Santa Clara Chorale guest conductor Dr. Charlene Archibeque, professor emerita at San Jose State University, gave high praise to the chorale singers, the Jubilate Baroque Orchestra, which accompanied the singers, and the faithful chorale followers who filled Mission Santa Clara December 7 and 9 for the chorale’s popular, annual holiday concert, “Comfort and Joy.”
“I picked especially difficult, little-known music and the choir rose to the challenge. They performed like pros tonight,” says Archibeque Friday night of the 80-member, all-volunteer choir.
The chorale’s inspiring challenge was the 50-minute “Magnificat in D major,” written in 1749 by the 35-year-old Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who was more well-known in his own time—the late German Baroque period—than his famous father, Johann Sebastian Bach.
“The Bach music is moving. It vibrates in your very being; it’s almost unworldly,” says Janice Lenske from Saratoga during intermission.
“The performance is so impressive and professional. I don’t know what the talents of the individuals are, but this shows what can be achieved with the right motivation and the right director. It’s inspirational to think that a group of volunteers can produce such fine musicianship,” says Lenske.
“Messe de Minuit pour Noel,” written by Marc-Antoine Charpentier around 1690 during the French Baroque period, began the second half of the program, which ended with three traditional Christmas Carols. The audience joined in on “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “The First Noel,” and the chorale alone closed the program with the English carol “As It Fell Upon a Night.”
“That was wonderful. The best audience singing I’ve ever heard,” says Archibeque to the audience at the concert’s end. “Choir, give them a hand.”
“Why not try out for a choir…how about the Santa Clara Chorale?” she suggests to the audience.
For Ron and Sharyn Jones from San Jose, attending the chorale’s holiday concert is a tradition enhanced by friendship with chorale soprano Peggy Grettum.
“It’s the beginning of the whole holiday season for us,” says Sharyn. “The music is stunning. It opens your heart and prepares you, makes you receptive, to all the family, friends, and love which hopefully come your way in the next few weeks.”
“There’s a global feeling with music from the past from all over the world,” says Ron, who also noted the “Magnificat’s” many solos, which were sung by guest soloists.
“This is a beautiful venue for Christmas,” says Lenske, looking towards the mission chancel, decorated for the holy season with red poinsettias and Christmas trees with tiny white lights.
“The Great American Songbook,” featuring hits by famous Broadway composers, is the Santa Clara Chorale’s next concert. It will be presented March 10 at First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, and March 15 at Mission Santa Clara. Dr. Lesley Leighton, associate conductor, Los Angeles Master Chorale, will be the guest conductor for the spring concert.
The Santa Clara Chorale Board is currently conducting a search for a permanent director. Visit www.scc.org for chorale information.