LOOK forward to “a whole new world of carols” when The Ebor Singers present the British premiere of American Christmas choral works alongside Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols on December 15.
The York choir’s ever-popular candlelit Christmas concert always features Britten’s festive favourite from 1942, this time complemented by modern compositions from the United States at the National Centre for Early Music, York, at 7.30pm.
“Benjamin Britten was particularly drawn to Christmas,” says Paul Gameson, the choir’s director, introducing Britten’s masterpiece, scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices and harp.
“Britten spent three years in North America at the beginning of the Second World War, and he composed A Ceremony of Carolsduring the long and dangerous transatlantic crossing back to Britain in 1942.”
How apt, then, to present Britten’s work alongside Christmas music from the USA. “We’ve had a lot of enjoyment putting this together”, says Paul. “As well as pieces now considered popular mainstays of the repertoire, by Lauridsen and Whitacre, we’ve been exploring sacred pieces by Jake Runestad, Nico Muhly and Stephen Paulus.
“Runestad’s writing in Sleep Little Baby, Sleephas an American folk-song quality, and Paulus’s exploration of the sonority of choir with accompaniment of oboe and harp is every bit as imaginative as Britten.
“Muhly is one of today’s most imaginative choral composers, and his Whispered And Revealed,a setting of Longfellow’s poem Snowflakes,is quite breath-taking, within three minutes magically conjuring up images of snow covering a winter landscape.
“So, we’re delighted to be giving some of this music its UK premiere. Then throw in some classic seasonal jingles and some choral ‘mash-ups’ and you have a seasonal concert quite unlike anything else you will have heard, guaranteed to bring you Christmas cheer.”
Tickets for Britten, A Ceremony of Carols, By Candlelight cost £15, concessions £12, students £5, at eborsingers.org/currentevents or on the door.