What more and different can I say about the St. Martin’s Christmas concerts (“A Winter’s Night”) this year than I have already said? Perhaps this: My list of pros and cons for each venue (this is very subjective, so please don’t be offended if I say something you disagree with! My apologies, if I do).

  • Friday, Dec. 15, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Capitol Hill — by far the most popular of our venues (ticket sales are quite healthy here already, so I’d advise advance purchase if this is your selection), perhaps because of the beauty of the cathedral itself (the first minute of our promo-video this year was taken at St. John’s, from a Christmas concert filmed there in 2012, so you can judge for yourself). The acoustics are good (7 out of 10, in my opinion), and the organ is the best of the four venues, but, as the nave is long and thin, you may feel a half mile away from the choir if you’re sitting in the rear pew. This can either be nice (atmospherically distant) or not, depending on your view. Parking can also be a challenge, though the More Middle School lot on 13th and Clarkson is open for St. John’s concerts.
  • Saturday Dec. 16, 7:30pm, Montview Presbyterian Church, Park Hill — Our second most popular venue — it is also usually decked out in great seasonal array and quite festive, and it has the same neo-Gothic-stone-church “feel;” the acoustic is slightly better than St. John’s (7.5 on my scale), and the back row is not so far away from the choir as at St. John’s, even though it’s still a long and thin nave. Parking is better here, but I do hear of people who have had trouble finding parking that is close by. But if you’re prepared to walk 3-4 blocks, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Sunday, Dec. 17, 3:00pm, St. Paul Lutheran and Catholic Community of Faith, Capitol Hill — this is my personal favorite acoustic (9 out of 10), and I think it’s also a beautiful space, though not so awe-inspiring as either of the above. Parking anywhere downtown is an issue, but it is mitigated here slightly by the presence of several commercial lots within a block or two of the church. Be aware that these are not free, even though it’s Sunday afternoon, so you will have to pay; but the acoustic more than rewards this little extra expenditure.
  • Friday, Dec. 22, 7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village — the clear choice if parking or accessibility is a major concern for you, as they have a massive parking lot around the church, with lots of sidewalks and ramps and accessible features; and I would rate the pews as the most comfortable of the three venues. Bethany is a big space, and they’ve recently revamped their organ, so I’m looking forward to hearing it. I’d give the acoustics a moderate rating (6 on my scale), but not bad.

So there you have the Artistic Director’s “Inside List” of pros and cons. I hope it helps you make your selection. Tickets available at our website: www.stmartinschamberchoir.org/concerts; or our office at (303) 298-1970.

This Sunday, Dec. 10, is the final rehearsal for our “A Winter’s Night,” Christmas Concert, and we are offering a special event called “Wassail with the Singers.” This offers an advance (and an insider’s) view of the concert, followed by a reception hosted by the singers. This takes place at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2015 Glenarm Place, Denver (plenty of free parking north of the church), and tickets can be had by calling the office at (303) 298-1970. I often find rehearsals just as interesting (for different reasons) as concerts. And getting to mix with the singers has been great fun for many. The rehearsal is 2:00-4:30 in the church (come anytime during that period), and the reception is 4:30-5:30 in the church undercroft. If you can’t make any of the four concerts, due to travel plans or whatnot, this provides a fifth opportunity to hear the concert!

In last week’s announcement of a new scholarly book, I failed to mention the author!!!! Major apologies to Dr. Lionel Pike, my doctoral thesis advisor, and the retired organist of Royal Holloway College, University of London, under whom I worked and sang for two years in the early 90’s. The book is called ‘Peter Philips at the Archdukes’ Court: Church Music in the Spanish Netherlands’ (Austin Macauley, London). Peter Philips was a Tudor era composer who fled Britain after the Reformation due to his staunch Catholicism, and worked on the Continent. A fascinating composer, combining the continental style that he absorbed later in life with his earlier English training. Dr. Pike did some post-graduate work on Philips, as I recall, so he has drawn on an entire lifetime of study to write this book.