MOORHEAD — On Tuesday, Nov. 23, work began on one of the centerpieces of this year's Concordia Christmas Concert: a mural months in the making.

Using a technique called wallpapering, huge strips of the mural are pasted to wood panels that will soon be part of an artistic wall that has been a part of the Concordia Christmas Concert for years.

That giant work of art stands tall behind the performers, sharing a holiday message.

Printing the sections of canvas took months of prep work. A whole team has input on the music, the lighting and the art.

"The sketches (have) to be done first, so that takes months," said longtime mural artist Paul Johnson. "We start in June with our meeting."

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Johnson spent four months sketching, designing and filling in the color of the mural, making fitting the pieces together intense.

"It's absolutely stressful," Johnson said. "I had lots of hair 13 years ago."

There are 44 panels used to create the mural, some as high as 24 feet. When it is complete in front of the audience, it will stretch nearly 300 feet long.

On Thanksgiving week, the choir and orchestra are getting ready for the live performances coming up. Last year, there were no live audience, only a virtual concert. But in a few days, it will be the real deal.

"If (audiences) are anything like me, they are going to be filled with goosebumps and there's maybe tears in their eyes, because it's been a longtime coming," said Concordia College artistic director Michael Culloton.

The 95th annual Concordia Christmas Concert, "...And Glory Shone Around," is the weekend of December 3rd.