Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 7, 2020

Outstanding programme to celebrate Christmas

Photo by Ian Thomson

Rejoice! Music for Christmas
Saturday 28 November 2020, Dunedin Town Hall

Last Saturday evening City Choir Dunedin, supported by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra presented an outstanding programme to celebrate the Christmas season.

The concert opened with Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit. The mass, which featured soloists Lois Johnston (soprano), Caroline Burchell (soprano), Claire Barton (alto), Andrew Grenon (tenor), and James Harrison (bass), offered an opportunity for the choir to display their skill at performing challenging, less well known repertoire. The work features beautiful and interesting harmonic moments, which the choir handled admirably, although a degree of uncertainty or perhaps lack of commitment (in comparison to that displayed later in the programme) meant that the magic was at times lost, leaving the piece to feel a little long.

In Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols the skills of the upper voices of the choir were showcased, supported by the phenomenal talent of Christchurch-based harpist Helen Webby. Featuring soprano soloists Burchell and Johnston, this performance had some extraordinary moments. Johnston’s performance in That Yongë Child was so hauntingly beautiful, you could have heard a pin drop in the audience, while Burchell’s rendition of Balulalow, supported by the women’s chorus, was truly exquisite. Webby, accompanying the choir and soloists throughout, plays with fantastic skill and musicality, with her Interlude being one of my personal favourite moments of the concert. This challenging work displayed the choir’s skill in handling complex polyphony, although at times the diction left a bit to be desired. On the whole, however, it was a great performance of a Christmas classic.

Bach’s Magnificat brought with it a significant step up in the choir’s energy level. Conducted by David Burchell from the harpsichord, this piece brought the choir, orchestra, and all five soloists back together for the second half of the concert. This monumental work showed the full range of the choir’s strengths, in which they gave great dedication and spirit to the music throughout. All five soloists were absolutely thrilling, with Claire Barton in particular giving a standout performance. A fantastic evening! It sounds like City Choir has a great programme lined up for 2021, so keep an eye out for future concerts!

Review by Ihlara McIndoe for The Wave, 7 December 2020.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gloria! A Baroque Christmas

Friday 19 December 2014, 7:30 pm
Knox Church, 449 George Street, Dunedin

Conductor: David Burchell
Soloists: Lois Johnston, Cathy Sim, Claire Barton, Benjamin Madden, Tānara Stedman
City Choir Dunedin
Southern Sinfonia


The featured work in this Baroque Christmas concert is the familiar and popular Gloria by Vivaldi. The wonderfully sunny nature of the Gloria, with its distinctive melodies and rhythms, and the brilliance and variety of textures displayed in the eleven movements of this work, make it tremendously appealing.

Charpentier’s In Nativitatem Domini Nostri Jesu Christi portrays, with delicacy and passion, the age-old story of the Evangelist calling the shepherds to Bethlehem, there to find Joseph, Mary and the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Bach composed the Christmas cantata Ich freue mich in dir in Leipzig in 1724 for the Third Day of Christmas. The work is suffused with earthy and realistic touches bathed in an otherworldly heavenly glow. It is surprising that the final chorale harmonization has not become famous as a Christmas carol, for it is a wonderful melody, beautifully harmonized.

These three works form the backbone of this celebration of the birth of Christ in our Baroque Christmas concert, and together with other shorter works by Buxtehude, Schein, Praetorius, Handel, Telemann and Clérambault, the music is presented in the spirit of joy that is Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

A few days ago, a whole stack of my friends were involved in a Hallelujah Chorus flash mob in Melbourne.

I thought people might enjoy the Youtube of the event. For me, it's a bit like watching a "who's who" among my Melbourne friends :-) The flashmob was conducted by old time mate Trevor Jones, who is awesome.



So - next year in the Meridien for City Choir, maybe?

Have a lovely Christmas, everyone, and see you in 2011!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snow Day!

We're snowed in, and if you haven't heard, City Choir is cancelled tonight. Whatever shall I do with all my spare time?

