Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hear the “Best Christmas Carol Ever” TODAY at CONCORA’s “Christmas Through the Ages”


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Yesterday, CONCORA had its dress rehearsal for its holiday concert, “Christmas Through the Ages,” which we will present in TODAY (December 11) at Center Church in Hartford (4:00 p.m.), in Hampton on December 16, and in Norfolk on December 22. (Details on times and venues are at the end of this post.)

One of the many beautiful works that Mr. Coffey has chosen for this program is a favorite setting of a favorite Christmas poem. Here’s my program note for this piece.

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Is there any Christmas poem more loved than “In the Bleak Midwinter,” written around 1872 by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)? Her verse, which has been called “nigh-on perfect as a Christmas text,” has inspired many of the world’s finest composers, from Gustav Holst, who first set the poem in 1909 to Harold E. Darke (1888-1976), whose 1911 setting we offer on this program, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of its composition. Darke’s setting was named “Best Christmas Carol” in the BBC Music Magazine’s 2008 survey of 50 British choirmasters and choral experts.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

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Do come to the concert to hear this, and other songs of “Christmas Through the Ages.”

You can read all my posts about CONCORA’s Christmas programs, including lots more information about this concert, and a listing of all the selections on the program, here:
http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/search/label/CONCORA%20Christmas

CONCORA presents “Christmas Through the Ages”
Richard Coffey, Artistic Director and Conductor
TODAY! Sunday, December 11, 2011, 4:00 p.m.
Center Church, 60 Gold Street, Hartford, Connecticut
Information: www.concora.org or 860-293-0567
Directions: http://www.centerchurchhartford.org/contact/directions.html

Two additional performances!

Friday, December 16, 8:00 p.m.
Hampton Congregational Church, 163 Main Street, Hampton, Connecticut
Information: www.concora.org or 860-293-0567
Directions: http://hamptonucc.org/

Thursday, December 22, 8:00 p.m.
Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, Route 44, Norfolk, Connecticut
Information, Tickets, and Directions: http://www.infinityhall.com/ or 866-666-6306

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