The Santa Clara Chorale’s 2017 holiday concert “Gloria,” conducted by Artistic Director Scot Hanna-Weir, exceeded the great expectations of the audience at Mission Santa Clara on Dec. 8. The concert had something for everyone—classical inspiration, winter love poems and traditional holiday carols. The sacred Mission was decorated for the Advent season, anticipating the coming of Christ, with Christmas trees and poinsettias.
“No holiday concert is complete without an audience sing along,” said Hanna-Weir, warming up the audience on the last verse of the 15th century carol “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Antonio Vivaldi’s joyous “Gloria,” his most famous choral piece, completed the first half of the concert. It was followed after intermission by five modern Hebrew love vignettes written in wintertime with music by Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre and lyrics by his girlfriend who became his wife.
Then the Chorale sang the lush “Luminous Night of the Soul” by Norwegian-born contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo with moving lyrics by American poet and lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri. Other sing-along carols were interspersed with the major pieces, and the Chorale sang “Silent Night” as a hushed ending to an uplifting evening.
“We try to speak to everybody with our selection of music because everybody wants something different out of a holiday concert,” said Hanna-Weir.
“Gloria,” accompanied by six instrumentalists and the Chorale’s pianist, Dan Cromeenes, featured the voices of five female soloists from the Chorale.
Antonio Vivaldi was a priest and music teacher at a home for abandoned girls that prided itself on the quality of its music education, choir and orchestra. He composed “Gloria” in 1715 specifically for those highly-trained girls, making it a perfect piece more than three hundred years later to showcase the female voices of the 80-member community Chorale.
“So many talented singers are members of the Chorale, and great choirs are made up of great singers,” said Hanna-Weir. “I felt lucky that I knew we had the level of singers to do this. I was very proud of them. They were all excellent.”
“‘Gloria’ really expresses the true nature of the season—love and happiness and joy,” said Ron Paradies, SCC Board of Directors president. “We wanted everybody to enjoy the music of the season.”
And they did.
“I wanted to relive listening to Vivaldi and the holiday drew me to the concert,” said Maria Apilado from Santa Clara. “It was beyond my expectations.”
“Wow! That was delightful!” said San Jose resident Susanne Vanderhoef, attending her first SCC concert, which she saw posted on the social network “Nextdoor.”
“I love to sing Christmas carols. I came to sing along and for the opportunity to enjoy really stunning choral music,” said Vanderhoef, a big fan of Vivaldi’s Baroque music.
Marie Simon and Bill Hoeft from Los Gatos came to be uplifted by the music and enjoy the Christmas spirit of the Mission, where they had been married.
“The soloists sang beautifully. It was a pleasure,” said Simon.
“I was blown away by the concert,” said John Hawley from Santa Clara. “I feel joyous, a sense of uplift and celebration.”
“The ‘Luminous Night of the Soul’ was breathtaking. I love being exposed to new music,” said Hawley’s wife, Clair. “The sense of love for humanity after sharing music is a grace.”
The concert was repeated at on Dec. 10.
“We, The People,” the Chorale’s next concert, explores the diversity of America through music born of many world traditions. Performances are at 7 p.m. on March 2, 2018, in Palo Alto with the Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School Choir and at 7:30 p.m. on March 10 at Mission Santa Clara with the Aswat Ensemble.