Springfield Chamber Chorus’s 2019-2020 season is subtitled “What’s In A Name.” For their Winter Concert the ensemble focuses on the name “Emmanuel”—“God is with us” in Hebrew, and the name used in the Old Testament to refer to the coming Messiah. They will perform two “Emmanuel” concerts this weekend at two Springfield churches—one with free admission, the other ticketed. SCC Music Director Chris Brammer and Business Manager Katie Kring joined us on “Arts News.”
“It’s one of our favorite weekends of the year,” according to Brammer. “Christmas choral music is some of the most fun to sing, and some of the most recognizable as well. On Saturday night (December 7) we do our traditional, kind-of-formal Christmas performance at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (1115 N. Campbell). It’s a wonderful evening—it always is. It feels very much like a candle-lit Christmas Eve service, a lot of wonderful music. And this year particularly, some very exciting pieces. We’ve opened up our repertoire a little bit. So, some very traditional Christmas tunes, but also some things you might not be used to hearing around this time of year—a Romanian folksong, for example, from Transylvania, that is considered a Christmas song, as well as a (Gerald) Finzi piece (“Haste On, My Joys!”) that might not be, necessarily, a ‘Christmas’ text, but speaks to the Christmas story for sure.”
The Saturday night concert at St. Joseph’s is free and open to the public, but they request that audience members donate an article of clothing, said the Chorus’s Business Manager Katie Kring. “Something warm, Hot Hands, anything that would be of use to our homeless friends. The Springfield Chamber Chorus this year has started a new initiative, the ‘Springfield Street Choir,’ sort of our sister choir to the flagship performing ensemble, is this choir of 30 to 60 homeless people. They’re doing amazing(ly), we are so proud of them. So we wanted this concert to sort of feed into our outreach, and let people have an opportunity to contribute things that would be of use to our homeless friends. We will take them directly. The Street Choir is in partnership with The Connecting Grounds, which is (an interdenominational) church on Commercial Street that serves as a community center, food pantry, free store, things like that. So we will take it up there and it will get distributed to our (homeless) singers.”
There will be a second Springfield Chamber Chorus concert Sunday December 8 at 3:30pm at University Heights Baptist Church, 1010 S. National at Grand. “That’s a collaboration,” said Katie Kring. “One of the things that we’ve really wanted to embrace this year is collaborating with other ensembles in this community. There’s so much amazing choral music, and so we decided that we wanted to collaborate with other choirs, with singers in different parts of their singing lives than us—we are all grown adults for the most part, and we wanted to help integrate the pathway through a choral life in Springfield.” The Sunday afternoon concert will include “Bella Voce,” the chorus from Reed Middle School Academy, and the Ozarks Technical Community College Choir and Chamber Singers. “This has kind of become a Christmas tradition for us as well,” said Chris Brammer. “This is probably the third or fourth year in a row that we’ve had two concerts on this weekend—the first being a more ‘formal’ event with just Springfield Chamber Chorus, and the second being a more—I won’t call it ‘relaxed’, necessarily, but a more family-friendly, more collaborative experience, an afternoon concert featuring a bit more traditional Christmas music, and featuring some of our outstanding choirs from around the community.”
The Sunday concert is a ticketed event: tickets will be $5 students, $10 adults at the door, and available in advance from https://brownpapertickets.com (with service fees attached, so the prices become $6.24 and $11.49 respectively).
Katie Kring gave us more details on SCC’s Springfield Street Choir and their upcoming activities. “We are doing a lot of performances within the community. And one of the things we’re really excited about—we rehearse on Tuesdays, and this year Christmas Eve is on a Tuesday. So we are going to have a Community Carol Sing in lieu of our regular rehearsal. That way our singers get to have their consistent rehearsal, we get to see them, but anyone in the community who just wants to come sing with us—which we have a lot of interest in—can come at 3:30pm (on December 24, at Connecting Grounds church, 1109 E Commercial Street). And we will sing Christmas carols until we decide to stop! We’re putting it a little earlier in the day because we know people have church services to get to and things like that. So, we will sing carols for about an hour, and then our (homeless) friends will have dinner served by Gathering Friends (For The Homeless), which is a great organization.
“And then we have a big concert coming up for Street Choir,” Kring continued. “That’s going to be at the Springfield Art Museum (1111. E. Brookside Drive) on January 16th (at 7:00pm). That’s going to be in connection with Randy Bacon’s ‘The Road I Call Home’ exhibit. That’s going to be a big standalone concert for us. We’ll do a number of pieces.”
Kring said the Springfield Street Choir is available to perform at events. “We request an honorarium to cover the fees that we pay our singers. And other than that, we will come sing for you.” Information is available at https://www.springfieldstreetchoir.org, where there is a booking request form—click on the “Hire” tab at the top of the page.
“It’s an interesting year,” said Chris Brammer. “here are only two weekends in December for all of these wonderful things that are happening around town. We know that we are one of just a ton of things, whether it’s the Symphony, or the play we just heard about (the opening weekend of “A Doll’s House Part 2” at SCT Center Stage), or Vespers at Drury. This list can go on and on of things that are happening this weekend. For us, the most important thing is probably just that you get out and support something this weekend—go find something to support in the arts community this weekend, and show up and let folks know how proud you are of our community.”