Holiday concert to honor veterans

Published: December 4 2014


In addition to ringing in the holidays, this year’s Sounds of the Season concert, which falls on Pearl Harbor Day, will celebrate veterans.

The 65th annual concert – presented by the University of Florida College of the Arts – begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, with free tickets distributed at the door at 6 p.m.

Sponsored by President Bernie Machen and first lady Chris Machen, the production will feature more than 300 performers, including members from the UF Concert Choir, UF Women’s Chorale, UF Men’s Glee Club, UF Symphony Orchestra, Gainesville Master Chorale and Oakcrest Baptist Church Handbell Choir.

The program includes three selections from the Bing Crosby 1944 Christmas Radio Show, broadcast to troops overseas through the Armed Forces Radio Service.

The centerpiece of the concert, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” composed by Mack Wilberg with narration written by Walter Cronkite, tells the story of the Christmas Truce of December 1914, when German and British troops momentarily ceased fire to sing Christmas carols.

Will Kesling, UF’s director of choral activities and a U.S. Navy veteran, said the audience will get a glimpse into the history of the songs. Besides the two military-related pieces, the concert will include a variety of traditional music.

Kesling, pictured at right in 1972, spent almost five years flying jets as a naval officer. As a Vietnam veteran, he says he takes every opportunity he has to show soldiers past and present his gratitude. He said he wants veterans to know that people appreciate their service.

“I don’t stand up and say it with my mouth,” he said. “I’m going to let the music speak to how I feel about American veterans and what folks have given and suffered during wartime.”

For more information, contact the Phillips Center Box Office at 352-392-2787 or visit