On Dec. 3, Trinity Western University hosted its 19th annual Christmas at the Chan, an event in which students, community members, and professional musicians share in the joy and reverence of the Christmas season.
The enduring Christmas at the Chan tradition first started with Dr. Tom Chan, Mr. Chapman Chan, and former TWU Director of Choral Activities Wes Janzen and their vision to bless the city of Vancouver. Every year, the UBC Chan Centre provides a stunning venue for voices to ring out in harmony, telling of the wonders of God's redemptive plans.
Gratitude for the Chan family's vision and investment
During the pre-concert reception, President Mark Husbands described Christmas at the Chan as “a wonderful event that draws hundreds of people together to share in the joy and warmth of Christmas and the hope of the Gospel.”
He expressed gratitude for the Chan family, acknowledging, “Their sponsorship and vision for this concert allows us to make experiences like this possible, helping to enrich not only the education and development of Trinity Western University students, but also their spiritual lives and discipleship.”
Music that echoes the promise found in Scripture
This year’s concert was directed by Dr. Benjamin Ewert and featured the TWU Masterworks Chorus & Chamber Choir. Trinity Western musicians were joined by The Langley Fine Arts School Chamber Choir under the direction of Jonny Michel. Special performers included Alison Nystrom (soprano), Dinah Ayre (alto), and David Rosborough (bass).
The concert opened with the classic hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel sung in traditional Latin. Audiences were then treated to one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most well-known and beloved cantatas, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140. The text of this piece is taken in part from the hymn by Philip Nicolai (1556–1608), adapted from Matthew 25:1–13 (Parable of the Wise Virgins), and depicts the advent of Christ as the coming of the bridegroom to the wedding feast and the Church as the bride of Christ. Bach’s Magnificat in D major, BWV 243, followed. The text of the Magnificat is taken directly from Luke 1:46–55, in which Mary sings in joyful response to her cousin Elizabeth’s affirmation of Mary’s belief that God will come to his people in human form through Jesus Christ, born of Mary.
The program also spotlighted a rich selection of timely works, including Macmillan’s O Radiant Dawn that echoes Isaiah’s prophecy, Quartel’s This Endris Night that imagines Mary’s lullay, Matre’s Norwegian hymn that proclaims praise, and the celebratory Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Vaughan Williams.
TWU Masterworks Chorus & Chamber Choir
The choirs of Trinity Western University have gained a strong reputation through their regular stand-alone performances and collaborations with professional ensembles, such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Sea to Sky Symphony, the Canadian Chamber Choir, and the Vancouver Chamber Choir. In recent years, the TWU Chamber Choir has toured to China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. A newly commissioned oratorio by Dr. David Squires was premiered by the choirs in spring 2023, and members of the program travelled to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Benjamin Ewert, Director of the TWU Chamber Choir & Masterworks Chorus
Dr. Benjamin Ewert conducts Trinity Western University’s Chamber Choir, Masterworks Chorus, and Concert Band and teaches music history at the University. In addition to this, Ben is the director of music at St. John’s Vancouver Church. He was the director of the chapel choir at Churchill College in Cambridge, England, has worked in churches and universities throughout Canada and the United Kingdom, and has sung professionally with Pro Coro Canada.
Ben holds degrees from Prairie College, Trinity Western University (2008), the University of Cambridge (MMus), and the University of Alberta (DMus), where his doctoral research explored the intersection of faith, liturgy, and culture in the work of Scottish composer, James MacMillan.
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is a global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has campuses in Canada in Langley, Richmond, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Instagram @trinitywestern, Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.