Choral program’s annual Holiday Festival to offer musical experience

The Iowa Statesmen choir prepares for its Holiday Festival concert, set for Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The Statesmen will perform a new lineup at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. “The Statesmen have a really diverse song lineup this year, and we’re very excited to perform it,” said Alex Tinguely. The Cantamus choir will also perform Sunday after the Statesmen.

Michael Van Zanten

Iowa State’s choral program will be presenting its annual Holiday Festival on Sunday, Dec. 8, in Stephens Auditorium.

This year’s concert will mark the 58th year of the tradition. Iowa State’s choirs Lyrica, Cantamus, Iowa Statesmen and Iowa State Singers will be performing individually and will be joined by the ISU Wind Ensemble in the finale.

James Rodde and Kathleen Rodde, of the music department, will conducting the four choirs throughout the event.

“As the director of Choral Activities,” James Rodde said, “I oversee the choral program, conduct the Iowa State Singers and Statesmen and teach choral conducting and literature.”

During the performance each choir will be singing, while the audience will be singing carols between stage-changes. The concert will end in a finale that combines all four choirs and is accompanied by Iowa State’s Wind Ensemble. 

“The concert has been an annual event at Iowa State for 58 years,” James Rodde said. “During the past 14 years the choirs have been featured with one of the ISU instrumental ensembles. This year it’s the ISU Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Golemo.”

James Rodde has a long history of experience in choral music. He joined Iowa State’s music department in 2000.

“I really got turned on to choral music during my first year of singing in my college choir,” James Rodde said. “I knew that directing at the college level was what I wanted to do. From that point on that was my career goal, and I’ve really been blessed with opportunities throughout my life.”

While James Rodde conducts Statesmen and State Singers, his wife and colleague Kathleen Rodde directs the women’s choirs, Lyrica and Cantamus.

“We each conduct two large ensembles,” James Rodde said. “The two of us have to look over our repertoire and make choices on what we want to do together. We do that every year; we make a plan and away we go.”

Iowa State’s four choirs will be offering their audience a taste of the holidays from several parts of the world. Listeners will hear music of Christmas, Hanukkah and other cultural celebrations as well.

“You’re going to see a variety of repertoire from various parts of the world,” James Rodde said. “There will be pieces and texts that have some familiarity to the listener, but it’s a variety of repertoire from around the world.”

This year Iowa State’s Wind Ensemble will be appearing to accompany the choirs. The ensemble is considered the top band on campus and will lend an added level of singularity to this year’s event. 

“The Wind Ensemble will add a great sense of color and richness to the concert and it makes it a more special occasion,” James Rodde said.

Preparation for the performance has been going on since the completion of the fall choir concerts. James Rodde recommends the event in its entirety, not any single segment in particular.

“One thing that’s pretty nice about our choirs is that each one has its own style, and its own mission, and each sings beautifully,” James Rodde said. “Hearing each individually, and then as 375 singers together with the Wind Ensemble, should be a lovely experience.”

The concert will be at 3 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium. Tickets are available in person at the Stephens box office or online at