According to Artistic Director Scott Tucker, music is what makes it truly feel like Christmas. The Choral Arts Society of Washington’s splendid performance of A Capital Christmas filled The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall with sounds of merriment and jubilee.
The event was sponsored by the Embassy of Argentina; in addition to the recognizable Christmas carols, this served a motivation to include pieces with Spanish flairs.
The Latin American roots were revealed in the processional piece, “Riu, Riu, Chiu.” Members of the Choral Arts Chorus advanced down the aisles as if they were gliding across the ground, full of life and intensity. The notable soloist, Andrew Ridgeway, provided a rich and powerful quality to his solo.
Once the chorus was presented in its full entity, the force was heightened. Numbers such as “A Bell,” “La Anunciacion,” and “Los Reyes Magos” were notable favorites of the audience; the choir’s use of crescendos and decrescendos kept the audience mesmerized by their ability to become one entity of singers. The sopranos floated above the stage with their captivating voices, while the basses kept the chorus grounded with their velvet accents. The chorus was held together by the interior parts such as the Altos and the Tenors, who blended so brilliantly.
Conductor Scott Tucker elated the audience with their ability to bring forth the wonderfully balanced and full chorus to its complete potential. Mr. Tucker is the Artistic Director of the expanded Choral Arts Chorus and of the new-found Choral Arts Chamber Singers, a smaller ensemble. He has continued to elevate the Choral Arts’ reputation with the addition of guest performers.
In this case, the guest musician was none other than rock and pop legend Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. Mr. Baxter has created music known across the globe such as “Do It Again” and “My Old School”. His contribution to this Christmas performance created a feeling of modernity to the customary choral experience. Mr. Baxter’s adaptation of “O Holy Night “on the pedal steel guitar is the first ever of its kind. His peaceful variation was simply inspired.
During “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Deck the Halls,” Conductor Brandon Straub kept the solid balance between the orchestra, the chorus and the audience. The audience was given opportunities to sing along with well-known Christmas carols. This really captivated the audience and drew them closer to the stage.
The instrumentalists of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra accompanied the choir throughout many of the numbers; however, the orchestra performed a few of their own fiery pieces. The orchestra was led beautifully by conductor Sergio Alessandro Bušjle. His had the ability to bring out the subtleties of the orchestra through his wonderful conducting.
1st violinist, Diana LeGrand, was able to bring such passion and drive to her performance through her absolutely breathtaking solos. She was seen notably in “La Cambiada” (The Changed), where she brought a dance-like Spanish flair enchanted the audience, and Fugue.
“Fugue” was by far one of the most intricate pieces in the program. This performance, along with others, incorporated two noteworthy instruments of Spanish descent. The Bandoneón, presented by Emmanuel Trifilio, and the Charango, performed by Patricio Zamorano, complemented the orchestra and enhanced the atmosphere of the Spanish culture. The Bandoneón produces an accordion-like resonance, and it provided a vital element of beauty to the numbers. The Charango creates the timbre of a lute, and has been utilized by Spanish folk musicians for generations. The addition of these extraordinary instruments truly shaped the Latin American ambiance and brought the culture to the Christmas performance.
The Choral Arts Society’s spectacular performance filled the hall with delightful music and compelled the audience to its feet. The choral and orchestral strains were met with thunderous applause of appreciation.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
The Choral Arts Society of Washington’s A Capital Christmas was performed on November 15, 2014, at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Remaining performances are on December 21 and 24, 2014. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467.4600, or purchase them online.