School of the Arts

Glorious Sounds of the Season

Chico State's Department of Music and Theatre to Present 19th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser, Glorious Sounds of the Season

2 male students playing instruments and wearing santa hats in front of "Glorious Sounds of the Season" backdrop

CSU, Chico’s Department of Music and Theatre presents the annual scholarship fundraiser, Glorious Sounds of the Season. The concert will take place December 7th and 8th at 7:30 p.m., and December 9th at 2 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre. Purchase tickets at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333. 

Proceeds from the series of concerts go towards music and theatre scholarships for CSU, Chico students.

Now in its 19th year, Glorious Sounds of the Season has become a Chico-area holiday tradition. It features various music ensembles including the Wind Ensemble, Jazz X-Press, Acappella Choir, Chamber Singers, and the University Chorus. There will also be student soloists, student-led small ensembles, faculty members, and performers from the Chico community, including the Children’s Choir of Chico. With the merging of music and theatre into one department several years ago, the concert also features a number of short theatrical skits performed by theatre students and faculty. 

“This is a unique concert in that the audience will hear such a wide variety of musical ensembles all in one night,” said Dr. David Scholz, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member and co-coordinator of the event. “They’re also fast-paced concerts because we move from one selection to the next without applause. The 90 minutes will be filled with holiday cheer and highlight performances by many talented students, faculty, and community members.”

Male members of the choir singing

There will be several opportunities for the audience to join in with the performers by singing along on various seasonal favorites such as “Let it Snow,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.”

While proceeds from the concerts benefit music and theatre students in the form of scholarships, Scholz said the department never loses sight of the fact that Glorious Sounds of the Season is also a way of giving back to the Chico community. “One of our main goals in the music and theatre department is to develop closer ties to the residents of Chico, and this concert really helps to put everyone in a holiday mood.”

Tickets, at $20 for all seats, are available in advance at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333. For disability-related accommodations, please call 530-898-6333. Harlen Adams Theatre is located at Performing Arts Center 144. More information is available online at the School of the Arts website and Facebook page.

Featured Performer: David Rothe

David Rothe in in holdiay hat holding pipes from the organ

David Rothe has performed at every Glorious Sounds of the Season concert since its initial production. Rothe will be performing a few selections, including Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Greensleeves and Michael Praetorious’s In Dulci Jubilo in the 19th consecutive Glorious Sounds of the Season. 

Rothe is a former University organist and Department of Music and Theatre faculty member, but returns to Chico State to perform in this concert. The proceeds of the concert help support student scholarships, while also maintaining the admiration and appreciation of the Centennial Organ.

“It’s fun showing the Centennial Organ to audience members (especially children), who sometimes come up on stage following the concerts,” Rothe said.

During Rothe’s 40 years at the University, he has taught many classes including University Chorus, Repertory Chorus, organ, and classic piano, to name a few. He also formed and directed the Early Music Ensemble and founded both the Chico Bach Festival and the University Organ Series.

Rothe is also an organ consultant and was responsible for bringing the Centennial Organ to Chico State. It was constructed on campus between 1984 and 1990. He also brought several other organs to Chico and throughout Northern California, and says he enjoys the fun and the challenge of playing the Centennial Organ during this concert.

“It is a great privilege as it the Centennial Organ is a world class pipe organ—one of the best in the United States,” Rothe said.

But his biggest takeaway from performing in Glorious Sounds of the Season is the holiday feeling that the concert ushers in.

“I hope I have contributed in some way to our audience’s enjoyment of the holiday season,” Rothe said.

History of Glorious Sounds of the Season

woman with santa hat next to words reading "Glorious Sounds of the Season"

The creator of Glorious Sounds of the Season, now a Chico holiday tradition, is Jeffrey Gemmell. Gemmell first started this festive concert at Chico State in 1999 as a large choral concert featuring University Chorus, Ying Yeh (opera singer), and David Rothe (organist). Gemmell chose the title for the concert because every piece included either “Gloria” or “Glorious” within the title such as the song, “And the Glory of the Lord.”

The format of the concert has always been described as “kaleidoscopic,” since Gemmell designed the performance to have small groups of performers scattered throughout the hall. Mike Bankhead (the Department of Music and Theatre chair at the time) inspired Gemmell to pursue the current concert format. Bankhead and Gemmell were both involved with other concerts that had a “kaleidoscopic” format, specifically at the University of Colorado, Boulder, which inspired them to take the concept and run with it. 

Choir and band players directed by David Scholz with a winter background

“…Our foundational plans at Chico State took this concept and put it on steroids,” Gemmell said.

Gemmell and Bankhead wanted to include the entire Department of Music and Theatre in creating a scholarship fundraiser that would be beneficial to everyone: faculty, students, and the department. This scholarship program helped attract the finest students into the department and concert as well.

Gemmell recalls his most amusing and satisfying memory from producing the concert, which occurred during the first year of the large-scale departmental production in December 2000. During the production week of the concert, there was a faculty meeting where he had to explain how the concert was going to work. He discussed the concepts of the fast-paced movement of the groups during the concert (in the dark) while music was going to be performed in the light. Most people were on the same page as Gemmell and trusted his judgment; however, others thought it was going to be a complete “circus.”

man wearing santa hat and playing accordion

On top of that, Gemmell did not want there to be applause after each performance in order to keep a smooth transition between each song. This bothered some of the faculty and performers because they thought their excellence was not going to be recognized. Even after being instructed not to, there was one performer who had their family clap for them at the concert. Despite some individuals' early concern, the concert was amazing and a success.

The duplication of this concert at other colleges has also been very successful. Gemmell believes that what secured him his current job at Millersville University was the idea of making Glorious Sounds of the Season into a scholarship fundraiser. This became a reality in 2006 when he became a faculty member of the university.  

“My experiences at Chico State allowed the Millersville faculty to trust me right off the bat, and the concert was an immediate success,” Gemmell said.   


Story by Tashia Jones, School of the Arts publicity assistant