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Drive In For Handel’s ‘Messiah’ And Christmas Lights At St. Andrew UMC 6

St. Andrew United Methodist Church didn’t want the pandemic to stop them from bringing holiday cheer to the North Texas.

Christmas at St. Andrew, thru Dec. 21, 5801 Plano Parkway · Plano, TX 75093

  • VOCES8 Drive In Concert, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., Details
  • Imperial Brass Live Drive In Concert, Dec. 21, 8 p.m. Details
  • Journey of Lights, through Dec. 19, Details

Like many organizations, over the summer it became apparent to church leadership their annual Christmas festival with orchestra and choirs wouldn’t be possible. Still, the church wanted to find ways to give back to their community for the upcoming holiday season.

Back in the summer, Taylor Davis, St. Andrew’s Minister of Music, came up with the idea of a drive-in style concert featuring the Christmas portion of Handel’s ‘Messiah.’

VOCES8 will perform Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in a drive in video concert at St. Andrew UMC. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas/VOCES8 Foundation.

“I realized that nobody was going to get to do ‘Messiah’ this year, because singing and playing instruments is just not safe,” said Ryan. “I wanted to fill a void because I know the Christmas portion of Messiah is a tradition for a lot of people, so we’re trying to fill that.”

Ryan reached out to his friends at VOCES8, the international renowned acapella group, who, along with the Academy of Ancient Music provided a video recording of the piece that was performed at Cambridge University in England.

The show happens Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. Concert-goers will be able to watch the show on a giant LED screen and tune in to the music via a special radio station.

5 members of Imperial Brass play at St. Andrew UMC

Imperial Brass will play Christmas favorites at their live drive in concert Dec. 21. Photo: Chris Derrett/St. Andrew UMC

For those wanting a family-friendly concert with traditional carols, Imperial Brass will be performing live for a second drive in concert the following night. The hour-long show features your favorite holiday tunes with a Big Band sound.

Tickets to both concerts must be purchased in advanced and are available on St. Andrew’s website.

If you can’t make either drive-in concert, or just prefer to experience the music from the comfort of your home, St. Andrew is also making available a specially recorded version of the Imperial Brass concert for you to enjoy virtually.  The show is $20 and can be streamed December 21 through Christmas Day.

Snow falls at outdoor light display. Boy dressed in winter gear reaches for snowflake.

Catch a snowflake or two at Journey of Lights. Photo: Chris Derrett/St. Andrew UMC

Besides music, St. Andrew is also presenting a large-scale immersive light experience called Journey of Lights.

The display features multiple outdoor Christmas environments throughout the 21-acre campus including a Christmas Village, with trees filled with lights; a 3D snowfall lane; music with projection of Christmas carolers; a larger-than-life advent calendar utilizing actual windows; costumed characters along the path; and visits by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Besides the Christmas Village, the installation  also features a live Nativity in a peaceful, meditative setting near a pond, and dramatic lighting in a garden area.

“Joel Ferrell, who used to be the Associate artistic director at the Dallas Theater Center, and I were brainstorming ideas and we reached out to some of the out of work theater community and we have put together this really immersive lighting experience in that garden area,” said Ryan. “On top of that, our choirs have participated in creating a score that the lights are timed to.”

Colorful pink and purple lights in the trees light up.

Dramatic lighting in the trees is just one of the things you’ll see at the Journey of Lights installation. Photo: Chris Derrett.

Ryan says that even though Journey of Lights is spread throughout the 21-acre campus it’s still very accessible for those with special needs or families with young children. The walk through the display takes about an hour, but participants are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the lights.

Tickets to Journey of Lights must be purchased in advanced and are $5 each (children under 2 free). Admission is in 30-minute start time intervals, from 6-8:30 p.m., to ensure proper social distancing.

All proceeds raised from these events are slated for the church’s new mental health initiative which will offer a a counseling center with licensed therapists and be made available to the public in 2021.

“Helping raise money for mental health, especially in a year that has seen extreme need for mental health awareness,” said Ryan. “I just feel very positively about what we’re offering.”

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