The Central Coast Chorale will be presenting its annual Wishes & Candles holiday concerts in December.
The 50-voice choir, under the direction of Mary Lee Scoville, will be kicking off the holiday season with a selection of Christmas music on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. The concert will be repeated on Dec. 15 at the Yachats Commons, and then on Dec. 16, the chorale will perform a special version of the concert at the Newport Performing Arts Center, adding a small orchestra as accompaniment. All three concerts begin at 2 p.m. and have a suggested donation of $10 for admission.
Since the choir started off its fall season by participating in the Newport Symphony Orchestra’s anniversary concert, singing the famous Ode to Joy movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, members decided this year’s holiday concerts should include somewhat lighter fare. This music selection has resulted in a mix of all the aspects of the Christmas season, from awe to quiet reflection to joyous lightheartedness.
Instead of some of the larger works of serious classical composers that have featured at previous concerts, the chorale has chosen to focus on contemporary composers, folk tunes and fun. From the crystal clarity of the exquisite chords of Lux Aurumque by modern American composer Eric Whitacre, to the quiet meditation of Morten Lauridsen’s Sure on This Shining Night, concertgoers experience the magnificence of the season. The Wassail Song, by Vaughn Williams, and Gaudete, arranged by Brian Kay of the King’s Singers, are both based on traditional English folk melodies and connect one to the history of the celebration.
Folk tunes also bring two other songs on the program, one from Africa, Jabula Jesu, and one from the Ukraine, Sleigh Bells. Both will remind the audience just how much fun Christmas and the winter season can be.
The highlight of the concert brings all these themes together in one piece. The words of a traditional carol get mashed up with a whole host of famous tunes that walk through the history of music in A Musicological Journey through the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Central Coast Chorale’s small women’s group will, as usual, step out from the group to perform several songs, at least one with a recorder accompaniment from Eric Bigler. Women of Note will be performing a 17th century lullaby arranged by contemporary composer John Rutter that begins “sweet was the song the virgin sang.” They have programmed two madrigals to keep the mood festive for this concert. Throw Open Your Shutters is a high-energy original piece by Amy Feldman Bernon with some wonderful interplay between voices in a jaunty, staccato section where the singers imitate bells, “Hey! Ding-a-ding!" Christmas Madrigal ‘Roundezvous’ by Linda Spevacek-Avery is a sparkling, festive madrigal sung in the round. Yes, Roundezvous is an intentional misspelling. It exhorts “Prepare the song, the feast, the ball to welcome Merry Christmas all.” And continuing the merry theme of the concert, they have a silly piece titled Fruitcake, by Hagemann and Leka. Throughout this novelty song the ingredients for fruitcake are added one by one.
The Central Coast Chorale was founded in 1997 by director Scoville and a group of local residents who wanted to enjoy singing in a convivial, yet professional setting. The chorale has since doubled in size. They draw singers from as far north as Neskowin and south to Yachats, welcoming new members in January and August. They present three to four concerts a year and pursue a mission of sharing quality choral music with the community.