Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) will musically circumvent the globe when it presents its “Global Holiday” concert, celebrating the holiday season with traditional and contemporary music on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Raymond de Penafort Church in Mt. Prospect.
The annual holiday concert will feature compositions from Africa, South America, the British Isles, European folk carols and, of course, both old and new American favorites. William Lea is the Guest Conductor for the December 3 concert.
Among the holiday music selected for the program from American composers is Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium. The piece expresses the joy and awe that was felt by the shepherds as they celebrated and worshiped the Christ-child in the manger on Christmas eve. A National Medal of Arts recipient, Mr. Lauridsen’s works have been recorded on more than 200 CDs, five of which have received Grammy Award nominations, including O Magnum Mysterium.
Accompanied by handbells, Northwest Choral Society will present Andy Beck’s arrangement of Wenceslas Canon, with words from the English carol Good King Wenceslas set to the melody of Hey, Ho, Nobody Home for a whole new take on a familiar carol. Also on the program from the British Isles is the Scottish lullaby Baloo Baleerie. The first verse refers to the story of the changeling, whereby a fairy would secretly substitute its own offspring for an unguarded human baby. In the first verse, the fairies are told to leave, while in the second verse, guardian angels are asked to protect the child. The third verse advises the child to sleep softly.
Still, still, still is an Austrian Christmas carol and lullaby. The melody is a folk tune (authorship unknown) from the State of Salzburg and appeared for the first time in 1865. The words describe the peace of the infant Jesus and his mother as the baby is sung to sleep. Norman Luboff compiled the 4-part choral arrangement for this song in 1958. Fum, Fum, Fum is a traditional Catalan Christmas carol. It is thought to have originated in the 16th or 17th century. The word "fum", as indicated in the New Oxford Book of Carols, "may imitate the sound of a drum (or perhaps the strumming of a guitar”). The English version is not really a translation but a version based on the traditional Catalan carol, created by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw in 1953.
African holiday music will be represented on the program with Noel, sung with African Kituba dialect and bright rhythms capturing the feeling of a tribal celebration as it expresses the joy of the Christ Child's birth, and Dide Ta Deo, a traditional Nigerian folk song sung a cappella with accompaniment of percussion instruments that tells the story of a safe return home.
Guest Conductor William Lea is the director of choirs at the Latin School of Chicago, where he teaches choir and music technology, conducts the a cappella ensembles, and serves as vocal director for all musical productions. Prior to his position at the Latin School, he led the choral program at St. Patrick High School. Mr. Lea's choirs have performed for numerous festivals and collaborations, including the Northern Colorado Jazz Festival and in collaboration with L'Ecole Alsacienne in Paris, France. In 2004, he performed on the Grammy Award winning recording of William Bolcom’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience.” He performs in and around the Chicago area as a professional soloist, staff singer, and conductor. He is the conductor of the Schola of Saint Mary of Perpetual Help Church in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago. Mr. Lea received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan where he studied voice performance and music education and completed graduate work at Northwestern University, earning a master's degree in music education with a concentration in choral conducting and curriculum.
Tickets for the “Global Holiday” 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 3 event.
The NWCS 2017-18 season includes two more concert performances. “Celestial Songs” will be held on April 8, 2018 at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Des Plaines, and “She Shall Have Music” will be on June 2, 2018 at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights.
Lipke-Kentex-Hesse / Dionne Supply of Chicago is providing much appreciated sponsorship financial support for the Northwest Choral Society’s 2017-18 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 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.
Northwest Choral Society performed its “Celebrate the 70s” concert at All Saints Lutheran Church in Palatine in June.