Music Preview: CHRISTMAS CHORAL CONCERTS (Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall)

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by Tony Frankel on November 22, 2019

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


With the indefatigable Energizer Bunny of conducting, Grant Gershon, at the helm, Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) can easily be labeled one of the best choirs on earth, and you have a chance to see four separate holiday programs this year at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Naturally, you can attend on Saturday, December 21 at 8:00 and see their Handel’s Messiah, which is so glorious it could raise the dead (soloists this year are soprano April Amante, mezzo-soprano Callista Hoffman-Campbell, tenor Todd Strange, and bass Chung Uk Lee). Or you can dust off your pipes and participate in the extremely popular Messiah Sing-Along — with soloists and orchestra onstage, you’re the chorus; this guaranteed sell-out will take place on Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30, which means you have no excuses about holiday parties and other competing shows to miss this wildly popular affair.

And don’t miss 62 singers and instrumental ensemble in a program featuring Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium on Sunday December 15 at 7:00. This exquisitely gorgeous work, premiered by LAMC 25 years ago, is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas. It will be performed alongside Victoria’s 16th-century setting of the same text, and other fantastic versions by Jennifer Higdon and César Alejandro Carrillo. Also on the program is the west coast premiere of The Faire Starre by Nico Muhly, a nativity cantata in three parts: Parts I and III contain nativity poems by Richard Crashaw and Thomas Traherne, framing the longer central section set to a lullaby compiled by John of Grimestone in 1372. You’ll also hear works by Dale Trumbore, Matthew Brown and more.

But you simply can’t miss LAMC detonate nuggets of noel gold at its stocking stuffer of a concert named Festival of Carols — so popular that there are two performances this year: Saturdays, December 7 at 8:00 and December 14 at 2:00, the latter being an especially uncluttered time slot perfectly situated between your shopping and that snappy seasonal shindig.

The 100-member chorale will illustrate their vocal brilliance performing beloved seasonal carols and favorites. If you think you’ve heard “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” enough to last a lifetime, let these perfectly pristine vocalists have you believe you are hearing them for the first time. And then there’s the venue’s organ, powerful enough to cause an avalanche at the North Pole. And straight out of Santa’s sled comes the best gift of all: Artist-in-Residence Eric Whitacre will conduct. Expect even more than traditional favorites and new arrangements, as this year’s concerts include the world premiere of Whitacre’s The Gift of the Magi, set to O. Henry’s bittersweet tale of love and generosity.

Also featured is another Whitacre work, the heart-piercing “Lux Aurumque,” and newer awesome arrangements of some holiday favorites. And if that ain’t enough, how about a few sing-alongs? Given that Whitacre is as popular as Santa or even… (well, I’m not saying that name; look at the trouble it got John Lennon into), the concerts are selling out fast.

photos by Jamie Pham and Lee Salem

Los Angeles Master Chorale
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue at First Street
for tickets, call 213.972.7282 or visit LAMC

Festival of Carols
Eric Whitacre, conductor
Saturdays, December 7 at 8:00;
December 14 at 2:00

O Magnum Mysterium
Grant Gershon, conductor
Sunday, December 15, 2017 at 7:00

39th Annual Messiah Sing-Along
Grant Gershon, conductor
Wednesday, December 18 at 7:30

Handel’s Messiah
Grant Gershon, conductor
Saturday, December 21, 2017 at 8:00

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