Featuring Admired Carols of Cultures Abroad and Traditional Holiday Sing-Along
Pilgrim Festival Chorus (PFC), the region’s principal community chorus will launch their 2012-13 season with the winter concert A Northern European Christmas on Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, December 2 at 4:00 pm, at The Church of the Pilgrimage, 8 Town Square in Plymouth. PFC Music Director William B. Richter will conduct the chorus and soloists accompanied by Elizabeth Chapman Reilly on the church’s treasured pipe organ.
Demonstrating the rich cultural heritage, A Northern European Christmas was conceived as a journey through some of the rich musical traditions of that part of the world. From carols which originated in medieval times through contemporary compositions, the program captures the spirit of this joyful season. Repertoire walks the listener through the entire season, exploring works spanning Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. The concert will offer selections as diverse as carols based on folk tunes, motets written by Renaissance composers Hassler and Sweelinck, pieces composed by Bach and Mendelssohn, and a number of 20th century settings of seasonal texts. Countries being highlighted musically are Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.
Individually, the selections were chosen to provide insight into the choral traditions of this revered region, where musical texture satisfies the spirit through repertoire for the season. Several of the selections are from the Piae Cantiones, a collection of texts dating from medieval times and published in Finland in 1582. The strong and stirring Personent Hodie (sometimes sung to the text On This Day, Earth Shall Ring) both opens and closes the concert. The work Gaudete, adapted by Canadian composer Stephen Hatfield, incorporates additional English text with the original Latin, imparting new life to the title.
An arrangement of Ave Maria rings out as the anticipated program highlight, created by Franz Biebl in 1964. Constructed of the first part of Angelus (Angelus Domini), combined with the text from the Ave Maria prayer, the work forms a hybrid from ancient texts. Originally scored abroad for male voices, the piece was performed first in the U.S. by Cornell University Glee Club. Biebl later arranged the work for choral performance, popularized by the famed Chanticleer classical vocal ensemble as part of their repertoire. “The work is technically challenging to the PFC membership,” shares Richter, “offering tight harmonies that resolve in a passionate sound pleasing to the listener.”
Several 20th century composers represented in the program, including Franz Biebl, Egil Hovland, Vaclav Nelhybel, and Max Reger, offering music that is harmonically rich, rhythmically vigorous, and melodically haunting. The repertoire is a mix of old and new, and familiar and unfamiliar, but all of the selections on the program unify to capture the thrill and anticipation of this festive season, something audiences have come to expect from the PFC’s winter concerts. “We’ll approach seasonal music in many ways,” says Richter. “The universal spirit of Christmas transcends the separation of centuries, country borders and musical styles. We’ll blend our communities of audience and choral singers together, creating joy that brings the spirit, beauty and love to the Christmas season.”
In their 14th concert season, the PFC membership numbers more than 80 vocalists of all adult ages dedicated to authentic choral singing. Richter and Reilly customize their approach to each season based on the collective sound the chorus produces. Amongst the performance, selected soloists from the chorus will share their talents.
Tickets for the performance are priced at $20.00 for adults, $18.00 for senior citizens and $15.00 for students over 14. Children under the age of 14 are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.pilgrimfestivalchorus.org, and are available at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, 11 North Street, Plymouth 508-746-7222; and from PFC members. To reserve tickets by phone, please call Susan at 774-283-4848. Complimentary refreshments will be served in the church hall immediately following the performance. For more information on the concert or PFC, please visit their website at www.pilgrimfestivalchorus.org, or follow Pilgrim Festival Chorus on Facebook.
About Pilgrim Festival Chorus
The Pilgrim Festival Chorus is a volunteer, not-for-profit, auditioned singing group dedicated to the performance of choral music; to give public and private concerts; to provide a musically educational opportunity to its members and the public; and to encourage and promote choral singing and the appreciation of good choral music. The PFC is funded in part by grants from many of the region's Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.