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For a Blessed Christmas concerts December 7 & 8, 2019

By Clarke News  |  November 18, 2019
Christina Craig Gentzsch

Clarke University’s annual “For a Blessed Christmas” program is scheduled for Saturday, December 7, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8, at 2 p.m. in Clarke University’s Sacred Heart Chapel.

“For a Blessed Christmas” is a touching portrayal of the Christmas story through a traditional lessons and carols service. All are invited to witness this intimate performance as listeners are guided from prophecy, through the Nativity, and into a Christmas celebration. This holiday tradition is a favorite of the Clarke community and Dubuque area alike.

This year’s event features performances by Clarke Collegiate Singers and Melos under the direction of Dr. Amanda Huntleigh, Clarke University Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities; Clarke Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Rob Stull, Clarke University Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands; and the Clarke-Loras Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Mr. Andrew Geyssens and Ms. Ann Duchow, adjunct professors of music.

Choirs from Dubuque Hempstead High School, under the direction of Jill Sieverding, Clarke University alumna from the class of 2013, and Dubuque Senior High School, under the direction of Nathaniel Chesher, will be the honored guests. Hempstead choirs will be featured in the Saturday program and Dubuque Senior choirs in the Sunday program. In addition to their own repertoire, they will join in a presentation of Vaughn Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with all ensembles and the featured soloist.

The featured soloist is Clarke University Adjust Cello Instructor, Christina Craig Gentzsch. Gentzsch is the first instrumentalist to serve as the featured soloist in a “For a Blessed Christmas” performance.

Christina Craig Gentzsch has a Master of Arts degree in cello performance from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance with Honors from Washburn University. An active performer, Gentzsch currently plays with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, South East Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Ottumwa Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, and Orchestra Iowa. She is a founding member of the Accipiter Quartet and is also a member of the Panamerican String Quintet. Gentzsch consistently participates in the Apeiron Research Forum by presenting research and performances of historical composers, as well as debuting new, contemporary composers. She has had the honor of performing with Taylor Mac, The Kronos Quartet, and Rod Stewart.

“I am excited not only for the collaboration with two area high schools and the inclusion of our featured cellist, but also for the opportunity to work with the Clarke Wind Ensemble and the newly formed Clarke-Loras Chamber Orchestra. This is my second For a Blessed Christmas program and it is wonderful to take some beautiful pieces of the 2018 event and shake them into a 2019 program that showcases the collaboration both within the music department and the greater Dubuque community,” said Dr. Huntleigh.

“For a Blessed Christmas” musical selections will include works by J.S. Bach, Ernetso Cordero, Catherine Dalton, Linda Kachelmeier, David Maslanka, W.A. Mozart, Pietro Yon, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at, or by phone at (563)588-8180.