Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra (2022)

7:30pm November 26th, 2022 at Pacific Spirit United Church

Seasons greetings to all!

Thank you so much for joining us today as we sing music both old and new in celebration of Christmas. This is choral music with deep roots – likely the first choral sounds many of us heard. Most choristers would tell you they would happily sing Christmas music at any time of year. It connects us to places, generations, choirs and singers past, to ancient and mysterious texts, and to words and melodies we perhaps didn’t realize we knew by heart.

Our program today starts and ends with famous texts in praise of Mary, the mother of Christ. References to her as a noble and singular rose are centuries old. Canadian composer Kathryn Parrotta’s setting of Lo, How a Rose is newly-composed but the words may be familiar to you – Benjamin Britten also set them in his famous suite, A Ceremony of Carols. The mixture of English and Latin words is one of the enduring appeals of this text. Stephen Smith’s energetic The Time of Christëmas exhorts us to sing. And Larry Nickel’s beautiful Be Still and Consider evokes thoughtful consideration of the story we know so well. It also allows us to introduce you to our guest artist, saxophonist Julia Nolan, a favourite collaborator of Elektra’s over many years.

The last four pieces in the first half are arrangements of traditional carols. Singer and composer Winnie Brückner hails from Berlin. Her a cappella O Jesus, Sweet Child (originally O Jesulein Zart) is playful and rhythmic. The Spanish carol, Ríu, ríu, chíu, recorded by the Kings Singers and even The Monkees, is a contender for the best-known piece of Renaissance music. Please sing along with us as we close the first half with I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.

After intermission, with Hail, Christmas Day, composer Abbie Betinis continues her great-grandfather’s tradition of sending an original composition as a Christmas card. Hers are featured each year on Minnesota Public Radio. The beautiful O Nata Lux by Christian Bährens reminds us of how easily ancient words and the rise and fall of chant-like melodies coexist, even ones written recently. And Don Macdonald’s Winter Sun is like a vibrant, winter day. Stephen Smith and Julia Nolan partner for two distinct pieces: the first an obbligato line written by Stephen Smith for any melodic instrument over Bach’s Prelude in C-sharp major (WTC II), followed by O Come, O Come, Emmanuel , an anonymous 15th century carol, arranged by Lawrence Underwood. Our closing set ensures you will leave us with a song in your heart.

Again, thank you for allowing us to share our passion for choral music with you today. We hope to see you again soon.

Chez Nous Program 2022

Performance Pieces:

  1. There is No Rose Canadian Work Kathryn Parrotta
  2. Time of Christëmas, The Canadian Work Stephen Smith
  3. Be Still and Consider Canadian Work Larry Nickel
  4. O Jesus, Sweet Child (O Jesulein Zart) Traditional German Winnie Brückner (arr) 
  5. Sussex Carol Traditional English David Willcocks (arr) 
  6. Ríu Ríu Chíu Canadian Work Traditional Spanish Erica Phare-Bergh (arr) 
  7. Three in White: A Suite of Songs about Snow Canadian Work Various Stephen Smith (arr) 
  8. Hail, Christmas Day! Abbie Betinis
  9. O Nata Lux Christian Bährens
  10. Winter Sun Canadian Work Don Macdonald
  11. Yorkshire Wassail Canadian Work Traditional English Stephen Smith (arr) 
  12. I’ll Be Home for Christmas K. Gannon, W. Kent, B. Ram Mark Hayes (arr) 
  13. Still, Still, Still Traditional Austrian Ken Berg (arr) 
  14. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming Shawn Kirchner (arr) 

Canadian Work Legend Canadian Work