95th Annual Concordia Christmas Concert

"... And Glory Shone Around"

Join us for the region's grandest Christmas celebration! Featuring more than 300 student musicians and five ensembles, the Concordia Christmas Concert will be performed in Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.

Tickets for Moorhead concerts will be available online or by calling 888.477.0277 starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

In order to care for the safety of our students and our community, we strongly urge our audience members to attend only if they are either fully vaccinated or have received a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the performance. Masks are required.

The concert will be performed at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9.

Tickets for Orchestra Hall concerts will be available online or by calling 800.292.4191 starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Orchestra Hall requires proof of COVID vaccine or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the performance. Masks are required. Please see details on the Minnesota Orchestra website.

Broadcast Schedule

Previous Concordia Christmas Concerts will be broadcast on television and radio this holiday season. The schedule will be posted here as soon as it is available.

About the Artists

Paul Johnson

Visual Artist

Paul Johnson is a communication art and design instructor at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria, Minn. He is a native Minnesotan and principal behind Paul Johnson Design & Illustration. Johnson received his education from Minnesota State University Moorhead and was previously employed for 13 years as a corporate artist at Banner Health System, Fargo, N.D.

He previously worked as a graphic designer for David Hetland, former artist of the Concordia Christmas Concert murals for 28 years.

Bryan Duncan

Director, Campus Lighting

Director of campus lighting since 1991, Bryan Duncan has designed the staging and lighting for more than 400 events. He produced the multimedia display for the 2006 Christmas Concert that memorialized the work of muralist David Hetland. Duncan has received the Meritorious Achievement Award several times from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and his groundbreaking lighting designs for a 2003 Concordia Theatre production was the subject of feature stories in three national publications.

History of the Concordia Christmas Concert

Since 1927, the Concordia Christmas Concerts have become a vital part of life within this institution, the community-at-large and a good portion of the Upper Midwest.

In the Beginning

Clara Duea, Concordia’s piano and organ professor, organized the Concordia Music Club in 1927 and one of their activities was a Christmas program. The very first concert was performed in Old Main’s chapel, but in 1928 it was moved to Moorhead’s Trinity Lutheran Church.

Paul J. Christiansen

Christiansen joined the faculty at Concordia in 1937. Among his responsibilities was the continuation of the Christmas Concert. This was the same year the concert venue began to alternate between Trinity and First Lutheran in Fargo.

Cyrus M. Running

Running came to Concordia in 1940 to head the fledgling art department. He had an interest in both art and music and began creating a backdrop for the Christmas Concerts his very first year.

The first backdrop was a large blue sheet of sateen behind a single suspended star. He simulated stained glass windows to cover the church’s choir and organ lofts.

Increasing Demand

In 1943, the concert venue was moved to the Moorhead Armory to accommodate the ever-increasing public demand.

After the war, with gas rationing no longer a deterrent to travel, people began coming from even greater distances. The Forum newspaper once took a survey and discovered that the Concordia Christmas Concert was the single event that attracted the greatest number of out-of-town visitors and generated the greatest economic impact on local businesses.

By 1946, three performances were held and within six years five were required to handle the demand. In 1952, Memorial Auditorium was completed and has since been the home of the Moorhead concerts.

On the Road

In 1975, the college took its show to Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. This was an effort to broaden Concordia’s outreach and to strengthen its ties with a large Twin Cities constituency of alumni and friends.

Changing Hands

Running’s final Christmas Concert mural was in 1973. He died on Christmas day in 1976 at the age of 62. Christiansen continued with the Christmas Concerts through 1985.

Running was replaced on the art faculty by Paul Allen, who designed the Christmas Concert murals from 1974 to 1977.

David J. Hetland took responsibility for the art from 1978 to 2005, working first with Christiansen and, after 1986, with Dr. René Clausen, who succeeded Christiansen on the music faculty and as conductor of The Concordia Choir.

A Lasting Legacy

After dedicating 34 years to The Concordia Choir, Clausen retired in 2020 and Dr. Michael Culloton took over the role of artistic director for the Christmas Concert.

Present Day

In 2009, newly commissioned artist Paul Johnson designed and printed the mural digitally for the first time in the concert's history. This is how the mural is created today.

The Concordia Christmas Concerts now include four choirs and a full orchestra. There are four performances in Moorhead and two in Minneapolis. The concert is broadcast on regional radio stations.

Approximately every five years, the event is recorded for airing on public and commercial television stations across the country.