For the second year in a row, the St. Andrew’s Academy Choir was invited to sing with the Susanville Symphony at the Symphony’s Christmas Concert. As well as singing compositions by John Williams, the highlight for the chorister was singing the pieces arranged just for them and the orchestra by the Symphony’s conductor, Benjamin Wade.
The choir joined the orchestra in the second half of the concert and started with the Coventry Carol (which dates to the 1500’s), a song written for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which occurs during the 12 days of Christmas. The holy innocents were those boy children two and under who were killed by King Herod in his mad frenzy to kill the Christ Child.
Next followed another old carol, the Huron Indian Carol, dating back to 1643. When Jesuit missionary, Father Jean de Brébeuf, served the Huron Indians in Canada, living with them and learning their language, he wrote the carol using an old French melody. The original title was “Jesous Ahatonhia”(“Jesus, he is born”).
Mr. Wade also arranged “The Little Drummer Boy” for choir and orchestra, and this was the encore for the concert. He modeled this arrangement upon Ravel’s Bolero, in which a single instrument begins the song, followed by another, and another, until the entire orchestra is playing at full volume. In little drummer boy, a single snare-drum was the appropriate first instrument, played pianissimo at first, but at full-blast by the end.
Three sold-out audiences greatly enjoyed these choral pieces, and Mr. Wade said how much he enjoyed arranging music for the St. Andrew’s Academy Choir. The choristers enjoyed themselves also, the little ones practically sitting in the bells of the French Horns. The Choir looks forward to singing again with the orchestra, perhaps in the Winter of 2009.