For your Christmas listening pleasure….

One of the great pleasures of my association (thus far) with The Bach Choir was the opportunity to sing in an episode of Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, in December of 2007.  Several of us from the choir spent time rehearsing with the cast and crew, and we cheerfully joined our friends and colleagues in the Central Moravian Church Choir for several selections.  Two days before Christmas Eve is usually a trying time for church musicians, and I must confess that I heavily felt the stress of the season.  I wasn’t sure if joining in a radio performance for 4 million listeners would necessarily help with the malaise, but every one of my expectations for the experience was exceeded, shattered, in fact.  It would be hard to overstate the professionalism of the cast and crew – the aura of sheer competence and skill that goes into such a live radio broadcast – but to describe the warmth and kindness that was extended to the hometown performers would strain credulity.  My favorite aspect of this generosity of spirit and calm kindness was how Garrison would cue Greg Funfgeld to start the next musical number.  Rather than point or wink, Garrison would quietly walk over, and gently place his hand on Greg’s shoulder.  We didn’t sing too much Bach at the performance (aside from Break forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light from the Christmas Oratorio), but we did sing Hugo Distler’s haunting setting of Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen, and Norman Luboff’s lovely Still, Still, Still. There was much holiday mirth as we joined forces with Guy’s All-Star Festivus Five for a Powdermilk Biscuit Gloria in Excelcis Deo, and a number of other tunes.   The performance introduced The Choir to A Prairie Home Companion’s large audience, and The Choir to an example of unbelievable grace under pressure that I doubt any of us will soon forget.  I assiduously avoid “magic” as a descriptor, but, as often is the case with The Choir, this was one absolutely magical evening.  Follow this link to the show’s webpage to stream the performance, and have a very Merry Christmas.  I’ll be signing off from the blog until the New Year, when I’ll return with a discussion of the exciting music for January’s Bach at Noon (the second cantata from the Christmas Oratorio – including Bach’s evocative orchestral pastorale, as well as a performance of the Canonic Variations on Von Himmel Hoch, as performed by our stellar Assistant Conductor and Organist, Tom Goeman).  Thanks to everyone who visited in the nascent days of the blog – much more to come!

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