All About the Music 

December 15, 2015

The Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent is Luke 1:39-55. Reading includes the Magnificat, or Song of Mary. This text has been set to more liturgical music settings than any other text. Sunday, December 20, Plymouth Choir and Festival Orchestra will present one of the most famous versions of the Magnificat, composed  in 1723, by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany when he composed this monumental work for five-part choir, five soloists and for its time, an unusually large orchestra consisting of three trumpets, two flutes, two oboe, strings, timpani and organ. The work includes all ten verses of the Song of Mary, (Luke 1:46-55) divided into movements for the choir and arias sung by soloists.

The Christmas Eve Candles and Carols service begins with a music prelude at 8:30 pm, Messe de Minuit pour Noel, composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1624). This delightful work was composed in 1690, and first performed for the Jesuit Church of St. Louis in Paris, where Charpentier was Master of Music. Charpentier uses popular French carol folk tunes set to traditional words of the Liturgy of the Midnight Mass. Plymouth Choir will sing excerpts from this work featuring soloists Jon Palmason, Katie Skovholt, Miriam Gnagy, Clayton Brainerd and Greg Tiffany. Clayton Brainard, who sang at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, will sing an O Holy Night solo. Plymouth Ringers will ring Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming by Joel Raney. This Christmas Eve service celebrates the first Christmas using our new French-inspired Fisk organ and I have chosen French Christmas music for the organ by Louis Daquin and Louis Vierne.—Douglas Cleveland

Topics: Advent, Church Life, Events


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