Saturday, December 4, 2010

A New Take on an Old Tradition

“A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” ( was performed last evening at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory University.  It is based on the English tradition but contained many contemporary choral pieces.  The performance was by the Emory University Chorus and Emory Concert Choir, the latter being of some renown in the choral music world.  A brass quartet accompanied some of the pieces. 

I am very familiar with the traditional English version and was somewhat surprised by the introduction of the new works, but it is a University music department-sponsored event, so they probably feel some responsibility to recognize contemporary music.  I really liked “The Dream Isaiah Saw” by Glenn Rudolph.  It was spirited and rhythmic. 

The brass quartet had some major intonation problems, especially the French horn. 

The director was Eric Nelson, who is a professor, choral conductor, church musician, and composer who is director of choral studies at Emory.  He is a self described “passionate apologist for the choral craft and its importance in contemporary society.” It was a joy to watch him turn to the audience to conduct its choral pieces. He did it with obvious joy.
The chorus and choir were very good.  I was surprised how few people of color were in the ensembles, and in the audience, given the demographic makeup of Atlanta.  As has been said, the most segregated hour in the country is between 11:00am and 12:00 pm on Sunday.    

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