PARK RIDGE, IL, November 6, 2018 – French baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s lively Messe de Minuit pour Noël (Midnight Mass for Christmas) will be featured at the Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) holiday concert, “Once, As I Remember: Old and New Music for Christmastime,” on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Raymond de Penafort Church in Mt. Prospect.
NWCS’s 53rd annual holiday concert also will include songs made popular by Elvis Presley, Indigo Girls, Mariah Carey, and Pentatonix, as well as other traditional and contemporary music. The NWCS’s new Artistic Director Kevin Kelly will conduct the chorus and the nine-piece Northwest Choral Chamber Orchestra for the December 2 concert. “For our first concert together, I have enjoyed working weekly with our singers the last few months, preparing what I think will be a beautiful program of Christmas music to showcase their considerable collective talent!” Mr. Kelly said after a recent rehearsal.
A complimentary discussion of the concert music will be hosted by Mr. Kelly at 3:30 prior to the concert.
Prolific and versatile, Marc-Antoine Charpentier primarily produced church compositions, including eleven masses, more than 200 motets, hymns and other liturgical music; he also composed overtures, symphonies, and other instrumental works for the church. The piece Messe de Minuit pour Noël dates from around 1694 and was probably composed for the Jesuit church of St. Louis in Paris, where Charpentier held the post of maître de musique. The Mass was intended to be sung at the midnight service on Christmas Eve, and uses eleven pre-existing and dance-like noëls, the French equivalent of Christmas carols that any 1690s French congregation would have known and loved.
In addition to the carol melodies that he adapted to fit various parts of the traditional five sections of Mass text, Charpentier also composed new independent movements that seamlessly blend together as the composition. “Charpentier has written some really wonderful music. Midnight Mass for Christmas is probably his best-known work, for good reason,” commented Artistic Director Kelly.
The following NWCS members will be featured as soloists for Messe de Minuit pour Noël: Kelly Mitroff, soprano, from Itasca; Angela Carlson, soprano, from Arlington Heights; Kelsey Green, alto/tenor, from Chicago; Greg Park, tenor, from Bloomingdale; and Brian Lee, bass, from Hoffman Estates.
Other holiday music on the concert program includes Once, As I Remember, a beautiful carol first published in an Italian collection of 1689 and in 1920 was included in a carol book edited by Charles Wood and G. R. Woodward; Mary's Little Boy Child, a 1956 Christmas song written by Jester Hairston with a calypso rhythm that has been recorded by Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Harry Connick, Jr. and Andy Williams; Blue Christmas, a song of unrequited love during the holidays written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and most famously performed by Elvis Presley; and All I Want for Christmas Is You, a song written (with Walter Afanasieff) and performed by singer and songwriter Mariah Carey.
Mary Jane Matecki of Mount Prospect, Diane Szuberla of Schaumburg, Carol Sandberg-Howe of Chicago, Jessica Logan of Arlington Heights, and Jamie Thompson of Mount Prospect will perform solos during the second half of the program.
Mr. Kelly also is the artistic director of the Allegro Community Chorus, a program of the Palatine Park District, conductor for the Lake County Núcleo of Sistema Ravinia, an outreach program of the Ravinia Festival, and, since 1993, music director of the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra in Champaign.
As music director of The Prairie Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra in Champaign-Urbana, he conducted collaborative performances with the University of Illinois Concert Choir and the Women’s Glee Club, Amasong, the Chorus of the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana and the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus. Mr. Kelly has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, The City Musick, Basically Bach, and His Majesties Clerkes (now Bella Voce).
He received bachelor’s degrees in English (essay writing) and music history and criticism from Northwestern University, and master’s degrees in orchestral and choral conducting from the University of Illinois. Mr. Kelly is a resident of Elgin, Illinois.
Tickets for the “Once, As I Remember: Old and New Music for Christmastime” concert are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at www.nwchoralsociety.org, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or an hour prior to the concert at St. Raymond de Penafort Church, corner of Elmhurst Avenue and Lincoln Street in Mt. Prospect.
NWCS’s golden anniversary commercial CD, And on Earth . . .Peace, includes several of the choral pieces performed at the December 2015 and 2014 holiday concerts, accompanied by the Chicago Gargoyle Brass, and will be for sale at the December 2 event.
The NWCS 2018-19 season includes two more concert performances. “If Music Be the Food of Love” will be performed on March 23, 2019 at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palatine, and “Cherish the Ladies” will be on June 1, 2019 at Our Lady of the Brook in Northbrook.
Lipke-Kentex-Hesse / Dionne Supply of Chicago is providing much appreciated sponsorship financial support for the Northwest Choral Society’s 2018-19 concert season.
Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature. Its adult membership resides in the greater Chicago area.
The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization. Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and at least 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.