July 25 was nearly a month ago, but that isn’t going to stop Jared Jacobsen from bringing a summer Christmas celebration to Chautauqua.
“I love to do Christmas in the summertime,” Jacobsen said.
This week’s Sacred Song Service, “Christmas in the Americas,” will take place at 8 p.m. Sunday. The service will celebrate Latin-American Christmas traditions, Jacobsen said.
The inspiration for this Sacred Song Service came a year ago, when Louise Carmon, a fellow teacher from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, went on a Road Scholar trip to Havana.
While in Cuba, Carmon met choir director Corina Campos.
Carmon was impressed with Campos’ direction, and she, Jacobsen and others from the school worked to arrange for Campos to teach a week of classes at Bishop’s School. Although Campos spoke no English and the students spoke little Spanish, Jacobsen said Campos’ love for the music made the language barrier barely noticeable.
Jacobsen’s work with students during the school year often gives him ideas for programs with Chautauquans for the summer. This proved true for his time with Campos.
“We had such a wonderful time that I thought, ‘I’ve got to somehow share this with Chautauqua,’ ” Jacobsen said. “This [Sacred Song Service] is coming from West to East by way of Havana, Cuba.”
To combine the musical styles he learned from Campos with the Christmas theme, Jacobsen is also drawing inspiration from the Latin-American tradition, Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration in which actors portraying Mary and Joseph lead a procession that seeks lodging from various houses, eventually finding a party at the end of the night.
“The fun of Christmas in the Latin-American culture is that it’s all about hospitality,” Jacobsen said. “We’re in a border town in San Diego, so we’re not unaware of Latin American culture, but [Campos] brought it alive.”
The nativity story will be discussed to accompany the music.
“The whole idea is to tell the Christmas story in English, but to stop along the way like a posada moving through Chautauqua,” Jacobsen said.
Musically, the program will contain “sambas, mariachi, [and] very tender Christmas carols, some in Spanish, some in English, some with verses half and half,” Jacobsen said.
“If you don’t know Spanish, you can sort of lalala along, which is fine with me,” Jacobsen said. “And if you don’t know English, you can lalala along. That’s fine with me, too.”