It’s beginning to look a lot like the yuletide season as Pro Coro Chamber Choir puts last-minute touches on their annual winter concert.
Conducted by Richard Sparks, this year’s traditional A Pro Coro Christmas performed tomorrow afternoon at Winspear Centre is generating quite a buzz around music circles.
The 24 mixed voices are singing the world premiere of Calgary-based composer Allan Bevan’s Fowre Thowsond Wynters, a 30-minute work for orchestra, choir and soloists. Pro Coro first commissioned Bevan to compose Nou Goth Sonne Under Wode, which debuted about three years ago.
“He is a humble church musician. But inside he is a gifted composer and he seems to have an affinity for the voice,” says Pro Coro’s associate conductor Trent Worthington.
The St. Albert resident adds that this second commission, based loosely on ancient medieval texts of Old English, borrows from early Hebrew prophecies of Isaiah foretelling the coming of a saviour, and from Christina Rossetti’s mid-19th century poetry.
Bevan has scored this major work for strings, harp, tympani, percussion and organ. Twenty Edmonton Symphony Orchestra musicians will accompany alongside Jeremy Spurgeon playing the Davis organ.
“Allan explores all the possibilities for instruments. He’s specifically stated it must be performed with pipe organ. He’s considered the power of the organ and it has huge potential to draw out a wide range of emotion when it’s paired with percussion or the more subtle string and harp.”
As well, soprano Jolaine Kerley is the composition’s anointed soloist with the venerable Tim Andersen narrating the story.
The rest of the program is layered with non-commercial Christmas carols and choral pieces. “They’re all eclectic. Some are gorgeous. Some are challenging. Some are rhythmically upbeat.”
From the Austrian choral tradition comes Still, Still, Still paired with two David Wilcox works, the catchy Ding Dong Merrily on High and Quel est cette odeur agreeable?
The choir is also singing a setting of Bevan’s Huron Carol arranged for a cappella choir. “It’s very calm. It has a lot of dynamic movement within with rich, smooth harmonies.”
Sharing the stage with Worthington are four other St. Albert ambassadors including sopranos Carol Kube and Catherine Kubash, and altos Denise Littman and Ava Leigh Crockett.
“This is a chance to hear a fabulous new composition for the first time. It’s one of those opportunities you never get again. It’s the only time it will be the first time. In that sense, the audience is truly part of the performance.”
A Pro Coro Christmas
Sunday, Dec. 13 at 2 p.m.
4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Tickets: $25-$49. Call 780-428-1414 or visit www.winspear.com