Albany Pro Musica’s Many Moods of Christmas

AlbanyProMusica_ChristmasTSBMH3:00 pm • Sunday, December 17th 2017
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall • Troy, NY

The signs that the Christmas holiday is near come by way of the various comforting traditions on the regional performance calendar this weekend. Händel, of course delivered by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic’s Messiah and the Messiah Sing led by Gwen Gould (mind you, the first ever in the newly renovated Hudson Hall). Concerts in the Village offers its wonderful country setting for the Kinderhook  community (and surrounds!) Lessons & Carols as does the Kairos Consort further down the Hudson. This year the Boston Camerata brings early French music to celebrate the holidays for its annual festive presentation at Union College. And, Albany Pro Musica’s The Many Moods of Christmas tops off what is an especially choral weekend.

The Albany Pro Musica choral and orchestral program to be presented on Sunday afternoon at The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall features Suite III from Robert Shaw’s exhilarating collection The Many Moods of Christmas (thus, the concert title) and the premiere of the revised Dreamweaver by Composer-in-Residence Ola Gjeilo with guest soloist Elisabeth Marshall. With Artistic Director José Daniel Flores-Caraballo on the podium, the program is to also include:

  • Antonio Corelli — “Pastorale” from Christmas Concerto
  • Morten LauridsenO Magnum Mysterium
  • David WilcocksThe First Nowell
  • G.F. Händel — Excerpts from Messiah
  • Irving BerlinWhite Christmas
  • Donald RipplingerJingle Bells
  • Bob Wells and Mel TorméThe Christmas Song
  • Brant Adams, arr. — Here we come a-caroling
  • Craig CourtneyA Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas

Not surprisingly, the first half of the program highlights the Christmas story and the midnight adventures of Mary and Joseph, the arrival of Jesus, as well as the Wise Men. From Corelli to Händel to the aural thrill of Morten Lauridsen. You’ll also be delighted with holiday staples from the Great American Songbook such as White Christmas and The Christmas Song as well as pleasing arrangements of traditional carols. And be prepared to have fun with Craig Courtney’s Twelve Days of Christmas… perhaps a bit of a musicological quiz?!

Potentially a shiny object on the choral landscape, Ola Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver nevertheless exemplifies Albany Pro Musica’s dedication to presenting new and contemporary repertoire alongside the tried and true. And is one more reason—of many—to catch an Albany Pro Musica Christmas program.

Dreamweaver was commissioned by Halgrim Thon and premiered by the Manhattan Chorale at Carnegie Hall in 2014. Ola Gjeilo writes:

Dreamweaver’s text is based on a well-known Norwegian medieval folk poem, Draumkvedet, an epic ballad that has a lot in common with Dante’s much longer The Divine Comedy. The protagonist, Olav Åsteson, falls asleep on Christmas Eve and sleeps until the twelfth day of Christmas. He wakes up and rides to church to describe his dreams to the congregation, about his brave, beautiful, terrifying and ultimately redeeming journey through the afterlife. Draumkvedet has, for this piece, been adapted into a playful version penned by my regular collaborator, poet Charles Anthony Silvestri.

Joining Albany Pro Musica for this special premiere of Ola Gjeilo’s revision of DreamweaverElisabethMarshall is soprano Elisabeth Marshall. No stranger to new music, she is a a regular artist with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, and is featured on their 2015 debut studio album New Voices (Roven Records) in James Kallembach’s Four Romantic Songs, her delivery of which Opera News hailed as “radiant” and “sensuous.” In 2016 she joined the Lorelei Ensemble in the U.S. premiere of George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song at the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, under the baton of Stefan Asbury. This past summer, Marshall was a Professional Fellow at SongFest in Los Angeles, performing works of Libby Larsen and Scott Wheeler, among others.

Indeed… we near the Christmas holiday. And if you haven’t felt that festive feeling creeping in yet, I can assure you that you will enjoy a spirited afternoon of song with Albany Pro Musica… from the Nativity to the new to the sounds of traditional carols. A fantastic delivery system for the many moods of Christmas that even Scrooge and the Grinch have come ‘round to cherish. If you have not heard Albany Pro Musica sing Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium in the acoustic wonder of The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, I urge you to go just for that alone. It’s magically wonderful. Consider the rest delicious ear candy.

Happy Musicking this weekend!

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