Saturday, December 29, 2007

First Night

One more quick tip before I nip out of town. If you are staying in Boston, don't miss First Night, a celebration of the arts all over the city. There are mini-concerts all over the city at all times - it's like musical dim sum! To check out the listings, go to the First Night Boston site.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Revels!

I just had the enormous enjoyment of seeing the Christmas Revels. One of the nice perks of working for The Boston Cecilia is that as a member of ArtsBoston, we occasionally get e-mails alerting us to free ticket offers for ArtsBoston members. Usually I can't take advantage of these because they are sent out almost the day of the performance, usually at the end of a run. However, yesterday I got a note that ArtsBoston members could pick up free tickets to the Christmas Revels, so tonight I took my parents.

It was great fun, as it always is. The Christmas Revels happens every year in Sanders Theatre (and other places in other states) and is a winter solstice singing/dancing/story-telling performance that focuses on a different area of the world each year. This year was the year of the Balkans. It was very well done, very tight and well-paced, and hugely enjoyable. Special props go to Libana's singing, which really had the proper gritty thrilling Balkan's women sound; the dancers, and most especially lead dancer and choreographer Petar Petrov, who were exuberant, and had fascinating feet; the mummers, especially Sarah Hebert-Johnson as Room and the aptly named Rowan Swanson as the Tree of Life, both of whom were very charming actors; and last but not least narrator Debra Wise, who was just incredibly charismatic and wonderful in all ways. There are some people whom you just love to watch on stage. A quick Google search shows that she is the artistic director of the Underground Railway Theater, about which I currently know nothing, but if it means seeing her perform, I will definitely look into learning more.

My one complaint is that since Revels started out very firmly rooted in the English solstice tradition, they feel the need to incorporate certain elements of that tradition every year, and I found the juxtaposition of Balkan and English a little awkward. The main Balkan section flowed so well that to suddenly have Morris dancers appear, or to have the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, or to be singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at the beginning of the performance did not really work for me. I do recognize that there are certain things that people look forward to every year, and that it would be hard for Revels to cut out, say, "The Lord of the Dance" that traditionally ends the first half. But I do wish that we could have sung some Balkan carols at the beginning instead of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

However, that was my only quibble, and it was a minor one, and was about programming, not performances, which were uniformly excellent. You have two more days, so if you have time, I heartily recommend this year's Revels!

And now, I am off to my own traditional New Year's celebration in the Berkshires, so won't be posting until next year. I wish you all splendid New Year's celebrations of your own - Wolcum Yole!

Weekend Concert Eh, 12/28/07

Well, I'm a day late with the weekend concert calendar, but since the offerings are thin, I doubt the lack of timely information really hurt anybody's musical plans, eh?

You can still go see the Christmas Revels. I highly recommend it this year, having just been myself! And Boston Baroque is ringing in the new year with performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's Wedding Cantata on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 8 pm and Tue Jan 1, 2008 at 3 pm.

And...that's it! Never fear, the very first weekend of the new year will feature some very exciting offerings, including yours stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Auditions in January

Merry Boxing Day to all! If you celebrated Christmas, I hope it was happy and bright; if you did not, I hope you had a splendid winter's day.

For those of you looking to sing with someone, January is the second prime time of the year (after August/September) for auditions. The Back Bay Chorale is having auditions, and they are a splendid group to sing with (Mark, that means you!); more auditions can be found if you keep your eye on the Greater Boston Choral Consortium website. And if you are a second alto or a tenor, The Boston Cecilia just might be interested in hearing you as well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar PS

But wait! If you are willing to branch out from choral music, you have another stellar concert option on Saturday evening!

My father (who is the father of not only one, but two stellar bloggers of future renown) is a member of the New England Brass Band (NEBB for short.) They are a stellar brass ensemble based in the Boston area, and directed by Douglas Yeo, who plays bass trombone for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, they won the Honors division of the North American Brass Band Championships.

Second only to choirs, of course, few ensembles are as evocative of the Christmas season as brass ensembles. On Saturday at 7 pm at the Free Christian Church, 31 Elm St, Andover, MA, they will presenting a holiday concert that is sure to be tight, tuned, and generally terrific. Hope to see you there!

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/20/07

Whew. Well, if you are in Boston, we are honestly getting to the weather point where I can't blame you if you stay inside and bake cookies all weekend instead of hearing some choral music. However, if you are a hardier soul than I (or just are a total weirdo who actually likes snow) here are some options! There are some very fine concerts this week, so it is probably worth your while to put on your snow pants.

