Viva la Musica's
mission is to inspire, educate, and
entertain with passionate, quality
performances of noteworthy music from
diverse cultures and eras in a way that
promotes peace and mutual respect among
all the peoples we touch.
Upcoming Holiday Concerts
Sunday December 8, 2013, 4 pm, pre-concert talk 3:30 pm. SOLD OUT!
Sunday December 15, 2013, 4 pm, pre-concert talk 3:30 pm. Tickets still available.
St Peters Church 178 Clinton Street, Redwood City, CA 94062 [MAP]
INVITATION TO OUR CONCERTS
The program for our 2013 holiday concerts, Sweet Rejoicing, is a panoply of styles and flavors. It includes a large orchestra, choir, and soloists, and a variety of pieces both accompanied and unaccompanied, familiar and unfamiliar, small-and-intimate and large-and-declamatory, serious and humorous, classical and contemporary. It is a rich, full program of remarkably accessible music.
The first half of the program moves from the Renaissance, through the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. The intimate and perennially favorite Renaissance a capella O magnum mysterium opens the program and we will sing it "in the round" and by candllgiht to set a mood of wonder.
J.S. Bach’s Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage! the opening of one of Bach's magni opI, the Christmas Oratorio, is an overture-like piece in a lilting triple meter, ABA form, the outer two sections buoyant, dancelike, and joyful, with trumpets and drums punctuating the choir, in bubbling Baroque perpetual motion. Seamless phrasing carries the listener along. Sung in German, the text captures our concert theme:
Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage, Celebrate, rejoice, rise up, praise these days,
Rühmet, was heute der Höchste getan! glorify what the Highest has done today!
Lasset das Zagen, verbannet die Klage, Abandon despair, banish laments,
Stimmet voll Jauchzen und Fröhlichkeit an! sound forth full of delight and happiness!
Dienet dem Höchsten mit herrlichen Chören, Serve the Highest with glorious choruses,
Laßt uns den Namen des Herrschers verehren! let us honor the name of the Supreme Ruler!
Johann Christian Bach, one of the composer sons of big J.S., is known as “The English Bach” because he lived in London. When the Mozarts (Papa Leopold and the children, young Wolfgang and Nannerl) were on tour there, they visited J.C. and he played piano duets with the 6 year-old Wolfie sitting on his lap. J.C. has written an enchanting Magnificat, concise and immediately comprehensible, in early Classical style, with clear phraseology and uncluttered textures. The choir sings in all five movements (after some brief vocal solos) and the orchestration is for strings, oboes, and trumpets. The text is the traditional Latin Magnificat, honroing the Virgin Mary.
We close the first half of our program with the immortal Beethoven. The Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80, or Choral Fantasy, as it is popularly known, was first performed at an "Akademie" on 22 December 1808. This was a benefit concert that Beethoven himself sponsored to promote his new music. It’s meaty program included the premières of the Fifth and Sixth symphonies as well as a performance of portion of the C major Mass (Viva has performed this work in its entirety). To conclude this impressive concert, Beethoven wanted a “brilliant Finale.” And did he ever write one! The Choral Fantasy is really a piano concerto with virtuoso piano passages dominating throughout. The music is Romantic in style, wearing it’s heart on its sleeve: singable melodies, stirring rhythms, the orchestra in gloriously symphonic stature, and, in the last few minutes, the choir enters, after the SSA and TTB soloists, in proud, uplifting chordal declamation. The poetry speaks to “A choir of spirits…. Peace and joy…. Light, bliss, beautiful souls… love and strength, and God’s grace bestowed upon Man”––seasonally appropriate sentiments. Beethoven thought the poetry a bit cheesy in quality but he liked its meaning and he surely captured this in the language of his music. The Fantasy is rather like Beethoven Ninth Lite, not even half as long, but rousing and majestic, and filled with universally uplifting qualities deisgined to reach all mankind.
After Becky Snedigar’s scrumptuous homemade goodies will have enhanced your holiday cheer during intermission, we open the seconf half of the program in lighter and contemporary vein with Gwyneth Walker’s delightful set of three pieces, Rejoice!: musical settings of two carols and one Christina Rossetti poem, sensitively written for choir and lusciously scored for a colorful orchestra. Gwyneth lives on a cow farm in Vermont and her cows make an appearance in the last piece! I’ve loved this set for several years and it still has magic for me.
John Rutter’s fable, Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, is an enchanting, touching parable, sprinkled with Rutter’s own dry humor (he wrote the narration himself). We’ll truncate the narration a tad, but you might like to know that Heinrich and Sigismund sing in the choir together and that Heinrich is a bit under the gun, having been told to write a new carol for the bishop's annula visit, but lacking inspiration, even as the deadline looms. To amke matters worse, for the bishops' visit, Sigismund has been banned from the choir, because of his limited singin abilities. A baleful Heinrich adn Sigismund are walkimg home from choir practice when Sigismund alerts Heinrich: the angels, they hear, are singing In Dulci Jubilo. Heinrichs writes down the carol just in time for the bishops' visit. There’s something special about Sigismund: he’s a good loyal friend and…he’s a donkey. A narrator will tell the story, and the choir sings and orchestra plays. This charming piece is for the child in all of us.
The audience will be invited to join in singing a set of carols. This is followed by a beautiful new Hannukah piece, Unending Flame, by Paul Carey, on original poetry. It’s part soulful (with a clarinet solo) and part joyful dance, and both aspects have an irresistble Klezmer feel.
We close with Craig Bohmler’s rousing Joy to All the World, a set of carols from around the wolrd, mostly familiar, in a luscious orchstral-choral setting, with lots of aural delight and heart-felt seasonal appeal.
We look forward to welcoming you to our concerts.
Shulamit Hoffmann, Artistic Director
(Sorry, Firefox will not play this video at this time. Other bowsers work fine.)
San Mateo County 2013 Diversity Celebration Awards Shulamit Hoffmann, Foster City Honoree
The Circle of Diversity Awards recognize individuals making an impact in the community from a range of sectors including business, acaedemic, government, and nonprofit. The awards are given for promoting diversity. Shulamit is shown with Foster City Mayor Pam Frisella and Councilman Steve Okamoto at the Award Ceremony held Wednesday, October 30, 2013, at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City. Viva patron Peggy O'Neill and Vivans were in the audience to celebrate the honor.
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