Music for musicians? Or music for the masses? Programming concerts for this time of year can present special challenges for yours truly.
It’s a perennial challenge creating a pleasing balance of newer and more familiar works — but a challenge I welcome and truly enjoy.
Ring in both new and familiar Dec 5th and 13th. Both upcoming concerts will feature a blend of hidden gems you may have missed, and old familiar musical friends you can’t get enough of, and more.
Our opening works will set the evening’s glitzy “Holiday Table.” We will begin the concert with “A Joyous Noel” by Gordon Young and “Hodie Christus Natus Est” by Healy Willan. Prolific church musicians of exceptional organ playing abilities created both works.
Every family seems to have a seasonal ritual — maybe because we find these traditions so comforting, reassuring and familiar.
In keeping with the true “reason for the season,” I always try to incorporate an “Ave Maria.” Carl Czerny was a student of Beethoven and I think you can hear a little of the Master’s sounds in this musical prayer.
The “Alma Redemptoris Mater” of Marcel Duprè is next. It started out as a portion of a larger work for organ, while “Joys Seven” is an English carol arranged by Steve Cleobury, music director at King’s College.
Have you heard the “Bird’s Noel?” Most people know the composer, Katherine K. Davis, better than they think. For all of the music Ms. Davis wrote in her lifetime, she is best remembered for “The Carol of the Drum,” aka “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Afterwards, one might just feel inspired to look into the prolific output of cantatas, piano and organ works, and seven operas of Katherine K. Davis.
Be ready to experience the amazing “Cum Novo Cantico” of Gerald Near. This piece is full of familiar Christmas tunes and chants, all treated with a variety of variations, and with a virtuosic accompaniment.
After a brief intermission… the entire second half of our performance is made up of arrangements of familiar tunes. You’ll hear “Fum, Fum, Fum,” “Pat-A-Pan,” “Rockin’ Jerusalem,” and “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.”
Closing the concert is Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols.” His arrangement features familiar English Christmas Carols, which he envelopes in lush orchestrations. We will be performing the piece with strings, organ and percussion.
Warm up your vocal chords! As you can see, our program offers something for everyone. We even give the audience a chance to sing, as we close the concert with a reprise from last year’s concert: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Just as you love to experience both the familiar and the new, I look forward to seeing our faithful MTS fans and generous patrons, as well as newcomers. So…
Bring a friend to one of our performances soon — December 5th or December 13th. Give the gift of holiday music. What a wonderful way to get into the spirit of the season!
Reflections on concerts, composers and music...