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70th Annual Christmas Concert

The 70th Annual Christmas Concerts of the Virginia Glee Club were conducted by Frank Albinder as part of the Glee Club 2010-2011 season. Held December 3, 2010 in Old Cabell Hall and December 10, 2010 in the Paramount Theater, the concerts included performances of traditional Glee Club favorites as well as other repertoire.

A recording of this concert is available at the University of Virginia Library.


One of the pieces performed at the concert was "Zikr," a song written by film composer A. R. Rahman, who won multiple Grammy awards for the score to Slumdog Millionnaire. "Zikr," a song of praise to Allah, is a song from the Sufi tradition (which the Pakistani qaawali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan helped to popularize in the western culture). The inclusion of a Muslim song, regardless of its tradition of origin, sparked controversy when an audience member wrote a letter of protest to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, asking "Would a Ramadan celebration include a Christmas song?"[1] The letter was widely picked up on conservative blogs

Albinder wrote a letter in response, in which he stated:

The Arabic word for God, Allah, predates the establishment of the Islamic faith by generations. To call God “Allah” is no more remarkable than to call God “Adonai,” “Jehovah,” “Yahweh,” “Dieu” or any of God’s many other names. Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is one of the three foundational Abrahamic faiths. All three religions worship the same God the Father.

I intended no political message. Every fall, the Glee Club learns several general occasion sacred pieces to perform at UVa’s Family Weekend concert. I then include these pieces on our Christmas program.

Because the Glee Club is made up of students, I feel responsible to program a wide variety of music to expose them to beliefs and cultures that might not be their own as part of their broader education. The university’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, owned a large quantity of religious texts including a prized copy of the Quran. I would hope that he would be supportive of just such an approach to programming.[2]


  • O come, O come, Emmanuel
  • Verbum Patris umanatur
  • Sicut cervus
  • Benedicamus Domino
  • Sydameni laulu
  • Sussex carol
  • Spaseniye sodelal
  • In dulci jubilo
  • Ave Maria
  • Rockin' round the Christmas tree
  • Let it snow
  • Silent night
  • Twelve days of Christmas
  • Tshotsholoza
  • Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing
  • Hark the herald angels sing
  • Winter song
  • Twelve days of Christmas
  • Zikr
  • Go tell it on the mountain
  • Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
  • Silent night
  • Dona nobis pacem


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