Dear Singers and Musicians:
Despite the recent warm days, we know that fall is coming, and Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas aren’t far behind, so that means that
THE CANTATA IS COMING! THE CANTATA IS COMING!
Performance Date: 6 December 2015 (7:00 PM, St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, Hornell)
Music Pickup, Listen Through, and First Rehearsal: 18 October 2015, United Presbyterian Church, Hornell
Rehearsal Times: 6:30-8:30 PM Sunday, beginning October 18th
Please participate in this year’s Community Christmas Cantata, and please spread the word. Our email list has some invalid addresses, and we want to make sure that we reach everyone who sang with us last year and as many other singers as possible. Please post the attached announcement in your church, at work, or any other visible place. Make as many copies as you need. We’re not sending a letter to area churches this year. Instead, we’re relying on you to publicize the Cantata by posting the announcement and placing the information in your bulletins and/or newsletters.
Here are the rehearsal details. Our first meeting is Sunday, 18 October. You can purchase scores starting at 5:30 PM. We will have the music playing, and there will be a regular rehearsal, 6:30-8:30 with our very own worry-early music director, Mark Smith. Music pick-up and rehearsals will be at The United Presbyterian Church, 150 Main Street in Hornell (use the Church Street entrance). All subsequent rehearsals (except for the one on Saturday, 6 December) will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, also at The United Presbyterian Church.
The cost of the music is $15. The music price includes a little extra to pay for orchestration and expenses, such as shipping costs.
Mark Smith “auditioned” many Christmas cantatas before selecting One Silent Night by Pepper Choplin, a well-know composer of sacred choral music. “One Silent Night long ago, a birth story began that forever changed the world. Lying in a crude manger was a newborn babe, who would become the source of our Christian faith and our abiding hope. Using the power and simplicity of the event itself, composer and creator Pepper Choplin presents each of the familiar elements of that story through ballad-like recitatives of scripture, surrounded by anthems ranging from outbursts of unbridled joy to moving moments of introspection and gentleness. Weaving familiar carols and songs throughout original music, this timeless tale emerges in a deeply moving presentation that will lift one’s faith and deepen one’s understanding of the profound significance of that One Silent Night.” (The quoted section is from the JW Pepper Web site.)
Along with this cantata we will fill out our program with two additional contemporary pieces: When the Song of the Angels is Stilled. Again quoting from the JW Pepper Web site: When the Song of the Angels is Stilled is “A rhythmically vital setting of Howard Thurman’s magnificent poem about the true “work of Christmas.” Informed by South African part-writing and the rhythmic impulse of African-American spirituals, this piece lends a powerful relevance to Christmas which extends far beyond Epiphany.”
Glory, Hallelujah to the Newborn King. JW Pepper’s Web site describes this as follows: “Pull out all of the stops with this exuberant original a cappella Christmas spiritual – it will be the sure-fire hit of your concert! Women and men are featured separately, answered by the full choir, and then a creative bridge builds to a dramatic ending! Highly recommended!”
And yes, we will also perform the “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah.” (Dig out your copy, if you have one!)
If you’re not sure about participating in this year’s Cantata, let me make some points that might help you decide to make the commitment. First, our chorus is open to inexperienced singers. We don’t have auditions. All we ask is that you are serious about your participation by attending rehearsals and by practicing a little bit on your own. Mark is not only a wonderful director; he is a great choral teacher. Second, this is a short commitment – eight weeks. I sing in my church choir, in the Cantata chorus, and in Orpheus. I love to sing in choral groups, but that wasn’t always the case. I started singing as an adult when Jackie Walker (the first Cantata director) asked me to commit to eight weeks of singing in the Cantata. That got me hooked, and maybe you’ll get hooked too. Even if you don’t, it’s just eight weeks, with one rehearsal a week. Third, we don’t have age limits. If you’re a senior, and you’re worried about standing on risers for the performance, we can make sure that you stand on the floor, or that you sit. If you’re a young person, we welcome you as long as you are a serious, full participant. Rehearsals are both fun and hard work (the two really can be compatible!). Discipline is required, because Mark has a lot of ground to cover each time we meet. Fourth, this is an opportunity to join with friends and strangers (who won’t be strangers after you sing with them) to present a gift to the community, a very precious gift at a time when the true meaning of Christmas is needed more than ever. Fifth (and I’ll stop with five, even though I could keep going), we have an amazing director – Mark Smith – who really makes the hard work of rehearsing a joy and the highlight of the week for many of us.
Join Us – Please!
Please make the commitment to attend all of the rehearsals. We know that jobs, travel, illness, and other events in your life may force you to miss one or two rehearsals. However, please remember that the morale of the group and the enjoyment of the process are directly linked to optimum attendance. Our performance in St. Ann’s is the highlight and culmination of our efforts, but the fellowship and enjoyment of participating in the cantata is rooted in the rehearsals. So please give this your most serious consideration.
On behalf of the Hornell Community Choir, best wishes! We look forward to having you singing with us this year!