Missouri Military Academy celebrated the Christmas story in a traditional festival of music and prose at the Academy’s 80th Evensong on Saturday evening, Dec. 11, 2021, at Mexico United Methodist Church.
Watch recording of the event on MMA's YouTube channel:
Evensong, described as a “festival of lessons and carols,” is an annual holiday favorite for parents, cadets, community members and other guests. The event featured a performance by the Missouri Military Academy Faculty, Staff and Friends Choir including Rob Dalton, Cheryl Emminger, Carla Gallegos, Cheryl Morris, Pearl Newbrough, Dana Reynard, Peggy Reynard, William Roundey, Mike Shoemaker and Tori Webber, with a special solo by Cadet Lucas Sydlewski.
MMA Cadets Evan Schreyer, Nyeal Briedenstein, Michael Machary-Pagan, William Terrell, William Cash, René Garcia Garza, Kevin Wang and Patricio Regis presented live readings of the Christmas story.
Traditional holiday music was played by the Pipers of MMA including Cadets Clayton Nelson, Nathaniel Espinoza and Zachary Sturgeon.
The prelude and postlude were performed by the Instrumental Ensemble including the following cadets:
- Matthew Hamilton, Benjamin Huynh and Kevith Sangster — flute
- Matthew Miles, Michael Machary-Pagan and Evan Schreyer playing — clarinet
- Michael Pfeifer — horn
- John Carlos Ahuja and Sage Fuller — trumpet
- Landon Meyer — trombone
- Ruhan Chowrira, Kruze Hagan, Gabriel Hood, Aaron Huynh and Robert Peck — alto saxophone
- Ian Robison — tenor saxophone
- Logan Lockhart Guditis — baritone saxophone
- Angelo Urdaneta — tuba
- Peter Didicher, David Lee and Anthony Melick — percussion.
Songs were also performed by the Cadet Choir including Cadets Julio Favre, Hector Gonzalez, Isaac Krentz, Luke Ott, River Punab-Mitchell, Phoenix Rice, Ezekiel Richardson, Brody Ruckman, Oliver Sparks and Lucas Sydlewski. A solo performance of “Away in a Manger” was performed by Oliver Sparks.
A friend of the Academy and former MMA parent, Kate Becker performed “O Holy Night.”
MMA Chaplain Joan Cotton DeBoe led the event, and Band Director James Garrett, Choir Instructor Iris Shoemaker and Pipe Major Brian Donaldson led the cadet musicians and singers. Mr. Stephen Maziarz served as the pianist.
MMA Evensong is like the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which takes place in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, a British tradition dating back to Christmas Eve 1918, one month after the close of World War I. The Cambridge service was developed by Eric Milner-White, who was at the time the young, newly appointed dean of King’s College. Milner-White had previously served as an Army chaplain.
MMA’s Evensong celebration began in 1941, a few weeks after the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, drawing the country into World War II. Since there was no Chapel on the MMA campus then, the performances took place in the gymnasium under the direction of Capt. Eugene Lamm. Since then, Evensong has traditionally served as a joyful start to the Christmas furlough. In 2013, MMA began the tradition of bringing Evensong to the community, hosting it in the historic Christopher Wren chapel on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, as well as First Presbyterian Church of Mexico and Mexico United Methodist Church.