AGMC is zeroing in on the final touches for our upcoming celebration at the cathedral. On Saturday, December 5, we’re giving a special preview performance in the Bailey Performing Arts Center on the campus of Kennesaw State University. On Sunday, December 6, our vocal ensemble Panache will appear at Atlanta’s famed “Toy Party” – one of the most-well attended holiday events in the southeast. And on Monday, December 7, you’ll be able to hear the AGMC on WABE public radio when it airs “All Spruced Up and KNOW where to go!” – the full concert from our 2008 season. And while we will all sit at home and enjoy our performance on Monday evening, it is still a very busy time for us as we bring together the chorus’s biggest concert of the year.
December Detours is an around-the-globe musical celebration bringing together the many ways we celebrate the holidays and traditions of our multi-cultural planet. Our trip makes stops in Finland, Austria, Norway, England, Ireland, France, the Ukraine, Puerto Rico, China, Taiwan, Germany and of course the Americas. From eastern folksongs to traditional carols, the AGMC has prepared for you an international smorgasbord of ear-pleasing holiday treats.
One of these treats is soprano Wanda Yang Temko, who returns to the AGMC as a special guest for this concert. Wanda previously shared the stage with the chorus in 2008 at the Cobb Energy Center performances of Divas and Dilemmas: Opera Our Way.Tonight, Wanda will perform arrangements of two beautiful folk songs from her native China, and may just steal the show with “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
We are also happy to feature Wanda in the concert’s centerpiece, “Hymn to the Nativity” by American composer David Conte. Conte’s neo-romantic style, greatly influenced by French impressionist composers, is the perfect match for John Milton’s text “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity.” Conte scored the piece for soprano (the angel of the Lord), male chorus and chamber orchestra, including harp, celesta and vibraphone. Shortly after its premiere by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus in 1987, Bill Zakariasen of the New York Daily News remarked that “Hymn to the Nativity” was “…truly celestial in its thematic material and in its voicing for singers and instrumentalists,” and went on to say that nothing more beautiful had been written for the Christmas season in years. Twenty-two years later, Conte’s piece remains one of the great modern contributions to holiday choral repertoire.
One of the last students of renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger, David Conte has composed concert works for organ, orchestra, and scores for the stage and screen, including the 2006 acclaimed documentary Ballets Russes. He is perhaps best known, however, for his choral music and it’s through the generosity of a private donor that the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus will be commissioning a new work by David Conte to be premiered at the chorus’s holiday concert of 2010, marking the beginning of the AGMC’s 30th season.
Choosing music for our holiday concerts is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my job, and I am grateful for the valuable input of the AGMC’s music advisory committee, our singing members and our patrons in the process. In addition to offering you traditional favorites, we believe that celebrating music of all cultures, from the traditional to the unexpected, is an important part of our mission to educate, unify and celebrate equality. It’s the time of year when we’re able to present music of the highest caliber, and we so enjoy bringing it to you.
All of us at the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus wish you and yours the happiest of holidays! We’ll see you at the Cathedral of St. Philip next week!