Voices young and old swell in songs of the season. A brass ensemble with trumpets, trombones, a tuba, and a French horn joins in with piano, organ, and chimes to form a festive cascade of sound. It’s that time of year, time to herald the joy and awe of Christmas and Chanukah, time for the Chester River Chorale to present A Chester River Holiday.
There will be two performances as part of Chestertown’s first Winterfest Weekend: the first is on Friday evening, December 5 at 8:00 p.m., and the second is on Saturday afternoon, December 6 at 1:00 p.m., a new time and day for a Chorale matinee. Both are in beautiful sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown.
Voices from singers 8 to 80 will swell in songs of the season as the Chorale is joined by the Chester River Youth Choir, founded and directed by Julie Lawrence, a soprano and board member of CRC.
The brass, organ, and chimes will set the celebratory tone as the concert opens with Ken Amis’s Bell-Tone’s Ring and closes with a foot-tapping, hand-clapping gospel version of Joy to the World. In between will be a highly energetic setting of Gloria in excelsis Deo, the poignant Carol of Joy, The Dream Isaiah Saw, composed in response to September 11, 2001 attacks, and a lickety-split musical version of Clement Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas, paced to keep up with Santa’s speediest reindeer.
“Much of our repertoire this season was composed or arranged for the world-renowned Canadian Brass and Empire Brass ensembles,” said Douglas D. Cox, the Chorale’s artistic director. “We intend to make this a most memorable holiday season for our audience.”
Sammy Marshall, the Chorale’s accompanist on piano; guest organist, Stephen Harouff; and percussionists Ken Schweitzer and John Leupold, both of Washington College music faculty, will round out the instrumentalists.
Cantor Gary Schiff, leader of the Chestertown Havurah, returns for an eighth holiday concert with the Chorale, and will be featured on two solemn songs in Hebrew, and then, in a change of pace, a rollicking celebration of The Feast of Lights in a cha-cha version of Ocho Candelikas (Eight Little Candles). The lyrics are in Ladino, a mixture of Spanish and Hebrew coined as an everyday language by Jews in Spain in medieval times.
The Chester Chamber Singers, drawn from the ranks of the full Chorale, will present one of the earliest American Christmas carols, William Billings’ The Shepherd’s Carol; and two tender lullabies, You Will See an Angel Tonight, and Johannes Brahms’ Geistliches Wiegenlied with Nevin Dawson on solo viola.
The Chester River Youth Choir will be featured on an ethereal setting of Angels We Have Heard On High, and the joyful Angel Choir and The Trumpeter. The audience will get their chance to join in on the Christmas classic Silver Bells.
Suggested donations at the door are $15. No tickets will be sold. The Chorale has been performing to full houses for the past several years, so patrons are urged to come at least 15 minutes early to be assured of being seated.
Chorale members are amateur singers drawn mainly from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. No audition is required..
The Chester River Chorale is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization funded in part by the Kent County Arts Council and by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.
The CRC’s Mission is to provide opportunity and inspiration for amateur singers to strive for artistic excellence. CRC performances entertain diverse audiences and enrich the cultural life of the community. For more information visit www.chesterriverchorale.org or call 410–928-5566.