Well, I could build another snowperson. The first one didn't look too good:

snow poodle-person

But then, I am an Aussie, so concessions must be made. I'm not used to all this white cold stuff that falls from the sky. Cooking eggs on the footpath - now that I'm an expert at!

Or I could just enjoy the scenery out the window.

snowy view

I see scenes like this, and imagine Father Christmas (he is NOT "Santa Claus" in MY family, thankyou very much!) to come shooting over the top of Stone Street in his sleigh.

Or to at least cruise along Kaikorai Valley Road in a beat-up combi van with snow chains.

beat up combi van

On a more serious note, yes, City Choir is cancelled tonight. Yes, we have a rehearsal on Saturday morning instead, as I've just been informed by email. 10:00 to 12:30. Hmmm...that time slot is starting to feel a bit familiar!

So tonight, I shall grab my copy of Handel and go over "My Heart Is Inditing" for a couple of hours until I nail every last note!



Actually, I'll enjoy some of the gorgeous-smelling homemade shortbread I just baked, play a game or two of Up And Down The Creek Without A Paddle, and have a hot bath with lots of bubbles. Then maybe do a bit of rehearsing if I feel like it.

But if I told you I'm spending all evening rehearsing you wouldn't believe me.

Would you?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shepherd's Pipe

John Rutter.I discovered a new composer (for me) today - heard this Christmas carol on the radio this morning and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Have a listen: http://homepage.mac.com/kokopelliphotos_01/videos/iMovieTheater46.html

There is also this version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfQISWFyyz8


About the composer: John Milford Rutter CBE (born September 24, 1945) is an English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger and record producer. In 1981 he founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He still lives near Cambridge, but frequently conducts other choirs and orchestras around the world.

In 1980 he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music.

I think our choir would just love to sing the Shepherd's Pipe!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yep, it's THAT time of the year again...well, almost...

Christmas is not too far away.

Santa (that's me, folks!) is starting to look in the catalogues, and think Oh-heck-do-I-really-have-to-buy-this-rubbish-for-the-kids?

She's already suffered through one K-Mart sale, and doesn't particularly want to have to deal with another. She's also wondering if the toys the kids want really are as flimsy and rubbishy as they look (yes, they really are!), and whether plastic a) really does never break down and b) really does cause cancer (the answers are a) yes, and b) probably).

I both loathe and love Christmas, and the only reason I am posting about it now is that I can do so with a relatively sane mind before the horrible Muzak 'Deck the Halls' type Carols that get piped through every store music system make me want to deck the salespeople.

Why I loathe Christmas

I loathe the commercialism. Now, I know you're going to say that if I want to, I can avoid it. Just look the other way. Sure I can do that. Yeah, right. HA! You see, I also have a four year old son and a one year old daughter, and they're staring straight at the marketing hype.

My son has been known to spend hours on end perusing 'Thomas The Tank Engine' catalogues, and was bitterly disappointed when I informed him that the Twelve Days Of Christmas didn't mean you get twelve days of presents. And my daughter, not yet two, is fully capable of unclipping herself from the stroller, navigating her way through the Meridian to K-Mart, grabbing a shopping basket, and dumping My Little Pony toys into it.

As any parent will know, kids know all about Christmas from an early age, and they're really good at laying the guilt down. And we get suckered in to it. My son just had his fourth birthday, and it really did make me feel good to see how much he enjoyed his gifts, mostly of the 'Thomas' ilk. My daughter just loves her ponies. They're mostly harmless. I can't exactly give them nothing, not when all the other kids get stuff, can I? Besides, I had presents (also mostly complete trash) when I was a kid, and yet I turned out okay. Didn't I? Didn't I!!!

So yes, I loathe the commercialism. And in my family, we not only get dumped with commercial Christmas, but also Hannukkah, and not-so-commercial-but-still-gift-encumbered Midsummer as well. It's a quintuple whammy, book-ended on both sides with kids' birthdays (and mine, which seems to get forgotten these days *sniff*). Ouch. The plastic NastyCard is practically melting.

I've hardly mentioned 'Harry Connick Junior's Christmas Album'. Or 'Kylie Does Christmas'. About the only good thing on The Box is the 'Doctor Who Christmas Special', and that's always late here in the Antipodes!

