Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra (2019)

7:30pm November 23rd, 2019 at Pacific Spirit United Church, Vancouver

Welcome to Elektra’s celebration of the Christmas season! We are so glad you have chosen to spend this time with us and we hope you leave refreshed and uplifted.

Choirs have a special place keeping melodies alive and, indeed, the tunes we present for you today are something of a “road trip” across Europe. Each of the traditional songs on the program has been sung continuously year after year for hundreds of Christmases.  From a busker in a subway station to a church service, to a home singalong or a huge concert with choir and symphony orchestra, this is music that says “Christmas” in many cultures.

Those of you who have been following Elektra for some time will know that an important part of our mandate is to create and share new music that will be of interest to other women’s choirs. As much as we treasure the old melodies, we are also interested in brand new music, and embark on its discovery with great excitement. To that end, we bring you four original compositions today that each evoke the stillness and magic of Christmas night.  So Hallowed is That Time by our own Stephen Smith uses the actual melodies of the meadowlark, robin, mourning dove, wood thrush, red-winged blackbird, rufous-sided towhee, and white-throated sparrow and the musical pitches contained in them to set Shakespeare’s scene from Act 1, scene 1 or Hamlet. Two settings of O Magnum Mysterium, one from Switzerland and one from Argentina, are very different from one another but equally evocative, and Little Tree by Mark Sirett reflects the childlike charm of E. E. Cummings’ poem.  To close the concert, a new arrangement by our own Susan Edwards of O Little Town of Bethlehem.

We welcome our guests, violinist Joan Blackman, cellist, Rebecca Wenham, who will play four movements of Glière’s “Eight Duets, op 39 for violin and cello”. The Vancouver Bach Children’s Chorus under director Marisa Gaetanne, performed a solo set that included Tom Anderson’s “The Festival of Lights”, Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum”, and “The Nutcracker in About Three Minutes”, an arrangement of Tchaikovsky by Mark Weston. My thanks to all for bringing their talents to these concerts.

Read Morna’s Chez Nous 2019 -Listener’s Guide.

Performance Pieces:

  1. Veni, Emmanuel Ulrika Emanuelsson (arr) 
  2. Still, Still, Still Traditional Austrian Ken Berg (arr) 
  3. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella! Canadian Work Traditional French Sarah Jaysmith (arr) 
  4. O Magnum Mysterium Ivo Antognini
  5. Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging Traditional German Gunnar Eriksson (arr) 
  6. I Saw Three Ships Canadian Work Traditional English Edward Henderson (arr) 
  7. Los Peces en el Río Canadian Work Traditional Spanish Hilario Durán (arr) 
  8. So Hallowed is That Time Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  9. O Magnum Mysterium Santiago Veros
  10. Little Tree Canadian Work Mark Sirett
  11. Deck the Hall Traditional Welsh John Rutter (arr) 
  12. Carol of the Bells Traditional Ukranian Mykola Leontovych (arr) 
  13. O Little Town of Bethlehem Canadian Work Lewis Redner Susan Edwards (arr) 

Canadian Work Legend Canadian Work