Music of the angels to grace St. Dunstan’s Basilica
St. Dunstan’s Basilica once again welcomes those wishing to experience the spirit of Christmas in the spectacular glow of candlelight during its Christmas concert. The annual takes place Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. in Charlottetown. Admission is by free will offering.
The Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra, and other musicians, including Don Fraser on keyboards, all under the direction of Leo Marchildon, accompanies the expanded choir of over 50 choristers. This year’s program features Vivaldi’s Gloria and an encore presentation of Fantasia Noel, the contemporary cantata that premiered last year to great acclaim. The words to Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ are essentially the song of the angels as proclaimed to the shepherds on the eve of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. However, this text is set to a masterpiece of Baroque construction and splendour. “It’s a piece of dramatic contrasts whereby each line of text is assigned to a different movement and given its own emotional flavour,” says Marchildon, adding vocal solos are sprinkled throughout the work, featuring Sylvia Mutch, Angele Rix, and Kara Callaghan.
The carols making up Fantasia Noel should be well known to almost everyone. However, composer/ arranger Joshua Spracht turns many of these traditional carols on their ear, often giving the tried and true a complete rethinking, either through rhythmic or harmonic reinvention, or by creating completely new melodies. Clever interplay between the combining of different carols also adds to the interest. “The highlight of the concert is unquestionably the point when all the lights in the church go out, and each of the 1,200 attendees lights a taper, while the strains of ‘Silent Night’ waft over a church aglow in candlelight.