Ekoos Vocal Ensemble is pleased to present an Advent Concert of music which we hope will help to calm your racing minds and fill your hearts with the beautiful mystery of this season. The concerts take place on two nights, December 7 and 8 in Metchosin and Sooke.
As with past programs, we like to perform some music which will likely be new to most audience members. That will be balanced by more familiar works chosen by choir members as particularly evocative of the Christmas story and its symbols.
Conductor Peter Dent offers the following notes about the program: “For the past three Christmas seasons, I have built our concerts around a Christmas or Advent text showcasing how composers throughout the ages have approached the same text. This year, EKOOS is taking a different approach.
“The central work we are presenting is Nine Advent Motets Op 176’ by the late 19th century German composer, Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901). Composed in 1893, the motets were designed for use on the four Sundays of Advent as Introits, Graduals, or Offertories.
“Varied in tempo and tonal colour, they are some of finest late Romantic a cappella music and, in my opinion, should be performed more often. Rheinberger’s compositions are compared favourably with both Bruckner and Brahms.
“These motets were Rheinberger’s last of this genre. King Ludwig II of Bavaria appointed Rheinberger Court Conductor for church music in 1877. The position, once held by Orlando di Lasso, allowed the composer to direct 40 excellent singers at All Saints church in Munich. He was also Professor of Music at the Royal College, Rheinberger, holding these dual positions until 1894 when he relinquished the Court Conductor position due to declining health.
“Our performance will also include three compositions from the 20th century. They are a setting of the Jubilate Deo by the Czech composer Vit Kment; Salve Regina, a composition of the still living German composer Rolf Lukowsky; and the American Morten Lauridsen’s, O Magnum Mysterium, which we performed three years ago. Although based in Los Angeles, Lauridsen is also a ‘local’ since he spends significant time in his home in the San Juan Islands just south of us.”
The program will conclude with some pieces chosen by choir members from past repertoire. Many celebrate the choir’s love of early music, and some are traditional tunes which will send the audience off humming well-loved melodies and getting into the spirit of the season.
These include the intricately lilting Lullaby My Sweet Little Baby by Byrd, and two traditional tunes, O Little One Sweet and In Dulci Jubilo, both arranged by J.S. Bach. The women’s voices will solo in Duo Seraphim by Vittoria and Ding Dong Merrily on High, a traditional French song arranged by David Willcocks.
And, continuing to mix the old with the new, we’ll sing the intriguing and mysterious Out of Your Sleep by Richard Rodney Bennett (1936–2012), and the traditional English tune, The Holly and the Ivy, in settings by Poston, Stauff, Shaw, and our own Peter Dent.
We hope you will join us for this special musical event. The concert in Sooke is on Sunday afternoon, December 8 at 2:30 p.m., at the Holy Trinity Church, 1962 Murray Road, followed by coffee, tea and goodies. On Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m., at Old Saint Mary’s Church, 4354 Metchosin Road. Tickets are $12, available at the door.