Few things look as spectacular as England’s majestic cathedrals, and they sound as magnificent as they look. Over the centuries, a tradition of glorious choral music arose to fill those resonant spaces.
This holiday season, immerse yourself in that wondrous sound with An English Cathedral Christmas with LancasterChorale.
Last December, LancasterChorale Artistic Director Stephen Caracciolo led the choir and organist Kevin Jones in An English Cathedral Christmas at First Congregational Church in Downtown Columbus. This year, Classical 101 brings that performance to you, at a time when choirs aren’t performing, and the coronavirus pandemic is forcing many to enjoy holiday entertainment at home.
Classical 101’s An English Cathedral Christmas with LancasterChorale features choral masterworks in the English tradition by British and American composers. Caracciolo says the program celebrates the sheer beauty of this music.
“The sweet, unpretentious singing of a cathedral choir is something that appeals to me. The music is so beautiful and so charming and compelling in many ways, too,” said Caracciolo. “So much of it is tender and so unpretentious.”
English composer Benjamin Britten’s hauntingly beautiful Hymn to the Virgin joins contemporary Welsh composer Paul Mealor’s delicate A Spotless Rose and the magical Wellcome, all Wonders by contemporary English composer Jonathan Dove.
Also on the program are the world premiere of American composer William Bradley Roberts’ O magnum mysterium (O Great Mystery) and Caracciolo’s choral arrangement of the traditional Christmas carol People, Look East and selections from his Evening Service in A.
And enjoy a sing along with beloved Christmas carols in magnificent arrangements by the late Sir David Willcocks. As music director of King’s College Choir of Cambridge University, Willcocks created these now famous Christmas carol arrangements for King’s College Choir’s Christmas Eve broadcasts of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, for decades a beloved holiday tradition on both sides of the Atlantic.
“It’s really through the experience of the Nine Lessons and Carols (broadcasts) that the Anglican tradition of choral singing has been so solidly rooted in the United States,” said Caracciolo. “Now we are the recipients of this terrific repertoire.”
Join me for An English Cathedral Christmas with LanasterChorale Friday, Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. and Christmas Day at 10 a.m. on Classical 101, streaming at wosu.org/classical101 and via the free WOSU Public Media mobile app.