“Strike the harp and join the chorus…”
In December the Washington Master Chorale (WMC) will present a pair of festive holiday concerts spanning musical gems ancient and modern. The centerpiece of the concerts will be the world premiere of Donald J. McCullough’s When Christ Was Born, an atmospheric setting of eight Middle English carol texts scored for mixed chorus, soprano and baritone soloists, with harp accompaniment. A celebrated conductor and composer, McCullough was the composer of last season’s acclaimed The Eye Begins to See, which received its world premiere with the Chorale in March of 2013. For these performances, we will be joined by distinguished harpist Marian Rian Hays, who commissioned When Christ Was Born in memory of her late son, Cameron. The Chorale will then pay tribute to two European masters of the choral art form with Francis Poulenc’s evocative settings of the poetry of Paul Eluard, Soir de Neige, written in 1944 and Herbert Howells’s beseeching call for peace, the carol-anthem “Long, Long Ago,” composed in 1950 and based on a poem by John Buxton, written when the latter was a Prisoner of War in 1940.
These musically eclectic concerts will also feature debut performances by WMC’s assistant conductors, Rachel Carlson and C. Paul Heins. Carlson will lead the Chorale in a trio of pieces that displays its virtuosity: “Hodie” from Poulenc’s Quatre Motets Pour le Temps de Noel, Josef Rheinberger’s “Abendleid” Op. 69 no. 3 and the venerable Sussex carol arranged by Sir David Willcocks. And Heins will present three similarly diverse carols: “The Ship Carol” from Stephen Paulus’s Jesu Carols for harp and chorus, Willcocks’s arrangement of the seasonal classic, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and Hein’s own arrangement of Gustav Holst’s “Lullay my Liking,” with text dating back to a 15th century Middle English carol.
So get out your pitch pipes and commence vocalizing. We look forward to hearing your voices caroling with ours, filling the halls and ushering in the season of joy and goodwill.
Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
6601 Bradley Blvd.
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National City Christian Church
5 Thomas Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20005
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