A Cambridge Christmas
Full Ensemble of 24 voices with Ralph Valentine, organ
In the hushed moment before the service begins, the boy choristers of King’s College, Cambridge, shiver in apprehension of the fateful moment when their choirmaster Sir David Willcocks will point at one of them, and his will be the tremulous voice heard round the globe beginning the tune Irby, better known as “Once in Royal David’s City.”
In like fashion, the sopranos of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir will await the finger of fate from me, indicating which one will sing the same words and tune to begin our 2014 holiday concerts, “A Cambridge Christmas.”
The choirs of Cambridge are world famous, especially that of King’s College by way of the annual Lessons & Carols service (and broadcast) on Christmas Eve alluded to in the story above. But the other college choirs (Trinity, St. John’s, Gonville & Caius among them), though less famous, are as equally accomplished and, taken together, these choirs have been responsible for the creation of some of the world’s most recognizable Christmas music.
This Christmas concert will highlight some of this music, including five arrangements by Sir David Willcocks of beloved carols that will be sung together by choir and audience at the concert, accompanied by the glorious organs of the churches where we will be performing. Other beloved carols by Vaughan Williams, Howells, Stanford, Rutter, and Mendelssohn will complement the above; and a handful of still others – very fresh and new, commissioned by King’s College for its Lessons & Carols services – such as contemporary works by John Tavener, Judith Weir, and Jonathan Dove, will add some piquancy to the mixture.
The guest organist for this concert is Ralph Valentine, head of music for thirty-some years at Choate-Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, and currently the organist of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Denver. He will assist the choir in raising the rafters at Montview Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church, where three of Denver’s finest organs will peal forth in honor of the season.
I hope you will join us at one of these concerts! I look forward to seeing you, and hearing you join in on “God rest ye merry, gentlemen,” “O come, all ye faithful,” and “The First Nowell.”
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