Math Lessons and Carols

by minton on November 28, 2016


One of the best ways to start the Christmas season is with Lessons and Carols of Christmas, presented by the Roanoke College Choir and Oriana Singers at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. The soaring vocals and warm harmonies bring meaning back to a season cheapened by October decorations and Black Friday madness. Director Jeffrey Sandborg’s choirs are outstanding, and St. Andrew’s is a fantastic setting.

You may be wondering how math gets into this. The connection between math and music is actually very strong. For example, the intricate weaving of parts in Benjamin Britten’s This Little Babe is highly mathematical. Higher level mathematics explores the magical ways that simple rules and interactions can produce complex and beautiful patterns. Steven Strogatz’s TED talk gives several great examples of this. The MCSP conversation series event on Thursday, December 1, also explores the relationship between math and music.

At this year’s Lessons and Carols, mathematics played a more direct role as Roanoke College math professor Maggie Rahmoeller accompanied Oriana on her oboe in a gorgeous version of There Is No Rose. Collaborations such as this are part of what make Roanoke College great.