Richard and I went to the St. Ignatius Loyola Christmas concert on 12/16/18. The concert opened with the head priest making a little welcome speech - - it was about fifteen seconds long, gotta love that! The orchestra played a fanfare by Jeremiah Clarke, which was a diva moment for the timpani player, that guy was holding nothing back and going straight to town.
The processional hymn was “O Come All Ye Faithful” in a super glamorous David Willcocks arrangement. I was a little grumpy about four verses, but I came around when I heard the descant in the third verse and the surprising harmonies in the final verse. Here is it straight from the source, King's College Cambridge:
Next was “Do You Hear What I Hear?” in a full Hollywood arrangement. The children’s choirs were in front of the orchestra, and of course they were adorable. Two little kids, a boy and a girl, about five years old each, were dead center, and they looked rather uneasy. Which only added to their cuteness.
I’d never heard “A New Year Carol” by Benjamin Britten before, that was lovely. I was tickled to hear the Holst “Christmas Day” medley, I remember my brother Patrick singing that in high school choir concert. The Vaughan Williams “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” opened with a gorgeous solo by cellist Arthur Fiacco, one of the highlights of the concert. Luminous writing for the strings, of course. The baritone soloist, Tim Krol, had a sweet voice.
The orchestra played the “Sicilienne” from *Pelléas et Mélisande* by Fauré, which opened with an elegant flute solo by Sato Moughalian. The choir sang a set of a cappella choral pieces. My favorite was “Nova, nova” by Williametta Spencer, sung beautifully by the women’s choir. They did a setting of “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Harold Darke, it’s always nice to hear a familiar text with a new tune, and the arrangement was an interesting mix of a cappella and organ.
We all sang “Silent Night,” and the arrangement had a big loud moment for chimes. Really? Isn’t that sort of off brand for “Silent Night”?
Soprano Wendy Baker sang “O Holy Night.” She did a good job but I wasn’t as wild for her as much of the rest of the audience. I’d like a little more bloom in the sound. My favorite moment was when she sang the high B flat and a little girl in the children’s choir whipped around in shock, a “What the hell was that?” moment. Cracked me up.
We sang the “Hallelujah” chorus and “Joy to the World” and that was that. A delightful program, wonderfully varied, and a first class performance.