By Shane Rasmussen
Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center
Photos by Kevin Shanahan
The 11th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Multicultural Christmas Concert was held on December 4th at Treen Auditorium at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. The event was a benefit concert for the local nonprofit organization Cane River Children’s Services and was sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center, the NSU Center for Inclusion and Diversity, and the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts.
The concert featured an array of both sacred and secular Christmas performances. Snare drummer Mathew Johnson performed “Carol of the Bells” and “The Little Drummer Boy”; Justin Cruse sang “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Mary Did You Know?” and “There’s a New Kid in Town”; the LSMA Dance Ensemble performed “White Winter Hymnal,” choreographed by Crystal Lewis; NSU student Emerson Rodrigue read “Best Christmas in Haiti”; the Thistle Dancers and Pipers performed traditional Scottish sword dance and bagpipe Christmas tunes “Good King Wenceslas,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Jingle Bells”; NSU graduate student Dylan Blade Trahan sang “Last Christmas”; the Bollywood Babes performed the dances “Urvashi” and “Desi Girls”; the youth members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sang “Angels We Have Heard on High,” including soloist Cedrick Braxten who sang “Mary Did You Know?”; Ron Helaire read “The Night Before Christmas”; the Ministers of Peace performed the praise dance “More Than I Can Bear”; Mary Linn Wernet and Sharon Wolff of the Cammie G. Henry Research Center performed the readings “Rebirth,” “Midwinter,” “Let Us Have Peace,” and “A Vow for New Year’s”; the Anointed to Praise Dancers danced to “Speak the Name” and “Better”; and blues singer and saxophonist Hardrick Rivers performed “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.”
Many people contributed to making the event a success. The Louisiana Folklife Center staff, comprised of NSU students Aaron Malone, Matthew Phillips, Benjamin Sanson, Terra Schulze, and Dylan Blade Trahan, as well as administrative coordinator Ashley Smith, planned and promoted the event. Malone also served as the concert emcee. The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts hosted the event, which was coordinated by Samuel Wright, event technology support coordinator for LSMSA, and Shirley Dobson, administrative assistant to LSMSA executive director Dr. Steve Horton.
“This year’s concert was magnificent,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, professor of English and Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. “The joy of the performers perfectly captured the spirit of the season in all of its cheer and wonder. That these artists volunteer to perform, freely donating their time and talents for the benefit of others, is what the season is all about! And we are so honored to be able to support such a worthy cause as Cane River Children’s Services. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!” Those wishing to make a donation to Cane River Children’s Services may do so by contacting CEO Jennifer Karle at (318) 352-9349, or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 2453, Natchitoches, LA 71457.
In addition to spreading holiday hope and cheer, the Concert also serves as both a retention and a recruitment event for NSU, with performances by community members of all ages as well as by current NSU students.