Falmouth Chorale Presents Carols and Lullabies

December 9th and 10th
The Falmouth Chorale in concert (Molly Johnson photo)

The Falmouth Chorale, led by Artistic Director John Yankee, presents a holiday concert, Carols & Lullabies on Saturday, December 9 at 4 pm and Sunday, December 10 at 3 pm.  A special family-friendly, abbreviated version will be performed on Saturday, December 9 at 1 pm.  The concert includes selections performed by Falmouth Chorale and Chamber Singers, Cape Youth Chorale, guest instrumentalists and audience sing-alongs.  All performances are held at First Congregational Church, 68 Main Street in Falmouth.

Carols & Lullabies takes its name from American composer Conrad Susa’s work Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest, the centerpiece of the concert’s first half.  Susa’s collection is preceded by a cappella selections performed by Falmouth Chorale Chamber Singers to set the holiday mood. The full Chorale processes into the hall singing, with the audience, “O Sanctissima.”

Carols and Lullabies originated as a suggestion from Philip Brunelle, artistic director of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (which eventually commissioned the work and premiered it in 1992).  He suggested that Susa compose a companion to Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols.  At the time, Susa served as composer in residence for Old Globe Theater in San Diego.

After a few years of wrestling with the idea, a friend of Susa’s shared a group of traditional Spanish carols that he had sung as a child in Arizona.  Consistent with his experience as a composer of operas and music for theater, Susa ordered the songs to form a narrative.  He composed connective music, added guitar and marimba and re-conceived the carols — all with the image in mind, in his words, “of a Southwestern piñata party for the new baby”.

Artistic Director John Yankee points out that the musicians and instruments required to perform Carols and Lullabies, guitar, marimba and harp (the latter covered by Stephanie Weaver on piano), are also incorporated in other works in the program.  This scenario creates some arrangement challenges for Yankee, while inspiring him to color this whole holiday musical experience with unique sounds and textures.

Guitarist Joseph Scott has performed on guitar, lute, and in vocal ensembles in a wide range of styles since he was a teenager. His most recent performances include solo guitar recitals at Worcester State College and the Church of the Messiah summer concert series. Scott has performed with Cape Cod Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Boston University Opera, and Colorado String Quartet. He serves on the faculties of Worcester State College and Cape Conservatory. 

Percussionist Tim Maxwell teaches at Apponequet Regional High School and offers private instruction in percussion and piano. He plays in theatre pit orchestras throughout the region, and with Southeast Philharmonic Orchestra, Snug Harbor Community Chorus, Brockton Symphony Orchestra, The Miller Street Barn Band and Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra.  In this concert, Maxwell performs on marimba, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, drums, and more.  

Following intermission, a bell theme governs the remainder of the program, beginning with Cape Youth Chorale, echoed by the full Chorale and the audience in carols including “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High.” 

Another holiday tradition for American children is highlighted in the latter portion of the concert.  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is based on the poem by Clement Clark Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” first published in 1823. The iconic poem was set to music by Ken Darby and recorded by Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians in 1942. The subsequent arrangement by Harry Simeone is the version the Falmouth Chorale presents. Yankee promises it to be an entertaining performance.  

Chorus and audience continues the celebratory mood through to the program’s conclusion with the Cornish “Sans Day Carol”; the finale of Yankee’s Songs in the Air, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” — featuring a descant of children's voices from the choir loft;  and closing with “The Vesper Hymn.”

The family-friendly performance of Carols & Lullabies on December 9 at 1 pm includes some selections from Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest and the complete ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The Cape Youth Chorale performs their bell-themed medley and helps lead audience participation in familiar carols.  John Yankee provides spoken introductions and explanations to help younger attendees and their families more fully enjoy the experience.      

Tickets to Carols & Lullabies are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $5 for students.  Admission to Saturday’s family-friendly concert, appropriate for accompanied school-age children, is $5 for children and $15 for adults, with a $35 per family maximum for two adults and children.  To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.falmouthchorale.org, call 774-392-2383, or follow the Chorale on Facebook.  

The mission of The Falmouth Chorale is to share with our audiences the joy of singing and to communicate with passion the marvelous and varied choral music that has been created over the centuries. Celebrating 53 years of performing choral music for audiences on the Upper Cape, the Falmouth Chorale has enjoyed membership of nearly 1000 passionate singers over its existence. Today, Artistic Director John Yankee leads the 65-voice ensemble. Fifteen members sing in the select Chamber Singers for community and private events.  For more information, visit falmouthchorale.org, call 774-392-2383, or visit us on Facebook.

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