PETERBOROUGH, Nov. 4, 2013: As anyone who has visited the mall during the Christmas season knows, not all Christmas carols are created equal. But to the relief of those who are pondering crawling into a carol-free cave for the duration of the Christmas season if they hear one more saxophone-laden rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, there is Carols with Brass – the Peterborough Singers’ annual Christmas concert and a guaranteed cure for those Christmas blues.
Featuring an exhilarating blend of the 100-voice choir, a virtuosic brass quintet, a world-renowned organist, top-notch guest performers, and a selection of some of the greatest Christmas music ever written in exquisite arrangements, Carols with Brass is the Christmas concert you need to reignite those feelings of festivity that you remember from your childhood.
Join the choir on Saturday, November 30 for rousing renditions of traditional carols such as The First Nowell and Hark the Herald Angels Sing; or sit back as the Singers unfold the intricate tapestry of Glory Be to God from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; or lose yourself in the transcendent harmonies of modern carols by composers like Karl Jenkins and John Ireland.
“There is nothing like it: choir, audience, brass, and organ raising the roof!” gushed Syd Birrell, artistic director for the Singers, about the traditional audience-participation sections of the concert.
Also returning this year will be the rough-and-tumble One Cold Night, an original composition by Len Ballantine commissioned by the Singers that was a big hit when it first debuted in 2011. The song tells the story of a group of musician-shepherds and the musical magnificence that transpires when their improvisatory jam on Christmas Eve is unexpectedly crashed by a heavenly chorus.
“We are delighted to include some traditional Hannukuh songs this year,” said Birrell. “The Christmas carols with a sprinkling of Hanukkah songs will make this an evening of celebration.”
This year the choir will be joined, as in past years, by Venabrass, a family of virtuosic brass players. “This year we have made the connection between the choir and Venebrass stronger by commissioning Marcus Venables to compose a Christmas carol,” said Birrell, who explained that the Singers seeks to commission original pieces by Canadian composers every season.
This year’s concert will also feature a first appearance by the Mead Sisters. The sisters range in age from 12 to 20 and have grown up surrounded by many styles of music. The oldest three sisters perform in a vocal trio as well play violin, viola, and cello in their string trio called The Mead String Trio.
As always, the Singers will be anchored by Juno-winning organist Ian Sadler, perhaps best known by the wider public for his work as the organist on the Chariots of Fire soundtrack. But for those tuned in to the world of organ performance, Sadler is better known as one of the world’s great organists, who has traveled widely performing a vast repertoire. Ian’s recording discography is extensive with eight solo organ CDs and over 35 choral CD recordings on current release. For his dedication to promoting the organ and Canadian music, both at home and abroad, The Royal Canadian College of Organists honoured Ian in 2007 with its highest award, “Fellow of The Royal Canadian College of Organists.”
“And did I mention our surprise guest vocalist?… Who could it be?” added Birrell.