Celebrating the Christmas Season with J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Latin American Villancicos and American Gospel Music
At 4 pm on December 19, the national award-winning music organization Crescendo presents its special livestreamed celebration of the season—Christmas Music in Three Cultures—with the Crescendo Chorus, soloists and a Period Instrument ensemble.
The program’s centerpiece will be portions of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with its message of hope, the intricacy and drama of its storytelling and the beauty of its music. Contrasting with Bach’s work are Villancicos, music of the South American Colonial Baroque in South America by composers Juan de Araujo and Matias Durango, and excerpts of Navidad Nuestro (Our Christmas) by the renowned Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez. Representing a genre and style Crescendo is beginning to explore are compositions by Black composers based on Spiritual and Gospel Music. The chorus and soloists will perform the distinguished composer Nathaniel Dett’s masterful motet, Chariot Jubilee that premiered in 1921.
The concert’s prestigious roster of soloists is bi-continental: Sopranos Salomé (Chapel Hill, NC) and Malina Rauschenfels (Cleveland, Ohio), Countertenor Nicholas Tamagna (Oldenburg, Germany), Tenors Pablo Wiley Bustos (Rochester, NY), Ignacio Ugarte (Barcelona, Spain) and Elliott Page (New York, NY) and Baritones Jonathan Zaens (Berlin, Germany), Jermaine Woodward Jr. (Hartford, CT) and José Sacin (Washington, DC).
How did this unique musical event come about? Early in 2020, Crescendo’s founder and director, Christine Gevert, realized that in order for the organization to continue performing during the “time of covid,” she needed a way to bring its music to its audiences virtually in ways that allowed the great qualities of the music to come through.
She explored ways to record and produce videos and livestreams. For the last half year, a group of Crescendo’s amateur and professional singers, soloists and period instrument performers remotely recorded more than forty Renaissance motets and Baroque choruses. These pieces were streamed live as part of the online services for its home base and concert venue, Trinity Church in Lakeville, CT. Parishioners loved the music and, as a result, Ms. Gevert found the way to reach Crescendo’s home community and even audience members from other parts of the US, Latin America and Europe with music of extremely high quality acoustic.
To enhance one’s experience of the concert’s music, leading up to the concert day there are events broadcasting on Crescendo’s website on alternate Wednesdays and Fridays. A sample include prominent instrumentalists who, in videos, describe their unique instruments, such as the charango, the Baroque trumpet, and the Spanish guitar, and a soloist recounting the history of Gospel Music and aspects of performance practice. And, just preceding the December 19 concert, Christine Gevert will talk with the renowned Bach scholar Alejandro Reyes van Eweyk about Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. He is based in Santiago, Chile.
Entrance to the events leading up to the concert can be found easily on Crescendo’s website. The links for the concert and all the events will be available after their broadcast dates so that our audiences will not miss them.
There are no tickets for these events. However, donations for Crescendo’s work and the professional musicians who work remotely for the organization will be welcome. Go to worldclassmusic.org/donate or send a check to P.O. Box 245, Lakeville, CT 06039.