First of all, I just trudged out to Andover for a rehearsal in a snowstorm, so all I can say is that it sure would be nice if people heard the performance! On Sunday at 5 pm, the choir of Christ Church in Andover (plus me!) under the direction of Barbara Bruns will be presenting a Lessons and Carols at 5 pm, which will include a full performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols. This is a reschedule from last week, when it had to be cancelled due to (surprise!) a snowstorm. It's really sounding quite beautiful, and Barbara is a very careful and subtle conductor, who really gets good things out of her choir. Plus, I have a four-bar solo! Sunday, 5 pm, Christ Church in Andover - directions are here.

My other pick for the week is definitely the Blue Heron concert on Saturday. Blue Heron is a professional Renaissance choir, and although I've never had the delight of hearing them myself (and won't this Saturday either) their reputation is for truly stunning performances. They are our very own local Tallis Scholars, although I suspect they might be even better. They will be performing a program called "A Medieval English Christmas and a Burgundian New Year" on Saturday at 8 pm at the First Church in Cambridge (the Congregational one.) Details are on their elegant and navigable website.

And, working backwards in time (we've already covered Sunday and Saturday) my pick for Friday night would be the Chorus pro Musica concert conducted by Lisa Graham at 8 pm at Old South Church in Copley Square. It is late and I am tired, so I will just quote directly from their press release: "
Celebrate the mystery and joy of the season with this concert of elegant and festive music, including the Christmas Cantata by Boston composer Daniel Pinkham for chorus and brilliant brass. The program includes the sublime "Let all mortal flesh keep silence," set by Gustav Holst, and Morten Lauridsen's "O magnum mysterium." Keeping with long tradition, there will be a candlelight procession and opportunities for the audience to join in singing carols. Joining the chorus for this concert will be the New England Conservatory Children's Chorus (Jean Meltaus, Director) and the Riverside Brass Quartet."

What else is on this weekend? Not a whole lot, especially compared to last week. I think this is because most musicians are frantically scurrying around trying to prepare for all their Christmas services this week. In fact, there are pretty much no other options for Friday and Saturday, so it's a good thing that your one option for each night is so stellar! A few more on Sunday...


On Sunday at 7 pm at the First Congregational Church in Camden, you can hear Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio (which I am fascinated by, b/c I haven't heard of this piece.) I couldn't find many details, but there is an address and phone number on this website.

If you are out west, then on Sunday at 7 pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton you can join a Messiah sing! Hosted by Commonwealth Opera - details on their website.

Monday evening, of course, features tons of beautiful services at every church anywhere, but one choice is to hear Pinkham's Christmas Cantata at the Lessons and Carols service at King's Chapel on Tremont Street at 10:30 pm.

Monday, December 17, 2007

G&S Medical spoof

Via friend AN, we have a Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song on, what else, psychopharmacology. (Thank goodness for subtitles is what I have to say!)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Caroling Mob

I believe it got a bit hidden in the mass of choralocity I listed yesterday, but I just wanted to highlight the Caroling Mob (who are organized enough to have their own website.) On Sunday at 4 pm, you can join Joel Sindelar and the Loose Canon Chorale at the Stony Brook T-stop, and then wander around JP singing to people, ending up with warm drinks (don't forget to bring a mug!) Haven't you always wanted to really, truly wassail someone? I'll be up in Andover singing Britten - that means someone should appoint themselves my deputy and go sing and then tell me how it is!

This of course brings to mind the following exchange from Ruddigore:

Mad Margaret: But see, they come – Sir Despard and his evil crew! Hide, hide – they are all mad – quite mad!
Rose: What makes you think that?
Mad Margaret: Hush! They sing choruses in public. That’s mad enough, I think!

Raise your glass to a bit of holiday insanity!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/13/07

First off, it should go without saying that you are NOT TO GO ANYWHERE tonight if you live in Boston. Everything is cancelled anyways, so just bake some cookies, brew some tea, and listen to a DVD of The Messiah or something.

However, on Friday, the fun begins! It's December in Boston, which means that there is more choral music than you can shake a stick at, so I will just give you the bare bones of each concert. Buckle your seatbelts - this will take a while!

My (non-choral) pick for Friday is friend Josh Lawton, who will present an organ concert at Church of the Holy Name in West Roxbury at 8:00 pm. He says, "The program will last a little over an hour, and will include the complete Nativité du Seigneur, Olivier Messiaen's first big programmatic cycle for organ, and probably his most popular as well. The concert will be free, with donations accepted at the door." He's a very good organist, and has a distinct flair for concert programming - come on by!

Also on Friday, December 14:

5:30 pm at the Church of the Advent in Boston, the Choirs of St. Paul's School present Lessons and Carols.

6:00 pm at Marsh Chapel at BU, the Marsh Chapel Choirs present a Lessons and Carols service.

7:30 pm at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, the Vienna Boys Choir is in town!

7:30 pm (also at 3:00 and 7:30 on Saturday, and 3:00 on Sunday) the Indian Hill Music School Opera Workshop presents Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Camilla Blackman Hall, 36 King Street, Littleton, MA.

