It's almost time to kick off the holiday season with our annual holiday concerts, Wishes & Candles. We have some gorgeous music we're preparing for you and we can't wait to share it. The most challenging pieces are the two movements from Poulenc's Quatre Motets pour un temps de Noel. The third movement starts very softly "as from afar" as the Magi travel toward their destination, growing in volume and excitement as they near their destination. The last movement proclaims the joyful news of the season, ending with full-throated alleluias. We've sung Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium before which I think is allowing us to really feel the beauty of this piece. The exquisite harmonies and play between voices is literally causing goose-bumps as we rehearse. My favorite work of the season has to be Ola Gjielo's setting of Gustav Holst's In the Bleak Midwinter. Holst set poet Christina Rossetti's words to music in 1906. Norwegian composer Gjiello has taken the simple tune and, using two choirs, played up the rhythmic complexities of the poem. A soaring soprano duet near the end of the piece is just awesome in every sense of the word.
Women of Note will be joining the Chorale as our special guests, of course. I'm so looking forward to hearing their selections this season. According to my inside source they will be presenting three songs, one in Spanish with a guitar accompaniment arranged by Mary Lee and performed by choir member Derek Jefferson, one modern a cappella piece, and a unique arrangement of Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming that will add a counter-melody and a guest appearance by tenor David Sampson.
Of course we will sing arrangements of well-known carols like The First Nowell and Sing We Now of Christmas. Tenor Forrest Fisher will step out from the group to play flute and soprano sax on a couple of pieces--always a treat! And we'll have one sweet musical moment that always reminds me of watching a special TV special with my brothers so many years ago. Our fabulous accompanist, Milo Graamans, will play for two of the concerts and we'll have a special pinch hitter pianist, Ramona Martin, for one evening. It's going to be a great show. Don't miss it!
Oh, and in case you happen to be over in the Valley, we'll be singing in Corvallis at the Nativity Festival on December 2 at noon at the Church of Latter Day Saints. Click the link for more information and directions.