The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is making final preparations for our upcoming holiday concert at The Cathedral of St. Philip. You don’t want to miss “Bells in Boyland,” a varied program featuring special guests The Atlanta Concert Ringers. Now under the direction of one of America’s leading handbell conductors, Kevin McChesney, the ACR is poised to bring a visual and aural sparkle to this year’s concerts.
Also joining us will be American Baritone W. Dwight Coleman, a front-runner in Atlanta’s opera circles, and Mitch Weisiger, Organist at First United Methodist Church of Decatur. This will be only the second time AGMC has used the Cathedral’s Aeolian-Skinner organ – now with a new console – since I took the reins of AGMC in 2007.
One of the highlights of the program, featuring both Coleman and Weisiger, will be Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work Fantasia on Christmas Carols – a tapestry of traditional English carols inspired by the composer’s work as an editor for the original “Oxford Book of Carols,” which still remains the most comprehensive and authentic collection of European carols to date. Originally composed for mixed chorus and orchestra, Fantasia received its debut under the baton of the composer (pictured here) in 1912, shortly after he moved to Hereford. In 1925, this arrangement for male voices by Herbert W. Pierce was published. It is infrequently performed, compared to the original version, which has become a staple of holiday choral repertoire.
The wonderful thing about this piece is that these traditional carols, like so many others, were developed for Anglican church choirs and were first brought to life in spaces not unlike the Cathedral of St. Philip. In that spirit, AGMC will perform Fantasia from the Quire (choir loft), mostly unseen. A work with many layers of cross-voicing, where lower voices sing above higher ones, Fantasia brings four carols to life in a stunning, ethereal web of melody and harmony. It promises to be the highlight of this year’s holiday event.
We hope you are making plans now to attend one of our three performances: Friday, December 9, at 8 pm and Saturday, December 10, at 2 and 8 pm. Get your tickets by clicking on our home page. We’ll hold them for you at will call.
I look forward to seeing everyone at our biggest event of the year!