Whidbey Chamber Singers launch season with ‘Laud to the Nativity’ in Langley

Posted in Feature, Music

The Whidbey Chamber Singers launch their 2012/13 season with a holiday program at Langley United Methodist Church at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. (Jim Carroll photos, jshuimages.com)

Whidbey Life Magazine editor

Go to Langley and listen to what the holiday angels might sound like.

The Whidbey Chamber Singers kick off their inaugural season with some extraordinary music at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 in the Sanctuary of the Langley United Methodist Church led by musical director Robert Prosch. The singers will welcome the Chancel Choir of Langley United Methodist Church, as well as guest singers Linda Mattos and Cheryl Veblen, to create a combined chorus, as well as inviting the talents of special guests, oboist Frances Kenney and violinist Gloria Ferry-Brennan and cellists Susan Alexander and James Hinkley.

On the program Sunday will be the featured work of Ottorino Respighi’s “Laud to the Nativity,” which singer Sheila Weidendorf said is a piece that explores musical forms that come from the medieval church songs.

“Respighi was composing at the turn of the 20th century, but had a habit of referencing older musical forms,” Weidendorf said.

“In ‘Laud’ we harken back to both madrigals and plainchant, with a text by 13th century Franciscan poet Jacopone di Todi. This work has challenged the choir in a time when we are, indeed, expanding both our performing purview and our musical chops!”

The combined chorus will also sing “Babe of Bethlehem” by contemporary composer Abby Betinis, whom Wiedendorf said is a Composer-in-Residence at the Schubert Club in Minnesota. “This piece explores melody in motion; traveling through a wide range of tonal effects,” she said.

Also on the program is a piece by another up-and-coming choral composer, Arva Gjeilo, a native of Norway and a professional pianist and composer in the United States, Weidendorf said.

“We are singing his ‘O Magnum Mysterium,’ an almost symphonic setting of the ancient text, accompanied by a very spare rendering of violin, played by Gloria Ferry-Brennan, and cello, played by Susan Alexander. This piece is both ethereal and lush at the same time,” she added.

Finally, the singers will join in for everyone’s holiday favorite “Gloria” by Joseph Haydn.

Tickets are $15 sdults, $10 for seniors/military, and $5 for youths and can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com.

Visit whidbeychambersingers.org for more info.


Pictured at top, Robert Prosch conducts the Whidbey Chamber Singers.


Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several wins in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.

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