One if the most wonderful things about the Christmas season is all the wonderful seasonal music. We recently attended A Candlelight Christmas, performed by The Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center, for an evening of holiday selections.
At the performance we attended special conductor Andrew Clark did a good job of conducting not only the chorus, but also functioning as host for the performance. The Robinson Singers of James R. Robinson Secondary School joined the Washington Chorus onstage and they were wonderful. I enjoyed the selections that offered on their own especially “Here We Come a-Caroling.”
Overall the music of the program was somewhat difficult for me to enjoy. I may sound like a total rube and I apologize, but I admittedly am early in my journey to appreciate choral music. I’ve really only ever seen a couple of choral performances. But, this program with the many long and repetitive songs and also a lot of material in foreign languages, it was very difficult for me to stay interested in. I appreciated that they included the lyrics in the program, but I found myself unable to either read enough to know what was actually being sung or stay invested in the performance. As an actor I can’t imagine wanting people to spend time buried in the program because it really took away from the performance for me.
I was really looking forward to the sing along part of the program, especially after seeing that we’d be singing some of my favorite carols. But, it wasn’t very fun to constantly be getting up and sitting back down. Everyone around would get very unsettled from standing and then take several minutes to quiet back down- only to have to stand again. I also, and this is peeve from childhood, hate to have to sing more than 3 verses of a song or hymn. However, the hardest thing for me was the “Hallelujah Chorus.” I didn’t know it and I only got a few sentences in the program to go off of. I was totally lost, stressed out and couldn’t enjoy it because there are lots of repeats and if you don’t know the piece well, singing along with it is almost impossible.
I’d like to develop my musical palate to include the appreciation of more choral music, but I think I need to look for programs that may be both shorter and contain simpler pieces. I’m a baby in this world of music and I think in this analogy I’m still crawling and not ready to walk! But, I can learn to appreciate it. I just need more time.
Kari Liked: Some of the sing along aspects, The Carol of the Bells
Kari Didn’t Like: All the standing up and sitting down for the sing along,. The length and austerity of some the pieces.
I sang in several choirs in high school, and still love the occasional concert. Choral music at its best can be uplifting, inspiring, and entertaining. At its worst however, it can be pompous, overblown, and hard to understand. A Candlelight Christmas took turns at both, but did have some enjoyable moments.
The candlelight processional itself was lovely and sounded beautiful. The logistics of how everyone wound up in the right seat alone are staggering. Overall, the first portion of the concert was bogged down with foreign songs, and I found myself lost in the words provided in the program. “Choral Fanfare: Gloria” was an exception here. It was wonderfully written and had a marvelous simplicity in its words. The Washington Chorus also did a great job with “The Carol of the Bells.” This piece is the always crowd pleaser when done well, and they delivered.
After intermission, things picked up quite a bit. Music Director Julian Wachner’s arrangement of “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” were just lovely. It was much more entertaining once I stopped trying to follow with the words in the program and just soaked in the music.
I did find it annoying that we had to stand for every audience participation number. Also a problem was the closing sing-along of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. Only words were provided, making it almost impossible to fully sing this very difficult piece.
The Washington Chorus is definitely very talented, and when given the proper opportunity shines superbly.
RJ Liked: The Christmas Carols that they sang
(We were provided with two complimentary media tickets by TWC for this performance. However all opinions are our own.)