Sunday, December 13, 2015


for Christmas concerts! and this past week we attended several.  Last Sunday morning, of course, we had an advent-themed service, so Advent Carols were included, and the choir (of which I delight to be a member) sang an anthem.

That Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. I was part of a cantata at Bellevue Heights Baptist Church.  I had been invited to play viola in a small group accompanying their choir, and we had a thorough rehearsal on Saturday morning.  The performance went very well, was a joy to be part of, and was very enthusiastically appreciated by the audience.

Tuesday evening we went to a Christmas concert of the West Valley Chorale, a highly respected choral group in this area.  The first half of the program was a Bach Magnificat.   The pianist was awesome.  She really carried the whole performance.  Now, a small criticism--the soloists were from the choir, and were really not able to do justice to the music.  It would have been better to hire professional soloists for those parts.  But the rest of the program was bang-up wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed the "Bidi Bom" and the "Go Tell It on the Mountain," their last number, with a great soloist (Jane Higgs) and an arrangement that really rocked!

Wednesday brought an orchestra rehearsal in the morning, preparing to give a Christmas concert at an elementary school this coming Friday.  At 5 p.m. Chancel Choir met at church for a brief run-through, and at 6 p.m. we were part of a program of Advent Music in the fellowship hall.

Thursday was time for a regular choir rehearsal.  I stayed afterward to look at some violin/piano music with our organist, Gloria.  We got to talking about the organ--a new, fantastic, German-built pipe organ, and Gloria got out some music and I was permitted to sit down at that wonderful organ and play for about a half hour.  What a fantastic treat that was!

On Saturday we had plans to go to the Grace Bible Christmas program with another couple, but Jim had second thoughts.  He had had a hard time on Tuesday evening, in a very crowded church with what seemed to be no air circulation.  He had quickly left at intermission to go outdoors and get some fresh air, which did revive him, but he was not  anxious to repeat that experience.  The Grace Bible programs are excessively popular, and all four performances fill literally to overflowing.  So he decided to take a pass on that program, having already heard lots of good Christmas music.

Well, it was a terrific program.  It was due to start at 2 p.m., but by 1:30 the sanctuary and the overflow room were filled past overflowing--so they "entertained" the audience with a 1/2 hour of audience participation singing of carols.  Sondra Harris, a local soloist led the singing, and it was excellent.  People love to sing those familiar Christmas carols.

Then we had the program itself--over an hour of excellent choral singing, accompanied by a top notch small ensemble (6 violins, 2 violas, 1 cello, French horns, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpets, trombones -- that's starting to sound like a complete orchestra.)  For me the highlight was a clarinet solo, an arrangement of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" accompanied by the ensemble.  That alone was worth the whole concert.

Church again today featured our choir at the 8:30 service, again with an anthem and several Advent Songs in the service.

The Christmas season seems short to me--and is the only time of year that we sing this music.  What a wonderful week this has been!

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