A Choral Arts Christmas

Choir

On Saturday, December 19th, Choral Arts gave a wonderful Christmas Concert at the Trinity Parish Church in Seattle. Led by Robert Bode, and accompanied by Libby Watrous, the Choral Arts choir sang Christmas songs and carols from multiple cultures. The concert was divided up into four parts: Seeking Sanctuary, Inviting Mystery, Mother and Child, and Love Came Down. Every piece had its strong points, and among the many wonderful carols that were sung, I was very impressed with three in particular.

When the Choral Arts choir sang The Road Home from “Southern Harmony”

, arranged by Stephen Paulus, I was engulfed in the story of the song. I believed them as they sang. The sincerity that they sung with cannot be taught. In order to be that believable when you’re performing you have to perform with true intention, from a meaningful place deep inside yourself that can only be sung out in song. The vocalises before each stanza were especially poignant. The arrangement was also beautiful. The traditional treatment of the harmonies complimented the choir’s timbre.  There were no individuals, only the choir as a whole. And, with the delicate pronunciation of the words, the audience wasn’t hit over the head with syllabic singing.

My favorite German piece of the program was Komm, Heil’ger Geist

by Georg Schumann. The intent behind the singing was also wonderful in this piece. That sincerity coupled with the effectiveness of their dynamic contrast and the modulation in the middle of the piece heightened the auditory response and made the performance even more powerful. Right before the modulation the sopranos were singing in octaves with the altos and the effect was heavenly. The sopranos were able to sit on top of the harmony without overpowering the choir, while enhancing the harmonics of the chord. It was an excellent way to lead the audience into the dramatic key change.

Venez, Mes Enfants

, arranged by  Donald Patriquin, was also wonderful. The carol itself is very playful and light, and the mood created by the choir with their bubbling voices and delicate pronunciation emulated the phrase, “C’est La Vie.” The call and response section between the men and the women was especially enjoyable. The Choral Arts women had a strong core sound that resonated into the highest arches of the church and the men’s voices were just as powerful. My favorite part of the piece was the ending. The coordinated release at the end of the last verse was breathtaking. It made the silence following the piece all the more deafening. Overall, the performance was fantastic and I would highly recommend seeing them when they come back to Seattle. Their next concert is going to be at St. James Cathedral on Saturday, March 20th at 8PM.

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