Sounds of the Season 2018 Employee Holiday Concert fills Duke University Chapel with cheer

As the Durham Medical Orchestra ran through a medley of holiday favorites, Patsy Chase and Emily Jackson bounced in their seats, singing along.

The two Duke employees were among the hundreds that nearly filled Duke University Chapel for Thursday’s Employee Holiday Concert. In addition to music, the annual event featured gifts and refreshments, providing Duke’s staff and faculty an opportunity to share in some seasonal fun.

“It was wonderful,” Jackson said. “I love that Duke provides things like this for us.”

Enjoy some scenes from Thursday’s concert.

As the first 300 guests entered the chapel, they received complimentary Duke lunch boxes. The gift, and the free food and drink served outside after the show, was part of the event’s theme of showing gratitude for Duke employees.

“This is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the past year,” said Antwan Lofton, assistant vice president for Staff & Labor Relations with Duke Human Resources, the unit that organizes the event. “We get excited for this. I think it’s a fun event and we always look forward to it.”

Music was provided by a brass band from the Durham Medical Orchestra, a volunteer group consisting of musicians drawn from the Duke workforce and the wider Durham community. An ensemble of orchestra members played a variety of holiday favorites, ranging from sacred hymns to well-loved pop classics.

Gavin Yamey, director of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health, which is part of the Duke Global Health Institute, walks with his son, Wyeth, and friend Caleb Dennis. The two three-year olds enjoyed the music for part of the show, but eventually found the lure of playing in Thursday’s sunshine too strong.

“This is one of those events when you can bring your children on campus, they get to see what mom and dad do, and they can feel a part of it,” Lofton said.

Patsy Chase, a staff assistant, and Emily Jackson, a regulatory coordinator, walked over from their office at the Medical Genetics unit of the Duke Department of Pediatrics, which sits on a far corner of Duke’s sprawling research campus.

“She showed me a shortcut,” Jackson said.

“I walk this way all the time,” Chase said.

While Jackson said she’s been a regular at the annual event, it was Chase’s first time.

“She told me about it and I said ‘Let’s go!’” said Chase, a staff assistant. “I’m glad I came. I totally enjoyed it.”

In all, around 575 employees and guests came to Duke University Chapel for the show.

Clad in the blue scrubs they wear as pharmacy technicians at Duke University Hospital, Jennifer Wyrick and George Fultz checked out the show from seats near the front of the chapel, colored light from the stained glass windows splashing on their shoulders.

“It was great,” Wyrick said of the concert.

“I love it being in the chapel,” Fultz said. “Christmas is a wonderful time.”

Before they headed back to work after the music ended, they got photos of the chapel’s elaborate nativity scene and joined their Duke colleagues for free warm apple cider and snacks from the refreshment tent outside.

Story by Stephen Schramm • Photography by Les Todd

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