Venue: Ryerson United Church
Date: 19 & 21 December 2003

Reviewer: John Jane





Featured Performers: Lorna McGhee - flute; Heidi Krutzen - harp
Conductor: Jon Washburn

Soprano Joanna Dundas

Fine old neighbourhood door-to-door traditions are now practically obsolete -- milk delivery, diaper service and Christmas caroling. It's tough to replace that last tradition but for just a few dollars, one can still hear that soothing balm of carol-singing at this time of the year.

Choirmaster Jon Washburn used some interesting arrangements for many of the carols in this lively concert and the Chamber Choir singers delivered the Christmas story in tones of gentle and moving splendor.

The afternoon concert commenced with Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, likely the best known selection of an otherwise enigmatic programme. This was the first work Britten wrote for an all boys' choir. It is a very beautiful set of carols written in old English (even though the work was produced only sixty years ago). Some of the songs are complex, especially "This Little Babe" which has three sections of the choir singing the same lyrics a beat apart. There is also the beautifully recusant "That Yongë Child", sung with gentle expression by solo soprano, Joanna Dundas. Heidi Krutzen’s harp interlude was especially popular with the audience.





The choir’s next offering was a set of six modern carols by Ontario composer Nancy Telfer. “The Kings of the East” was a restrained lullaby with flute and harp accompaniment, which contrasted completely to the vigorous “Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day”.

After the intermission we heard four brand new carols written expressly for this programme. The first of which was a short, lilting piece by local composer Brian Tate called “Joyful be this Christmas Day”, and the following three were lulling, traditionally sounding carols.

The afternoon concluded with an exultant collection of carols by Czech composer Antonin Tucapský entitled The Time of Christémas, ending with the Medieval “Make We Merry”. For sheer musicality the choir left little to be desired

The afternoon performance reflected the singers' careful focus, musical understanding and cohesive balance. The occasion was an excellent start to the Christmas festivities. The success of this Christmas Concert should bring new members to the ranks of this already well-established choir.


© 2003, John Jane