Why I love Christmas

There is also much to love about Christmas.

I love the fact that our whole family gets together, even though I suspect that this year's Christmas may be the last time we do that, due to distance. I hope that the whole crowd will come over here next year, but my hopes aren't great.

I love the fact that my mother goes completely overboard with food, and we're stuck with bloody turkey for weeks on end, and I won't even mention how much ham - and I don't even eat the stuff. Christmas pudding, though - yum!

I love the way the kids go bananas, and eat too much, and play too much, and they love ripping open their toys, and are absolutely delighted in the way that I was delighted when I too received little lumps of plastic crap passed off as toys years ago. I remember how thrilled I was when I used to get presents, and seeing them in action brings it all back.

I love the way Dad tolerates Mum listening to carols for twenty-four hours straight, and he even tolerates her off-key singing, instead of whinging and telling her to tone it down.

I love the way there's rubbish on TV and stupid jokes in the Christmas crackers, and we see old friends who are so much a part of the family that they're relatives to me.

I love the chaos and the noise and the friendship and the love, and the way that we all just seem to get along better on Christmas than we do on any other day. I love waiting for the phone calls from England, and I love Dad cursing because the phone calls come at three in the morning. And in a small, deep, sad way I love the way I'll miss those phone calls that won't come this year because the callers are dead now, and we will miss them and drink to them, and they are gone.

I love the way Mum plans her attack on the Christmas sales even while she's wondering how on earth to store all the stuff she already owns and doesn't use. I love the way I laugh at her for it, and criticise her for it, but how I always go with her anyway.

Christmas is a time for memories of what it was like as a kid, and for creating joyful times for my kids that will become memories of their own when they have grown.

Christmas - past, present, and future

So now Christmas is on its way again, and I am doing some things the same, and some things different. Some traditions are kept, and others pass on. But one thing I have done for a long time is sing carols with friends, and I'll be doing that back in Adelaide, where I'll be having Christmas, and here, if I can find suckers to join me and walk the streets singing. That's a tradition my parents never had, but one that I have and hope to pass on.

Because, above all, Christmas for me is a time for family, friends, and music. These three things are the strands that make up the memories that are Christmas, and they are what makes it strong and wonderful.

Long after the toy catalogues are gone, and my son has perhaps moved on from Thomas The Tank Engine to real train sets, I'll still have my carolling books. And each Christmas we'll still open up their green covers, and sing about Good King Wenceslas in the snow, and the Holly and the Ivy, and that delicious Boar's Head!

I'll think of all the memories associated with carolling. The Carols By Candlelight picnics in forty degrees in Adelaide, with melted wax dripping on my hands, and happy choristers I hardly knew impressing the young 25 year old me so much because they sang in harmony. The shopping centre fundraiser carolling gigs, where the poor man came in sight and his lyrics were naughtily twisted, because we'd sung the blasted thing twenty times.

The strip mall carolling, and Darren yelling to a five year old: "We're not doing "f***ing 'Jingle Bells'!", then making the kid cry so much we did it again and again. My mother attempting to sing 'O Holy Night' - and failing, but sounding beautiful to me because to me her voice is beautiful.

And lastly, throughout it all, my own memories of me singing, and loving it, and knowing that these songs - good and bad, ancient and new - are a part of me and my blood and my history.

Christmas is music. That's what Christmas means to me. And this year, when Harry croons 'Deck The Halls' and Kylie drags out another budgie impersonation under the guise of a Christmas hit, I'll try to laugh and figure - hey, it's Christmas!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sheet music

Hi!

I'm wondering if anyone has the sheet music for a piece of music called Veni, Veni Emmanuel. It's an amazing and beautiful piece of choral music, and I've been searching for it awhile now. The lyrics are 9th century Latin, and the melody is approx 12th century French. There's a link to youtube which is a recording of some people doing it, it's not that great, but if anyone remembers they have the sheet music of it, could they please let me know?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrnGRXtSuh0

Thank you!!