The Reformation anniversary concerts of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir this last weekend were a success in every way. Artistically, I thought the choir was really quite marvelous at all three concerts, singing with precision and beauty as well as great feeling. Audience response seemed quite enthusiastic (I was very touched by the number of persons I saw in tears afterwards; and I got a lot of comments after concerts about how people thought the concert was well-programmed [or well-structured/-conceived], which is always something I take particular pleasure in, when I hear of it). And the audience numbers were healthy, with about 500 people at the three concerts combined. My thanks to all who came; and my thanks to the singers who put stupendous effort into everything, both in terms of preparation and execution.

The next major events for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir are, of course, the Christmas concerts (more below); but before that, 35 singers (20 Chamber singers and 15 Festival singers) will be joining the Denver Young Artists Orchestra in two performances of Handel’s Messiah, pt. I. These are on two consecutive weekends, as follows:

  • Sun. Nov. 12, 2:30pm, Lakewood Cultural Center
  • Nov. 19, 2:30pm, St. Luke’s UMC, Highlands Ranch

Tickets are available through DYAO, and I’m not sure how much they are or how to get them; but if you go to the Denver Young Artists Orchestra website, I’m sure you will find the desired info.

As for our Christmas concerts this year, they are called “A Winter’s Night,” named after one of the two main works in the program. The title work is a 15-minute piece, sort of a medley of 5 familiar Christmas tunes, delightfully and artfully arranged for organ and choir by British composer Cecilia McDowall, who has become a friend of MB’s and mine. I met her at the ACDA convention in March of this year in Minneapolis; I have since performed a piece of hers with my church choir (and more to come in Advent); and she was kind enough to ask us to stay a night at her home on our European excursion in May/June, where we had the honor and pleasure of meeting her husband and mother. Richard Robertson will be joining us as the organist on this and other works.

The other major work is by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), and one of my favorite Christmas works of all, his 30-minute cantata “A Boy was Born.” Written as a choral theme and variations in his early 20’s (and quite a tour-de-force for one so young), he thought enough of it as a mature composer to revise it in his 50’s. It has a sort of ancient feel to it, despite his modernism as a composer. I’ve heard the term “ancient/modern” used occasionally about certain things like church services (ancient liturgy, modern language, for instance); and it applies to this work in that the harmonic palate is 20th century; but the overall “feel” of the work is of ancient mysticism and a sort of medieval beauty. If you’re someone who dislikes modern music as a rule, don’t let this put you off in this case, as the work is quite accessible and uses dissonance as an expressive tool, rather than as a modus operandi.
Here are the concert dates/times/venues, and tickets are on sale from our website or by calling the office at (303) 298-1970.

  • Fri. Dec. 15, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Denver
  • Sat. Dec. 16, 7:30pm, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church, Park Hill
  • Sun. Dec. 17, 3:00pm, St. Paul Lutheran and R. C. Community of Faith, Denver
  • Fri., Dec. 22, 7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village