After we got through the horrendous traffic on the fog bound Bay Bridge, we had quite a serene evening in the sold-out Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. No handicrafts on the front row, lots of smiling members-present and past- of our Board of Trustees, and lots of people who seem now to be making this the venue of choice for their Christmas concert - even if they don't live in the East Bay.
To continue our Christmas countdown, we report on Adam's plans. Usually he goes back to Tecumseh, Oklahoma for New Year's when the tradition is to fire off a rifle to celebrate ( "because it's Oklahoma" he says - and it's an image worth conjuring up!).This year for the first time he is going back to Tecumseh on the 24th to be with his family - small, but with lots of animals ( "because it's Oklahoma") and he thinks that perhaps the celebratory shot might be fired on Christmas this time. You've no idea how many famous people come from Oklahoma ( like Hoda, born 24 miles from Adam) -you should ask him some time! "Adam Ward's Oklahoma" - now THERE might be a fun TV series....
We certainly couldn't have gotten a nicer review for the Christmas concert than this one from the San Jose Mercury News after Stanford:
Posted: 12/10/2010 09:23:10 AM PST
Updated: 12/10/2010 10:53:56 AM PST
Well, I've had my annual de-stresser: Chanticleer
performed its new Christmas program Thursday at
Stanford Memorial Church, filling the gilded space
with its otherworldly sounds. How the male chorus
maintains this level of seamless refinement on a
year-to-year basis is a mystery; what's not is that my
blood pressure drops whenever I check in with the
group for the holidays.
"A Chanticleer Christmas," which is touring the Bay
Area through Dec. 23, begins with plainsong for
Christmas morning. Memorial Church was darkened
as half the group -- six singers -- processioned
down the aisle to meet the other half in front of the
altar. Each singer held a candle; real wax, real
flames, the whole idea of bringing light to darkness.
Then there was "Ave Maria virgo serena" ("Hail Mary,
full of grace") in a contrapuntal setting by Jean
Mouton, the French Renaissance composer. The
individual voices -- circling, crisscrossing -- were
so clear as to be tactile; you practically could trace
them with your fingers.
And so it went. With the house lights up, there was
Thomas Tallis's "O nata lux," his 16th-century motet
about the light of the redeemer. The composer's
polyphony is streamlined; Chanticleer's sound was
lush. On "Ecce, quod natura," the sound was more
than that -- luscious, bringing pop communicability
to a 14th-century carol from England. A hit single
via download, maybe?
The program, presented by Stanford Lively Arts, also
that liturgical settings don't have to be centuries old
to be effective, or beautiful. "There is no rose of
such virtue" -- the first of "Two Medieval Lyrics" set
by Steven Sametz for Chanticleer in 1995 -- featured
spectral harmonies in subtle oscillation behind the
fresh-voiced soloist, alto Adam Ward.
The world premiere of "The Word Became Flesh," by
Swedish composer Jan Sandstrom, introduced
harmonies as vivid and varied as stained glass --
and so many overtones that there was a buzzing as
the ensemble sang "and the Word was God." I'm also
almost happy to report that there were several off-
pitch notes in the upper voices during this piece;
finding out that Chanticleer isn't perfect was
something of a relief.
In the concert's second half, the San Francisco-
based chorus -- whose music director, Matthew
Oltman, was seated in the crowd, cheering the
group on -- performed "Allons, gai bergeres" ("Let
us go gaily, shepherdesses"). A 16th-century French
madrigal by Guillaume Costeley, it was pure whisked
"The Boar's Head Carol," which featured a number of
the Grammy-winning ensemble's lower voices,
including the infallible bass Eric Allatore, was a
rouser from 19th-century England, almost
boisterous in this arrangement by Elizabeth Poston.
Gustav Holst's "In the Bleak Midwinter," setting a
poem by Christina Rossetti, was all solace and
Finally, Chanticleer sang a "Christmas Spiritual
Medley" from the African-American church, arranged
by Joseph Jennings, the group's music director
emeritus. "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow." "Sweet
Little Jesus Boy." "What Month Was Jesus Born In."
Here the group cut loose: precision soul.