Tis the season for choral music steeped in the ages and Christmas holiday traditions. This weekend one has a selection ranging from Auriel Camerata’s concert (Saturday) curated around the concept of light—something we all tend to need as we near the darkness of winter—or the tradition of the Octavo’s Messiah (Sunday) to Albany Pro Musica’s Christmas presentation centered on the varying inclinations we’ve embedded within the holiday.
For Albany Pro Musica’s Christmas program, Artistic Director José Daniel Flores-Caraballo selectively weaves assorted images associated with this time of year throughout; from the mystery and awe of the birth of Christ to light, peace, hope, and good news to the gathering of family and friends…perhaps besides a crackling fireplace…to the bleakness of winter to the joy and romance found in snow, candlelight, and mistletoe. Familiar carols, in exhilarating arrangements, are at the program’s core and anchored by Gustav Holst’s Choral Fantasy on Old Carols (Good Christian Men Rejoice–God Rest You Merry Gentlemen–Come Ye Loftly, Come Ye Lowly–The First Nowell) and Suite Two of Robert Shaw and Robert Russell Benett’s The Many Moods of Christmas. In true Albany Pro Musica fashion, we’ll also hear more modern fare such as Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium (one of my favorites!) and Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque. Not to mention a world premiere of a choral piece based on a beautiful love poem by English poet Walter de la Mare. This new work, entitled Sitting Under the Mistletoe, is by APM’s 2016-17 Composer-in-Residence Donald McCullough.
I should mention this Albany Pro Musica program not only features APM’s trademark a cappella singing, but will include accompaniment by its in-house orchestra, Orchestra Pro Musica. And if that isn’t enough, a rising star in the opera world—tenor Rafael Dávila—also joins Albany Pro Musica to perform works such as John Rutter’s arrangement of O Holy Night, Ola Gjeilo’s arrangement of In the bleak mid winter, and Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard’s God Bless Us Everyone. While busy on opera stages around the world, Rafael Dávila’s is no stranger to the concert hall and has a repertoire that includes Verdi’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, Mahler’s Das Lied von de Erde, Beethoven’s Ninth, Mozart’s Coronation Mass to Estevez’ Cantata Criolla, which he performed with Maestro Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Sounds like a glorious Sunday afternoon in the acoustic gem of The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Whichever choral delight you choose to take in this weekend, do so with warm hearts and joyful intent. Happy musicking!