Tuba Christmas, baroque tunes for the new year, and more

BSR Classical Interludes, December 2023, part 2

3 minute read
Close-up portrait shot of Mobley, a Black man with a full beard, dark with some light gray, looks on towards left of frame

To take you through the end of the year, here’s a musical miscellany. Some eclectic concert offerings include tubas (over 100 of them!), a striking choral premiere, some lyrical vocal music, and offerings that take us back to those baroque big boys Monteverdi and Vivaldi.

Tuba Christmas
Sunday, December 15, 2pm
Cherry Street Pier, 121 Columbus Avenue, Philadelphia

Over 100 players perform holiday tunes in this unique international experience that’s now in its 50th year. Performers of the tuba family—tubas, euphoniums, baritone horns, sousaphones, and more—will greet the holiday season in harmony. The Philadelphia event is conducted by Jay Krush, artist-in-residence/lecturer in tuba and euphonium at Temple’s Boyer College of Music and tubist with the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra and the Grammy-winning Chestnut Brass Company. Free and open to the public, the event takes place rain or shine.

The Crossing: poor hymnal
Friday, December 15, 6pm and 8:30pm
Iron Gate Theatre at the University of Pennsylvania, 3700 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Sunday, December 17, 5pm
Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia

This remarkable Philadelphia vocal group—recently named Musical America’s 2024 Ensemble of the Year and Grammy-nominated (their ninth!) for Carols After a Plague—is premiering this work by David Lang at their annual holiday concert. Commissioned by The Crossing, it adds to the sacred music traditions of varying religions by posing the question of whether the hymns that are sung today are truly reflective of the community goal to care for one another that we ostensibly espouse.

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia: Vivaldi & Williams
Friday, December 15, 7:30pm
Sunday, December 17, 2:30pm
Perelman Theatre, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

Saturday, December 16, 7:30pm
Esperanza Arts Center, 4261 North 5th Street, Philadelphia

Composer-in-residence Evan Williams conducts the world premiere of his A Little Mass for Christmas. This baroque and medieval-inspired work for chorus and countertenor features Reginald Mobley in Williams’s interpretation of ancient text and musical tradition. The concert also features Mobley and soprano Sage DeAgro-Ruopp in Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major.

Lyric Fest: Any of Those Decembers
Saturday, December 16, 3pm
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr

Sunday, December 17, 3pm
Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia

For their holiday offering, this ensemble that specializes in vocal music has commissioned a “winter cantata” by Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg with text from the poetry of Jeanne Minahan. The work is set for four voices, string quartet, flute, and piano. A meditation on fond memories and experiences, it features Rebecca Myers (soprano), Devony Smith (mezzo-soprano), Stephen Ng (tenor), and Steven Eddy (baritone), in solos and ensemble. The vocalists are joined by the Daedalus Quartet, Ráyo Furuta (flute), and Lyric Fest pianist and co-founder Laura Ward.

Choral Arts Philadelphia: Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
Sunday, December 31, 5pm
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 19 South 38th Street, Philadelphia

Recently, this ensemble (now under the direction of Donald Meineke) has been presenting a choral masterwork in a celebratory concert on New Year’s Eve. This early evening concert has become a Philadelphia staple, and this year the chorus will sing the magnificent Vespers of 1610 by Claudio Monteverdi. Choral Arts singers will be joined by the Philadelphia Bach Collegium in this evening of vocal and instrumental music informed by historical practices.

At top: Countertenor Reginald Mobley leads the chorus in A Little Mass for Christmas. (Photo courtesy of Reginald Mobley.)

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