The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra A Traditional Christmas

Dates and Venues
December 8, 9 & 10 at 7:30pm; December 9 at 4pm | St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church, Vancouver
December 13 at 7:30pm | South Delta Baptist Church
December 14 at 4pm & 7:30pm | Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver
December 15 at 4pm & 7:30pm | Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver
December 16 at 4pm & 7:30pm | Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey
December 17 at 4pm & 7:30pm | Michael J Fox Theatre, Burnaby

Conductor William Rowson Featured performers EnChor and the UBC Opera Ensemble Host Christopher Gaze

Reviewer John Jane

‘Tis the season for Christmas concerts, and what better place to enjoy one of the first of a dozen Traditional Christmas concerts given by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra than at the beautiful Saint Andrew’s-Wesley Church, located at the corner of Nelson and Burrard. With its high vaulted nave and deep transepts, the Island granite church offers excellent acoustics.

Maestro William Rowson led the orchestra and Christopher Gaze, who has been hosting these concerts now for twenty-five years, once again assumed the duties of compère. The UBC Opera Ensemble Choir and the EnChor Choir added their voices to this special evening.

The program began with a medley of instantly recognizable seasonal tunes like “Deck the Halls” and continued with a selection of Christmas music – both spiritual and secular.

The repertoire included: excerpts from Handel’s Messiah: No.9 O thou that tallest, No.18 Rejoice and No. 44 Hallelujah Chorus; excerpts from Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel & Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Overture.

Members of both choirs, positioned between the orchestra and the audience combined with exalted interpretations of early carols such as Schubert’s Ave Maria (sung in Latin) and Adolphe Adam’s O Holy Night. Needless to say, people who attend Christmas concerts welcome the opportunity to join the musicians and choristers in singing along with popular songs associated with the season. Maestro Rowson didn’t disappoint, inviting the audience to supplement their collective voices to “Angels we have heard on high” and “Silent Night.”

The music was interspersed with Christopher Gaze’s inimitable style of story-telling with some delightful Christmas themed anecdotes, short stories and selected readings from Dylan Thomas’s A Child's Christmas in Wales and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Gaze is from a theatrical background and enjoys hamming it up with the musicians. On “Sleigh Bells” he took over on the clapper to replicate the sound of a whip-crack.

The evening performance ended on a reflective note with Christopher Gaze bestowing the Irish Blessing on the audience. Followed by the orchestra and choir’s traditional “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

© 2017 John Jane