John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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So this is Christmas

My earlier post about Edward Esch reminds me that I've been meaning to talk about the Cathedral Choral Society Joy of Christmas concerts. So here goes.

We'll be performing twelve anthems, mostly but not exclusively by American composers. As usual, it's sort of a mixed bag; we're doing a few really good pieces, and a handful of pieces that I don't particularly care for. The aforementioned Lux Aurumque falls into the latter category. It's kind of pretty, but boring to sing.

We're doing three pieces by local composers. Richard Dirksen, a former organist-choirmaster of Washington National Cathedral who passed away earlier this year, wrote two of them: Chanticleer and Welcome All Wonders. The former is nice enough, but the latter is spectacular. We performed it two years ago, and it sounds stunning in the Cathedral. The third piece by a DC-area composer is A Child Is Born by Leo Nestor, who teaches at Catholic University of America's Rome School of Music. It's got sort of a plainsong feel to it, and I'm not wild about it.

We're also performing a world premiere of a new carol, Rejoice and be Merry, by the legendary British choral composer and conductor, John Rutter. It's a new setting of a traditional English carol, and it's tremendously bouncy and fun. It features some really nice male harmonies, too, which makes for a nice change of pace from a lot of Christmas music. We'll probably end the first half of the concert with it, and I think it'll bring down the house.

In other Christmas concert-related news, in two weeks I'll be performing in a handbell choir for the first time since 1986. My brother plays in a handbell choir in Leesburg, and earlier this year he recruited me as a substitute ringer for rehearsals. (I can't play with them on a regular basis because their services conflict with the services at my own church.) Anyway, they have a Thursday night performance scheduled next month, so in this one instance I actually perform with them. Should be fun, even though it happens to fall during the week of my CCS concerts. That will make for a busy week, but not as bad as last year, when during the two weeks before Christmas I had either a performance or a rehearsal twelve days out of fourteen.

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