Company at the Crèche - Palo Alto
It's a magical moment. With the sound of sheep bells in the distance, shepherds bumping over cobblestones, and a choir of crows cawing, the acclaimed San Francisco Choral Artists bring the Christmas story down to earth in their upcoming concerts. Their 25 well-balanced voices shine in a program including Daniel Pinkham's charming "Company at the Crèche," Renaissance music, and five world premieres written especially for this outstanding ensemble. Three pieces feature hand bell player David Kashevaroff.
When Artistic Director Magen Solomon told composer Wayne Eastwood about the theme for this concert, he sent his "Crows on a Certain Evening" as his gift to the Choral Artists. The text a poem by Julia Cunningham features a "tempestuous" loud choir of crows cawing instead of angels singing on the "certain evening," Christmas Eve.
Eastwood's piece is one of five world premieres written especially for the San Francisco Choral Artists on this program. The other four are by special friends of the Choral Artists Tina Harrington and John Kelley, and by the ensemble's Composer-In-Residence Allen Shearer and Composer-Not-In-Residence Matt Van Brink.
Allen Shearer's "The Holy Innocents" is set to a poem by Robert Lowell. While the text is darker and more complicated than most on this program, it shares the down-to-earth and animal theme with the other pieces: "The oxen drool and start in wonder at the fenders of a car, and blunder hugely up St. Peter's hill." Matt Van Brink's "Lull the Solemn Night," set to a poem by Thomas Merton, illustrates the sound of sheep out on the field at night: you hear the sheep bells moving away, the sound disappearing into the distance. Tina Harrington's "Procession of the Animals" and John Kelley's "The Friendly Beasts" both feature animals telling the audience what each of them was doing at the time of Jesus' birth, and both feature hand bells. Harrington's piece however is in the form of a processional, while Kelley's work is more lighthearted, with irregular rhythms, the basses in the choir imitating plucked strings and other comical details.
In addition to these world premieres, and Pinkham's charming "Company at the Crèche," the program features several Early Music pieces, most also with a focus on ordinary people and animals: "La nuict froide" by Lasso, "Vamos al Portal" by Guerrero, "Pastores, dicite" by Morales, "O Magnum Mysterium" by Vittoria, and "All Sons of Adam," a 15th century Scottish piece for men's voices only.
St. Mark's Episcopal Church (View)
600 Colorado Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306
|Minimum Age: 8|
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|