By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
“A Very British Christmas” features English composer Benjamin Britten's “A Ceremony of Carols,” plus traditional and secular Christmas songs by his fellow Brits, at 3 p.m. today (Sunday) at the Chimacum High School Auditorium, 91 West Valley Road, Chimacum.
Pianist Lisa Lanza will accompany the chorus in both performances.
Tickets are a suggested $15 donation at the door.
(The Community Chorus performed this program in Port Townsend on Saturday.)
Britten wrote “Ceremony” in 1942 at the height of World War II, as he crossed the North Atlantic Ocean aboard a Swedish cargo ship. It was a challenging trip, made more treacherous in waters infested with German U-boats.
“Ceremony of Carols” consists of eight polyphonic settings of 15th- and 16th-century poems.
These songs cover the spectrum of emotion, said Community Chorus director Rebecca Rottsolk: They go from jubilant exultations to pastoral solos. Then there's “This Little Babe,” which describes a vivid “holy war” between the Christ child and Satan.
“A Ceremony of Carols” is one of the best-loved works by Britten. This year is the 100th anniversary of his birth, and Rottsolk noted that more than 1,700 concerts are being performed worldwide to honor him.
Britten “made an enormous impact on 20th-century music,” as well as on sociopolitical issues, she said.
Britten, who died in 1976, was not only an openly gay man in a time and place where homosexuality was illegal, but also a conscientious objector during World War II.
Britten's music will be celebrated alongside that of Sir David Willcocks, with the chorus' renditions of his traditional carols such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen.”
Fred Nussbaum and members of the Port Townsend Family Orchestra will play along. Still other popular Christmas songs by Brit John Rutter round out the concerts. This music is “well-crafted and lovable,” said Rottsolk.
“If you were to pop over to London or Oxford or Cambridge for the holidays, you would hear all this music, in the concert hall and in the cathedrals,” she added.
For more information about the Community Chorus, phone 360-385-1402 or visit PTchorus.org.