Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Share Christmas Eve with us! Prelude begins at 10:30.
Share Christmas Eve with us! Prelude begins at 10:30.
Imperial Brass has been delighting audiences around New Jersey for over 25 years. Originally founded as the Rutgers Alumni Brass Band by alumni Steve Dillon and Jon Korsun with arranger Mark Freeh, the band gave its first concert in April of 1991. Since then, Imperial Brass has presented highly entertaining programs that include traditional brass band literature, classical arrangements, popular music and more.
Many of the world’s greatest brass musicians have worked and collaborated with Imperial Brass over the years. Featured artists have included former principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic Philip Smith, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic Joseph Alessi, storied British euphonium soloists Robert and Nicholas Childs, famed American jazz cornetist Warren Vaché, principal trombone of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Charles Baker, and principal tuba of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Derek Fenstermacher.
Imperial Brass has performed at memorable venues across the state, including multiple appearances at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, the Montclair Citadel, and the Monmouth County Public Library in Manalapan. The band also performed at the International Trumpet Guild conference held at Rowan University in 2006, as well as the New Jersey Music Educators Association Convention in 2013. Imperial Brass has worked under the baton of many fine conductors, including Patrick Burns, Brian Bowen, Thomas McCauley, Anthony LaGruth and currently Ron Waiksnoris, who has served as Music Director since 2016.
Imperial Brass has also recorded, produced and released 6 CDs: Imperial Brass Highlights (1995), Imperial Brass and Friends (2002), Bone-a-Fide Brass (2007), Have Yourself a Brassy Little Christmas (2007), An American Legend: Imperial Brass Plays the Music of Leroy Anderson (2017), and Imperial Brass Plays J.S. Bach (2018).
Harmonium Choral Society Presents “Goodness and Light”
In-person live concerts on Saturday, December 11th at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 12th at 3:00 p.m.
Concertgoers will enjoy a world premiere by composer-in-residence Martin Sedek, Goodness and Light, with selections from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Donald St. Pierre’s Songs of Sweet Accord, and choral gems from Brandon Williams, Elaine Hagenberg, and others, with world-renowned harpist Merynda Adams. Artistic Director Dr. Anne Matlack says, “It is such a joy, after months of silence, to bring a brand-new work to life. Martin’s music has always been a wonderful fit for Harmonium singers, and for this work he deftly sets an extraordinary array of texts that celebrate the season and ‘goodwill toward all’ in many cultures. The work is a joint commission between Harmonium and the Composers Guild of NJ.”
Advance tickets to Goodness and Light may be purchased via harmonium.yapsody.com. Advance tickets are $25 ($20 students & seniors) and are available through 11:59 p.m. on December 10th; if available, tickets at the door are $30 ($25 students & seniors). Visit harmonium.org for more information or to make a donation.
Harmonium is committed to making its subscription concerts accessible and safe for all concertgoers; accessibility information is available on the ticketing website. Doors open one-half hour before the concert begins, but concertgoers are advised to leave plenty of time for parking. A map of parking is available from the Morristown Parking Authority at townofmorristown.org.
Additional Information: All of our singers are vaccinated and we will be following the science for safety protocols all year. Audience members will need to provide proof of vaccination along with a photo ID and will be required to wear masks while inside the building. Please make sure to check our website, harmonium.org, for any changes in the requirements of the venue.
Funding has been made possible in part by Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
MORE ABOUT HARMONIUM CHORAL SOCIETY
Harmonium Choral Society, based in Morris County, is one of New Jersey’s leading choral arts organizations. The 100-voice choral society has been recognized for its musical excellence and innovative programming, and has commissioned and premiered works by Amanda Harberg, Matthew Harris, Elliot Z. Levine, Harmonium’s composers-in-residence Mark Miller and Martin Sedek, and others.
Based on medieval carols, the circumstances surrounding Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols were difficult, both personally and professionally. The composer had fled to the United States at the outbreak of war in 1939 and during the three years he spent living in Brooklyn he met a cast of America’s most influential artists, writers and performers including Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, Edward Hopper and Salvador Dali, and W.H. Auden.
But by 1942, the mood in New York had changed and a homesick Britten felt the time was right to return home and he undertook the perilous journey across an Atlantic Ocean infested with U-boats. Despite the obvious dangers, Britten was able to spend the journey composing. He completed his Hymn to Saint Cecilia and began to arrange Christmas carols found in a book of poetry he had picked up in Nova Scotia before boarding the Swedish cargo ship, MS Axel Johnson, for the fraught passage home. The result was A Ceremony of Carols, a turning point for Britten, marking a return to his English musical roots and the development of a more populist and obviously melodic style of writing.
Originally written for harp and treble voices, A Ceremony of Carols begins with an unaccompanied procession, ‘Hodie Christus natus est’, before the harp joins with the choir for a series of carols telling the traditional story of the birth of Christ. Originally the carols themselves were intended as a series of unrelated songs, but just before the original performance in 1943, Britten added a final carol along with the harp interlude.
The text, structured in eleven movements, is taken from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, edited by Gerald Bullett. It is principally in Middle English, with some Latin and Early Modern English. It was first performed by the women of the Fleet Street Choir, but Britten quickly decided that the sound of boy’s treble voices were better at reflecting the child-like innocence he wanted to achieve through his setting. On 4 December 1943, the final version was performed by the Morriston Boy’s Choir at Wigmore Hall in London, conducted by Britten himself, and it was this same group which also made the first recording. Later in 1943, Britten published a version for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass mixed chorus – the version that the Chancel Choir will perform.
There is an excellent recording of the mixed voices arrangement of the piece conducted by Harry Christophers with The Sixteen and harpist Sioned Williams, available on Spotify and Apple Music.
Notes by Matthew Webb, sourced from the publisher Boosey & Hawkes website.
On Sunday, November 8, hymns and songs of worship in the weekly service will be in style of Jazz. Our “house” trio, Mark Weber, Bud Ayres, and our own Steve Hess, will be joined by saxophonist Anton Denner and trombonist Erick Storckman. This service, which will be a hybrid of our current virtual services and our Jazz Vespers services, will feature a sermon by Rev. Sarah Green and music led by Dr. Matt Webb. As usual, this service will be available online by 8am on November 8. We hope that you will “tune in!”