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2017 Knollwood Christmas Festival


Sunday, December 10

How Far Is It to Bethlehem?

10:55 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Combined Choirs, Bells, and Instruments

In addition to arrangements of this carol, the program will feature works
by Stephen Paulus, Rosephanye Powell, John Rutter, Randall Stroope, and others.


Knollwood Minister of Music Ken Wilson
recounts the beginning of the Knollwood Christmas Festival:


In December 2001 my wife Cathy and I attended our first Christmas festival at St. Olaf College, which we had seen on television for many years. This year we actually had a daughter singing in it and, wow, what an experience! Assembled together on the stage were five 100-voice choirs, accompanied by a 100-piece orchestra. Each choir sang alone; the choirs sang in different combinations, with and without orchestra; there was a grand processional and recessional; and guests were invited to sing as well. Altogether this was one of the most exciting and worshipful musical experiences I had ever had.

I left that festival thinking, “Hmmm… we may never have five 100-voice choirs at Knollwood, but we could certainly do our own version.”

The first Knollwood Christmas Festival, in its present form, took place in 2003. Our children, youth, and adults combined with three handbell choirs, Knollwood brass, and guest instrumentalists for a morning (and evening) festival of Advent and Christmas music. And, as they say, the rest is history—at least, a 15-year history.

The 2017 version of our festival is themed How Far Is It to Bethlehem after the Christmas carol of that title. In addition to arrangements of this carol, a number of pieces are selections by the Chancel Choir as their favorites over these last 15 years: Vivaldi’s Gloria, David Danner’s grand procession, Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying (WACHET AUF), Powell’s In the Beginning Was the Word, Stroope’s All My Heart This Night Rejoices, and others.

We hope you will plan to join this celebration, and invite your friends and neighbors.