Simpson University Christmas Concert Fills Grant Center with Music, Hope

REDDING, Calif – Simpson University’s 16th annual Christmas concert drew more than 925 people for an afternoon of choral and instrumental holiday favorites, including Handel “Messiah,” one of the most widely sung choral works in Western music.

The Dec. 2 concert in the James M. Grant Student Life Center was nearly standing-room-only by the time the Shasta Symphony Orchestra—a collaborative effort between Shasta College and Simpson University—opened with “Sleigh Ride,” directed by Dr. Jeff Specht.


After a welcome and opening prayer from Simpson University President Norm Hall, the audience was invited to sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” directed by Music Department chair Dr. Dan Pinkston.

The Simpson Chorale and Foothill High School Mixed Chorus combined for “A Christmas Praise,” featuring Simpson student soloist Bailey Agness and Foothill High School director Mitch Bahr on piano.

Simpson music faculty and alum Sarah Meng-Cummings and Dr. Pinkston sang “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” an arrangement by Dr. Pinkston, who also played guitar.

The audience rose to its feet after guest vocalist Kittinant Chinsamran of Thailand and Simpson music faculty member Carrie Grosch sang “The Prayer” by David Foster. Another audience favorite, “Mary Did You Know” was performed by Blended, a new a cappella group at Simpson.


Grosch’s voice filled the gymnasium in her moving interpretation of  “O Holy Night,” accompanied by Simpson music faculty member and alum Lauren Dillon on piano.

Attendees enjoyed cookies in the lobby area during intermission before returning for the Christmas portion of Handel “Messiah,” with additional solos by Chinsamran, Grosch, Dash Waterbury and Raphaella Medina of Redding. As is traditional, the audience stood and sang along with the grand finale – “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Afterward, one audience member was heard to say, “The music thrilled us. The concert radiated a sense of hope and, in fact, the room itself seemed filled with hopefulness. How appropriate that it was presented on the hope Sunday of Advent.”

The concert was a highlight of Chinsamran’s visit to Simpson University as an artist-in-residence for 2018-19. In addition to performing in several venues, he also conducted masterclasses and gave private voice lessons.


Simpson President Norm Hall, center, with Dr. Kieun Steve Kim, left, and Kittinant Chinsamran.

The recent devastating Carr and Camp fires in Northern California were very much on the minds of the vocalists and musicians as they rehearsed for the concert, noted Dr. Kieun Steve Kim, Simpson University’s director of choral activities. “We wanted to provide individuals and families with an afternoon of uplifting and hope-filled music after the heartbreak of this fire season,” he said.

Learn more about Simpson University’s Music Department at

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Top photo by Chyna Xiong: Carrie Grosch and Kittinant Chinsamran sing “The Prayer” during Simpson University’s 2018 Christmas concert. // Slideshow photos by Chyna Xiong

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Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduategraduate, and teaching credential programs. The university will celebrate its centennial in 2021. Simpson was named as one of the 2018 Colleges of Distinction. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings; the Betty M. Dean School of NursingA.W. Tozer Seminary, the School of Education, and the School of Graduate Professional Studies. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit