Springfield Chamber Chorus Concerts Emphasize the "Wonderment" of Christmas

Dec 14, 2018

The Springfield Chamber Chorus presents two Christmas concerts this weekend.
Credit (Photo by Stephanie Austin, courtesy of www.springfieldchamberchorus.org

The Springfield Chamber Chorus, comprised of approximately 40 professional-caliber singers who “come together once a week” for rehearsals, “to make the highest level of choral music we possibly can,” according to conductor Christopher Brammer. The group presents a cappella performances of both sacred and secular literature.  They'll perform two "Welcome All Wonders" Christmas concerts this winter season: Saturday, December 15th, 7 pm at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 1115 N Campbell Avenue, free admission; and Sunday, December 16th, 3 pm at University Heights Baptist Church, 1010 S National Avenue. Both concerts will feature various pieces from the 16th to the 21st centuries celebrating the holiday season.  The Sunday concert at University Heights church will feature as guests the Ozark Middle School 7th Grade Women's Ensemble. 

The Saturday night concert, says Brammer, “is one we’ve been doing for our whole existence (as a choir), for the past 10 years. It’s a tradition that we’re just incredibly excited to continue.  We’ve partnered with St. Joseph for those 10 years for I guess what you’d call a ‘formal’ Christmas concert.’”  He calls the chapel at St. Joseph’s “an ideal place to sing, probably the best acoustical venue” in the area, with an old-style European cathedral-like acoustic.  But, he says, “The space itself is not so large that that reverberation becomes an issue. But it’s the perfect size for a group of our size.”

Brammer calls the Chorus’s Sunday afternoon concert at University Heights Church “a little less formal of a performance. We change our lineup a little bit, but we also have collaborated with a guest choir from Ozark Middle School,” their 7th Grade Women’s Ensemble, including 50 girls out of the group’s total of about 120, who volunteered for the concert.  There will be numbers from the Saturday-night concert that will not appear on Sunday, as well as a group of new selections incorporating the Ozark Middle School girls, focusing “a little more on the formal aspects of Christmas” Saturday night “and a little more on the ‘carol’ side of Christmas” on Sunday, “and welcoming more of a family atmosphere.”

The SCC has done two slightly different Christmas concerts, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, for the past few seasons, with the thought that at least some of their patrons will want to attend both.

According to Brammer, the “Welcome All Wonders idea comes, at least from my brain, with the thought that, this time of season, no matter your religious background, no matter your upbringing, the December season—whether it’s the moonlight off the fresh snow or the Christmas lights on the houses or the candlelight that seems to be everywhere you go—it’s a season of wonderment.  And so as we sing this concert on Saturday night, that is kind of where our mindset was.”  Of course, the work opening the second half of that concert is “Welcome All Wonders” by contemporary composer David Bednall.

Anchoring the Saturday concert is the famous setting by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) of the ancient carol “Lo, how a rose” (Est ist ein Ros entsprungen).  “What we’ve done is, we’ve kind of woven various variations of that setting of the text throughout the program as placeholders—or, you might say, palette-cleansers.”  The Sunday concert starts with the Praetorius setting, says Brammer, but “in order to make space and time for the wonderful girls’ choir from Ozark, that’s one of the things that will not be re-occurring on Sunday.  I’ve had a chance to work with these girls over the past couple of weeks, and I am impressed.  I think that they’re going to add a lot to what we’re doing on Sunday.”

Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 students, available at the door, from the Chorus's Store page (http://www.springfieldchamberchorus.org/store.html), or by calling University Heights Baptist Church at 862-0789.