GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The vocal artistry of newVoices choir of Northeastern Wisconsin singers is telling a story this weekend.

The story is about Christmas – as in the reason for.

The story surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ is being sung/told in settings built just for that. In both cases, the places are known for their musical sound attributes.

Friday night, the place was St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in downtown Green Bay.

Today, Saturday, Dec. 17, newVoices sings twice more in Lawrence University Memorial Chapel in Appleton.

Friday’s concert was glorious.

The choir of 75 select voices rose and caressed and embraced in care-fully composed songs crafted to represent various hues of the human spirit.

The singers did this with ease, in part because they have a gift of voice and in part because of the open receptiveness of the cathedral space.

Final notes often hung, like lustrous aural vapors soon to pass.

Sounds of voices, sometimes joined by instruments, resonated as if saying, “yes,” “hello” and “welcome.”

Sometimes the church organ came into play, saying this with deeper vigor.

The program opens brightly in “Sussex Carol,” moves to a comforting rendition of “Sing We Now of Christmas” and next to large luster with organ included in “Carol of the Faithful,” with the audience joining and enlarging the final verse.

On the program goes – a multitude of handsome layers in one song to the next.

The choir consists of lifetime singers – people with a taste for artistic songs and the ability to deliver them.

Sit at the right angle, and conductor Phillip A. Swan and associate conductor Dan Van Sickle can be seen taking joy – often smiling – and they finesse just the right notes from this body of vocal beauty.

The selection of material embraces meanings through collages of sound.

“O Magnum Mysterium” is hauntingly beautiful, “Round the Glory Manger” enjoying the spiritual spices, assorted works along with “Away in a Manger” gracing the lullaby tenderness.

The program closes with special touches. Many singers spread through the aisles holding candles (battery powered), with others at the front with handbells at the ready. The choir sings “Peace, Peace” with that sound spread finely and colorfully. Soon, the audience is invited to sing “Silent Night.” The two songs are a woven, enchanting mix.

Friday night, Phillip A. Swan savored what he heard and encouraged a repeat of the “Peace, Peace”/“Silent Night” spellbinding effect.


Running time: One hour, 50 minutes

Remaining performances: 2 and 7:30 p.m. today, Dec. 17, at Lawrence University Memorial Chapel, Appleton.



Artistic director and conductor – Phillip A. Swan

Associate conductor – Dan Van Sickle

Accompanist – Dan Dinkler

Part I

We Gather

+ “Sussex Carol” – Barlow Bradford

+ Sing We Now of Christmas” – Kyle Pederson

   Beth Kinzel, flute

+ “Carol of the Faithful” – Joseph Martin

   Audience joins singing last verse

The Birth

+ “Das Wort Ward Fleisch und Wohnet Unter Uns” – Heinrich Schutz

+ “Christ Was Born on Christmas Day” – Randall Davidson

Angels and Shepherds Gather

+ “Angels We Have Heard on High” – Traditional

   Audience joins carol

Animals Gather

+ “The Friendly Beasts” – arranged by Jeffrey Van

   Jason Busse, guitar

   Bob Williams, bass, Risa Hill, soprano (Dec. 16)

   Kyle Brauer, bass, Linda Hash, soprano (2 p.m. Dec. 17)

   Alex Schimbeno, tenor, Rachel Lipker, soprano (7:30 p.m. Dec. 17)

+ “O Magnum Mysterium” – Morten Lauridsen

Kings Gather

+ “We Three Kings” – Traditional

   Audience joins carol

+ “The Three Kings” – Anders Ohrwall

  3. “Tre vise man

   Jonathan Leahy, percussion

   Erin Lesser, flute

Reflection on the Birth

+ “The Work of Christmas” – Dan Forrest

Part II

+ “Bring the Torch, Jeanette Isabella” – arranged by Keith Chapman

   Daniel Schwandt – organ solo

Gather in Bethlehem

+ “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?” – arranged by Mack Wilberg

   Beth Kinzel and Erin Lesser, flute

+ “O Little Town of Bethlehem” – arranged by Kay Hawkes Goodyear

   Toni Weijola and Karen Gaworecki, soprano (Dec. 16)

