Geoffrey Bush: Christmas Cantata and English Carols
Rodney Wynkoop, conductor with orchestra
- Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday, December 13 at 4:00 p.m.
Duke University Chapel, with Orchestra
For more information contact Choral Society of Durham at (919) 560-2733
Christmas is surely the most tradition-bound time of year. In the celebrating with family and friends, each one of us can point to those certain ingredients that make the season special. For many music lovers in central North Carolina, one “must do” is the annual Christmas concert by the Choral Society of Durham.
“There is so much incredibly beautiful music that’s been written for Christmas,” says Rodney Wynkoop, the ensemble’s conductor and artistic director, “really high-quality music for one of the most important parts of the year.” And while the Choral Society’s concerts have been described as “the preferred Christmas concert” from among the many offered in December, there is an added bonus: these performances are given at historic Duke Chapel.
Says Wynkoop, “The Chapel is an extra reason to come to this concert. There are tons of Christmas concerts out there, but we have this great acoustic and this magnificent building to look at while listening to the music.” This year’s concert features Geoffrey Bush’s Christmas Cantata, an exquisite collection of settings of traditional carols, mostly from medieval England. The cantata is for soprano solo and chorus, accompanied by string orchestra and oboe. To complement the cantata, a selection of English carols will be presented, some with string orchestra. The well-known Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, will also be performed by the instrumentalists.
Like prior Choral Society Christmas programs, what has been put together is a balanced program of beloved, recognized Christmas carols, plus a number of new settings of familiar texts. Wynkoop’s goal in choosing music is “to have enough identifiable tunes, so that [even] people who are completely new to choral concert going will find several things to love.”
“Most of the time, when I put together carols for our concerts, I have a sequence in mind: an opening celebration of the good news, to the annunciation (Mary being told she will bear Jesus), then coming to the manger where she is singing a lullaby to Jesus . . . followed by the presence of angels, kings, shepherds. Then moving forward to the world’s celebration of future glory and redemption.” The audience will hear the story through the carols, among them the traditional “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”, arranged by David Willcocks, and the best-known setting (in England) of “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” by John Gardner.
Concert-goers will certainly leave filled with the Christmas spirit.
Tickets are available from Choral Society of Durham singers as well as through a number of outlets in the Triangle. They can also be ordered through Duke Box Office. Cost is $20 for adults; students are free. More information can be found on the Choral Society website at: http://www.choral-society.org.