Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home stretch to Christmas

It's been five years since my chamber choir, Da Camera Singers, has put on an actual "Christmas" concert.  For the past many years we have planned an earlier fall concert, usually early November, mainly as a result of contracts provided to us by our city's two orchestras, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Alberta Baroque Ensemble, for Christmas shows that they have produced.

The decision to do our own Christmas program this year was made as a result of contract engagements early in the fall.  One private retirement party for a long-time patron (Da Camera was the choir at his wedding many years ago, and it seemed appropriate for us to appear at this special occasion as well), and an appearance with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the 1970s British progressive rock sensation Procol Harum.  Da Camera originally appeared with Procol Harum in 1971, and released an album with the Symphony and the rock group, which went platinum in the USA.  I wasn't with the choir when they did the first concert thirty-nine years ago.  I was busy learning the basic cognitive skills of life at the time, being only two months old.  In fact, no original members of Da Camera appeared last month, there were however two members who attended the concert in their youth, and a few others own the original vinyl album, shown here (the choir is sporting their 1970s outfits in the back right corner of the album cover - sexy!).  For many of the singers of that generation though, it was a highlight of their choral singing career.

So, on to our first concert of the season.  "Tidings of Joy" The first half is all unaccompanied music of devotional songs to Mary and to the nativity, spanning from Dutch baroque composer, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, to recently deceased Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki.  The second half of the program, we will perform Ottorino Respighi's rarely performed work "Laude per la Natività del Signore" for wind sextet, piano (four hands), soloists and chorus (and triangle!).  I wasn't familiar with this work until a chorister suggested I look at it, and after consulting with a colleague in Calgary who had recently performed it.  It is a wonderful gem, and if you are looking for a twenty-five minute Christmas work that isn't one of the standards, and fits in with a modest budget for instruments, I highly recommend it.  I'm also quite happy to announce that there will be no audience singalongs!

The concert is on Sunday at 3 PM, and I attach to the right here (click to enlarge), in case you live near Edmonton.  It should be a very fine concert!

By way of an update of my previous post about the organ.  There was a short circuit in the key switch which turns the organ on.  After about an hour of basic electrical work (and at least twenty trips up and down the stairs to turn on and off the breaker switch for the organ) it is working fine again.  We have a fairly major renovation planned for the organ in the new year, so the less money we have to spend on maintenance right now, the better.  Some of the 100 year-old leather on the air reservoir is also starting to fail, which carries a good price tag.  For now, good old "Red Green approved" Canadian duct tape will seal the hole and get us through the season.  I hope.

1 comment:

Hugh McDevitt said...

My choir in central California did its first Christmas program in 15 years this past Sunday. We are a self-organized group, and most of our members have multiple other musical groups. We had avoided December gigs because of overcommitment and illness, but decided to sing a Lessons and Carols service this year. It lessened, somewhat the amount of music to learn, but we still sang 11 pieces including two pieces by my favorite English composer, Herbert Howells. It was a wonderful experience, and I think it will give us impetus to brave the December sickness and commitment hurdles again next year. Merry Christmas!