   Mary Peel and Toni Weijola, soprano (2 p.m. Dec. 17)

   Toni Weijola and Leah Armstrong, alto (7:30 p.m. Dec. 17)

+ “Carols of the Night” (“O Holy Night”) – arranged by Craig Courtney

In Praise of the Birth

+ “Joy to the World” – Traditional

   Audience joins carol

Gather at the Manger

+ “Round the Glory Manger” – arranged by Willis Laurence James

   Leah Armstrong, alto (Dec. 16)

   Heather Richardson, alto (2 p.m. Dec. 17)

   Jeanne Lietzan, alto (7:30 p.m. Dec. 17)

+ “Away in a Manger” – arranged by Jeffrey Van

   Mary Peel, soprano (Dec. 16)

   Toni Weijola, soprano (2 p.m. Dec. 17)

   Risa Hill, soprano (7:30 p.m. Dec. 17)

+ “All Praise to Thee” – Elaine Hagenberg

+ “Peace, Peace” – Fred Bock

   Audience sings “Silent Night”


++ Soprano: Margaret Allen, Monica Coenen, Christina Conn, Traci Diehl, Margaret Franz, Naomi Fritz, Karen M. Gaworecki, Victori Greuel, Linda Hash, Hilary Haskell, Risa Hill, Beth Johnson, Rachel Lipker, Mary Peel, Kaleigh Post, Emily Rodrigue, Mary Schmidt, Kadie Smith, Toni K. Weijola, Lisa A. Wesenberg, Kersten Zimmerman

++ Alto: Rima AbiSamra, Leah Armstrong, Karrie Been, Katelyn Elton, Melissa Fields, Jo Guinn, Carol Jegen, Jennifer Johnson, Tammy Kasten, Emily Kristopeit, Jenn Leahy, Cathy Leinum, Jeanne Lietzan, Claire Murray, Carolyn Olson Rashid, Ayiana Resop, Heather Richardson, Chelsey Rockey, Marie E. Ruffner, Christine Serna, Rachel Speckman, Rachel Thurston, Elizabeth Van Sickle, Kathryn Weyenberg, Anne Wilkerson, Amy Willson, Kim Zhang

++ Tenor: David Been, Paul Coonen, Blake Doss, Erik Eisenheim, Matt Kierzek, Dean Niquette, Anne Ritzman, Alex Schimbeno, Daniel Shepard, Raymond Tiffany

++ Bass: Kyle S. Brauer, Michael Bryan, Austin Demerath, David A. Frederick, Jeremy Hodges, Jason Kolpack, Troy Levenhagen, Timothy Reed, Kenneth Rodrigue, Tom Shoaf, Aaron Thibodeau, Tom Triolo, Dan Van Sickle, Jim Weiland, Bob Williams


THE VENUE: St. Francis Xavier Cathedral is located at (front entrance) 140 S. Monroe Ave. in Green Bay. Owned by the Catholic Diocese, the cathedral was built from 1876 to 1879 and consecrated Nov. 20, 1881. Of Romanesque architectural style, it is 146 by 72 feet, with ceilings 70 feet high in the nave and 40 feet in the side areas. The interior impresses with its grand size and height, round arches, semicircular arches on windows and symbolic ornamentation. Its main types of materials are Travertine marble on the floor of the sanctuary and walls of entrances; Laredo Chiarro marble on the walls of the church, pillars and pilasters; Red Levanto marble on the back wall of the St. Anne and Our Lady’s chapels; carved wood pulpits and railings; stained glass windows; carved wood around the north and south doorways; and formed plaster capitals. The cathedral was modeled after St. Ludwig Church in Munich, Germany. The Rev. Francis Xavier Krautbauer served at St. Ludwig prior to imigrating to the United States and later becoming bishop in Green Bay. The interior of the cathedral has been updated, renovated, restored and altered many times. Ten paintings in the upper nave were painted in Munich, Germany; the mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Health was produced in the Vatican Art Studios; the nave windows were made in Innsbruck, Austria; much of the marble is from Italy.