It’s amazing; even with the commercial establishments starting to sneak in a Christmas carol or two on Labor Day and an electronic error causing “the Little Drummer Boy” to totally take over the sound system at K-Mart for over five hours at a volume level perilously close to torture chamber conditions, Christmas music can still be moving.
Case in point…no, CASES in point : The Hiram “Messiah” sing for the community and the Christmas Concert at St. Ambrose.
The Hiram affair was a rousing success. The Hiram Community Trust was the sponsor of the event and it was hosted by the Hiram College Music Department and the Hiram Christian Church, who, as good hosts will, made sure that the participants and those who were listeners only were able to enjoy the experience to the fullest…and it was so…COMMUNITY. There were people from all over; there were people who lived virtually next door. Youngsters were in the “listeners only” cohort, as were veterans who had warbled their last recitative. There were “newbies” who’d never attempted this before and old hands with their own, well-thumbed , personally-marked copies of the score. The performance space in that old church was made for music and the jewel-tone stained glass windows warmed every note.
There were a lot of notes. The soloists–Hiram contributions and imports–illustrated the texts ( Part I, Old Testament, prophecies) deftly and powerfully and drew the assembled choir into the drama unfolding in the music (The basso made pages positively vibrate on some really low spots). All of the sections–soprano, alto, tenor, bass were well-populated (though tenors, being “pearls of great price,” recruited pretty heavily to buff up their numbers) and enthusiastic throughout–pretty good on entrances too. The members of the string quartet sawed away energetically at their instruments as the two bassoons provided “bottom” to the accompaniment and the pastoral symphony( As a devout people-watcher, I was taken with the fact that the first violinist looked like a time-sequence picture of a former student, Adam Etling. The violist had an instrument made of carbon fiber). The two players at the resounding Holtcamp organ stitched the whole together in orchestral fashion. Oh, it was smashing!
And every time the conductor, Dr. Dawn Sonntag, a heckuva soprano soloist herself, brought the chorus to its feet, the pews creaked, the seat cushions breathed a sigh of relief, there was an inhalation of the spirit and an outpouring of The Spirit of Christmas and the final “Hallelujah” said it all.
Then there was the St. Ambrose Christmas Concert. Same Spirit, new faces
The place was packed–having children in the program will do that for you–upstairs and down. There was an instrumental component here too; a clarinte rocked, a timpanist sat in one corner, a percussionist in another. Many individuals doubled as vocalists and bellringers. The O.K.(Only Kids) Chorale demonstrated both a high CQ (Cuteness Quotient) and fine musical competence. A brass choir added triumphant notes. Oh, it was a resounding success, all ‘round. Parents, grandparents, families of all shapes and descriptions got into the whole thing. It’s that word again–COMMUNITY–that makes all of the old favorites seem new again every time in such a setting. Bravo!
Still more to come : Garrettsville United Methodist Church presents “Tapestry of Light : A Celtic Christmas Celebration” on Sunday, December 11.
“Sing we now of Christmas…”