7:30 pm (also Saturday at 7:30) at Jordan Hall, Boston Baroque presents Handel's Messiah.

7:30 pm at St. Andrew's Episcopal in Wellesley, the SAPAS men's chorus and Katherine Evans present An Evening with Brahms.

8:00 pm at the First Church in Cambridge, The Boston Camerata presents A Renaissance Christmas.

8:00 pm at the Tabernacle Church in Salem, MA, The Paul Madore Chorale presents A Concert for Christmas: Gabrieli, Charpentier and Pinkham.

And starting on Friday and going through the end of the month, The Christmas Revels returns to Sanders Theater!

My pick for Saturday is The Back Bay Chorale. On Saturday at 8:00 pm at Emmanuel Church in Boston, Scott Allen Jarrett will lead the chorale in A Boston Christmas - The Christmas Cantata by Daniel Pinkham plus holiday selections. They will repeat the program on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3:00 pm at Marsh Chapel on the BU campus.

Also on Saturday, December 15:

2:00 pm at the Arlington Street Church in Boston, the Boston Gay Men's Chorus presents a Family Holiday Matinee.

4:00 pm at Chapel of St. Joseph College, West Hartford, CT (a hike, but probably worth it!) the women of Concora present Britten's Ceremony of Carols and other Christmas music. I don't know anything about this group, but they look pretty cool.

4:00 pm at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston, the Trinity Church Choirs present Candlelight Carols. Again at 7 pm on Sunday. (There is also a benefit concert on Sunday at 4 pm.)

4:30 pm at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Charlestown, there will be an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols.

7:30 pm at Rogers Center for the Arts, Merrimack College, North Andover, The New England Classical Singers presents Wassail! Wassail! A program of traditional English Carols, Renaissance Works, and Christmas Spirituals.

7:30 pm at Christ Lutheran Church on Falmouth, the Solstice Singers present "O Sing of Light." (Repeats on Sunsay at 4 pm.)

And my pick for Sunday is me! I will be joining a performance of Britten's Ceremony of Carols at Christ Church in Andover. Come on by!

Or go and join the Christmas Caroling Mob at 4 pm at the Stony Brook T-stop! Serenade Jamaica Plain!

Also on Sunday:

I don't think I caught this one in my Messiah-sing round-up. 1:30 pm at the Performing Arts Center, 51 Walden St., Concord Center, MA, the Concord Orchestra will play some Handel and Bach, and then host a Messiah sing-along.

3:00 pm at Our Lady's Help of Christians Church, Washington St., Newton, MA, the Newton Community Chorus presents Handel's Messiah.

3:00 at St. Theresa of Avila Church, 2078 Centre St., W. Roxbury, MA, the Choirs of Holy Name and St. Theresa of Avila Parishes present their Annual Advent and Christmas Concert.

3:00 at St. Paul's Church in Harvard Sq., Cambridge, the Boston Boy Choir presents a Carol Festival.

3:00 pm at Jordan Hall, the Handel and Haydn Society's performs Bach's Christmas Oratorio. (You can also hear this on Wed., Dec. 18 at 8 pm at the same place.)

3:30 pm at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, enjoy a choral and handbell concert by students of the school.

4:00 pm at
the Parish of All Saints, 209 Ashmont St., Dorchester, MA, the All Saints Choir of Men and Boys presents The Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols. This one looks neat - the choir has good credentials.

4:00 pm at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, 1326 Washington St., W Newton, MA, Youth Pro Musica presents their annual winter concert (including Britten's Ceremony of Carols.)

4:00 pm at the Regis College Fine Arts Center, 235 Wellesley St., Weston, MA, Boston's Saengerfest Men's Chorus presents a Christmas Concert with the Worcester Brass Consort.

4:00 pm at Christ Church, Zero Garden St., Cambridge, MA, the Christ Church Choirs present a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

7:00 pm at the Longy School of Music, the Longy Chamber Choir presents Schutz and Bach.

7:00 pm at First Parish of Westwood, the St. Petersburg Men's Ensemble presents Russian sacred and folk music.

And of course, don't forget all those Messiah sings! I didn't list them again here, but the Masterworks sings are also this weekend!

Oh, and do me a favor - if this is useful to you, and you go to one of these concerts, leave me a comment about it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Messiah Sings

Over a week ago, intrepid reader Carolyn asked about local Messiah Sings. Some have already happened, but here is what’s left (with thanks to my dad for clueing me in to many of them.)

This Thursday, December 13, you can join the 36th Annual Messiah Sing at Harvard University’s Dunster House. From their website: “Everybody is invited to join us in this year's Messiah Sing on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 8:00 pm in the Dunster dining hall with the Mozart Society Orchestra and splendid undergraduate soloists. You, the audience members, sing the choir parts, or you can just sit and listen. Scores and refreshments will be provided. It's a great event and always a lot of fun. Don't miss it!!” A note says, “You can enter through the G-entryway on the Cowperthwaite street side of the building.” Here is an approximate Google map (I made up the number 5, but it’s a short street, and the maps shows you where it is.) Scores available.

