Musings from the Artistic Director

A look back at “Palestrina” and a look forward to “A Cambridge Christmas”

Robin McNeil of Opus Colorado wrote a lovely review of the St. Martin’s concerts this past weekend. If you made it to the concerts, read it to see if it jives with your experience; and if you missed the concerts, read it to see what you missed!

http://opuscolorado.com/2014/11/09/st-martins-chamber-choir-remarkable-serenity/

I myself though it went quite well. My verbal presentation got honed each time I gave it, so Sunday’s was more concise and cohesive than Friday’s, for instance; but 99% of the comments I received from audience members were positive about my mini-lecture-cum-demonstration (i.e. my fear was that, despite an effort to present it at a level that everyone could get something out of it, it might nevertheless have left some people frustratingly behind, while being too monotonously elementary for others). The choir was quite good I thought; and the work itself, Palestrina’s Missa Repleatur os meum, is not the most accessible nor easy-to-sing of his pieces.
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St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s next concerts are “A Cambridge Christmas,” December 12, 14 and 19, echoing the theme of our popular “A Salzburg Christmas” from last year. This year the works all have something to do with one Cambridge college or another (St. John’s, Trinity, Gonville and Caius – and, most importantly of course, King’s). And the novelty for us is the inclusion of organ in the concert. We’ve done a handful of concerts with organ in our history, but never a Christmas concert. Our organist is Ralph Valentine, my superb organist at St. Andrew’s. He was the organist-choirmaster of St. John’s Episcopal Church, West Hartford, Connecticut for thirty-some years, as well as head of the music department at Choate-Rosemary Hall for even longer. (Choate, by the way, was just chosen as the world’s #2 prep school, and was the only one in the top ten from the US.  Its other claim to fame is that JFK attended there – before Ralph’s time, of course!)

The concert, aside from about 15 choral Christmas pieces associated with Cambridge, will include six audience-sing-along carols with harmonizations, arrangements and descants by Cambridge greats such as Sir David Willcocks, John Rutter, Philip Ledger and Stephen Cleobury. These are pieces that Ralph excels at playing, and you’ll get a lump in your throat or feel your heart soaring as you sing and listen. Tickets are already selling, so you may want to plan ahead and get tickets in advance at 303-298-1970 or online by clicking on Concerts in the menu bar above. More details in subsequent Weeklys.