Last Sunday, in the spirit of cooperation and goodwill commonly associated with the Christmas season, several of GC’s musical ensembles joined together for a combination concert. The Chapel Brass, Chorale, Concert Choir and Orchestra presented an hour and a half performance titled “Mystery and Messiah.” The event was well attended; in addition to the usual NEXUS and music-loving students, a large number of community members, family and friends of performers were present. It was a festive and enriching experience.
The mystery in “Mystery and Messiah” refers to the Chorale’s performance of three different settings of the same text “O magnum mysterium.” This Latin devotional text celebrated the mystery of the divine incarnate. The Chorale sang a variation of this text arranged by sixteenth century composer Tomás Luis de Victoria and two by modern composers Morten Lauridsen and Ivo Antognini. The concept of a comparison of arrangements is intriguing, but honestly, three settings in a Latin text were a bit much. There was a translation of the words printed in the program, but I found the Chorale’s other pieces “Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day” and “Carol Medley” to be much more enjoyable.
Chapel Brass played “Sketches on a French Carol” as well as accompanied the Concert Choir in “Fanfares” by twentieth-century composer Daniel Pinkham. Percussionists joined in for “Fanfares,” adding significantly to the sound. It was exciting to hear the bold noises of the instrumentalists paired with the choir. Michael Cannon, a GC graduate, was featured as a guest soloist in both “Fanfares” and “Messiah.”
The concert ended as the Orchestra played selections from “Messiah” along with the Concert Choir. This string-and-wind ensemble played the “Overture” alone and then joined with the choir on several chorus such as “And the Glory of the Lord,” “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and “Hallelujah.” Several soloists performed in between the choruses, including Meredith Scalos, Shakir Mackey, Hannah Prassel, Sarah Smith, Nikita Taggart and Brianna Gibson. Glenna Metcalf, another Georgetown alum, accompanied on the organ and was featured in her “Pifa” solo. Metcalf’s performance was outstanding as she fearlessly attacked fast-tempoed pieces, leading the choir and blending with the Orchestra. This was the Orchestra’s second year of existence and also the second time participating in the annual “Messiah” performance, but several of the students were playing different parts than the year before. Overall, I can honestly say that the Orchestra did well for such a small and new group.
The “Mystery and Messiah” concert was a successful collaboration between musicians and directors on campus that allowed for an afternoon of beautiful music. The selections, in line with the Christmas season, were overwhelmingly spiritual in nature and the performance was almost a time of worship, or at least of devotion. When 4:30p.m. rolled around, the audience was on its feet and the choir was belting “Hallelujah” to the sounds of the Orchestra. It was an inspiring way to usher in the first Sunday of Advent.