I can personally vouch for the Messiah Sings annually hosted by the Masterworks Chorale, having enjoyed several of them in past years. They will host two, Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 8:00 pm at Cary Hall, 1605 Mass Avenue, Lexington. Scores available. If you only go to one Messiah sing, I’d probably choose this one (but then, I’m from Lexington!)

Also on Friday, December 14, at 7:30 pm the Wakefield First Congregational Church will host a Messiah Sing (Part I and the Hallelujah Chorus.) The address is 1 Church St, Wakefield, MA. Scores available.

On Sunday, December 16 at 7:30 pm, the Powers Music School in Belmont is hosting a Messiah Sing at the Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont Street in Belmont. Here is the website for Belmont Open Sings. Scores available.

Also on Sunday, December 16, at 3:30 pm, the Assabet Valley Mastersingers are hosting a Messiah Sing at Trinity Church, 23 Main St. in Northborough.

Also on Sunday, December 16, at 5 pm, the Harvard UU church (of Harvard, MA, that is) is hosting a Messiah sing. (Some) details are available both on the site and the church website.

On Wednesday, December 19 at 12:15 pm (wacky time, but take a long lunch!) there will be a Messiah sing at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont St. in Boston. EDIT: They provide scores if you don't have one of your own. Thanks to intrepid reader My Dad for the tip!

And if you just want to hear the Messiah, the Cambridge Community Chorus will oblige you with a performance this Sunday, December 16, at 3 pm at Kresge Auditorium, MIT, 84 Mass. Ave, Cambridge. Boston Baroque, Phillips Academy, and the Newton Community Chorus are also willing to oblige you – details on their websites.

NY Phil to visit North Korea

Well, well, well. The New York Philharmonic is going to head over to North Korea in February. Maybe they'll all make a movie together!

Twelve Days of Christmas, A Cappella Style

I'm happy to say the Boston Cecilia concerts went well, even though yesterday I lost my voice and had to manage the concert with no vocal chords. (And by the way, what is up with the fact that everybody starting signing things at me? Or mouthing? I lost my voice, not my hearing! Just because I'm gesticulating at you and whispering doesn't mean you need to return the favor. Oy.) I am very grateful to Boston Cares for providing ushers, one of whom was nice enough to stand around and be my voice.

Anyways, a little Advent treat. From friend RB, Straight No Chaser performs their version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 12/6/07

I am sorry to say that yours truly has come down with a nasty case of the flu, the highlight of which is an extremely swollen throat, not to mention fever, chills, aches, exhaustion, etc. So, you will not be getting your usual thorough review of the local choral offerings for this weekend. You will only get three, for which I feel a distinct personal attachment.

High on your priority list is The Boston Cecilia's holiday concert, called O Magnum Mysterium. This will be on Friday (tomorrow!) December 7 at Church of the Advent in Beacon Hill at 8 pm, and also on Sunday, December 9 at All Saints Parish in Brookline at 3 pm. The chorus will be singing some really beautiful, spiritual music by Britten, Tavener, Victoria, and more. If you went to my graduate conducting recital, you will recognize at least one piece - Village Wedding by John Tavener. This is going to be a very beautiful, ethereal concert. Friends AG and JL will be singing in the chorus. And on Friday, my dad will be conducting one of the pieces! My parents both came to Cecilia's gala last fall, and my dad bid on, and won, the chance to conduct Cecilia. It's his conducting debut - come support him! (On Sunday, I will be conducting the same piece - since it's the only accompanied piece on the program, and the conductor is accompanying it, she needed another conductor for Sunday's performance. I think she appreciated the symmetry.)

That leaves your Saturday free. You have two options. (Well, you probably have a billion, because it's December in Boston, but I'm going to inform you of two.)

The Cambridge Madrigal Singers, featuring friend JS, will be performing “Rise Up, Shepherd: Renaissance and Contemporary Christmas Music.” They will be singing Saturday December, 8th at 8 p.m. at the Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church , 1555 Massachusetts Ave , Cambridge. They will also be singing Sunday, December 9th at4 p.m. at the Lindsey Chapel at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St. , Boston. Tickets are $18; $12 for students and seniors. More information is here. I used to sing with this group, and I remember always getting to do interesting programs. I am going to try and get to the concert, but it rather depends on how I'm feeling.

Also, the Oriana Consort, directed by the delightful and energetic Walter Chapin, will be singing on Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm at the First Lutheran Church of Boston. More information, as well as the program, can be found here.

I am now off to order some takeout and climb back into bed. Wish me luck getting through two concerts to manage, not to mention a rehearsal on Saturday morning, this weekend!