“Feast of Lights” brings holiday cheer to campus

Shivan Cespedes

The holiday tradition “Feast of Lights,” a choir and symphony in celebration of the Christmas holiday, showed for its 28th year at Saddleback College on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Scott Farthing, music instructor and director of vocal studies, conducted the choir and symphony.

“I am so blessed to be surrounded by such good people,” Farthing said. He’s also a self-proclaimed Christmas holiday aficionado, bragging of being a ‘hoarder’ of holiday decorations with more than a dozen Christmas trees and 700 plus ornaments.

“When I think of Christmas as a past, I think of these kinds of concerts,” Farthing said. “And during the sing-a-long, watching the four women in the front row link arms and swing back and forth, I love that. That’s what this is to me is creating those kinds of relationships.”

This was the first year for the newly appointed conductor of the Saddleback College symphony orchestra and wind ensemble, Dr. Yorgos Kouritas, to participate in the event.

“It was fantastic,” Kouritas said. “The orchestra and the chorus were fabulous. It was amazing. I couldn’t have hoped for any better.”

The opening number was an energetic version of “Come All Ye Faithful,” which was arranged by Scott Farthing and orchestrated by Catherine Tibbits.

The theme song for the evening “Feast of Lights” by Frederick Silver and orchestrated by Tibbits had a very Jewish tone and a spiritual enlightenment to it.

“Christmas Day,” by Gustov Holst was a beautiful presentation with conductor Maestro Yorgos leading the fine, crisp soprano vocals against a perfect violin and string section into a full, dramatic orchestra.

The oldest choir member of 31 years, Bill Yarbrough, has been performing with the college since 1981. “The ‘Feast of Lights’ started in 1984.

“We had done some other concerts prior to that time,” Yarbrough said. “But I’m pretty sure it started in 1984 under the direction of Gary Silverman that we started the ‘Feast of Lights’ tradition.”

“Mele Kelikimaka,” a Hawaiian favorite, introduced soloist Zach Churchill on vocals and ukulele.

“Christmas at the Movies” featured many pop holiday soundtracks including Tim Burton’s “Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Making Christmas.'”

A tribute to Irving Berlin boasted a robust horn section and featured such classics as “White Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” with snow falling over the choir.

The expertise of choir director Scott Farthing shined when he led his choir and the audience in a “Holiday Sing Along” with “Deck the Halls,” a danceable “Feliz Navidad!” and much more.  The audience loved this performance thoroughly.

“I just love the joy of giving the gift of music to other people,” choir member Carrie Carbonneau said. “It just brings so much glory to God because Christmas is all about Jesus coming to the earth.”

“We really had a marvelous time. They do a great, great job. I liked all the songs, it’s hard to pick just one. It was very nice and it wasn’t an overkill. It was just right,” audience member Suzie Jenkins said, who came with her family.