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Coro Vivo provides a Christmas choral circumnavigation of the globe
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Coro Vivo Ottawa performed their annual Christmas concert in front of a packed house at the Orleans United Church this past Friday and Saturday. File photo

The spirit of Christmas has been reflected in song the world over, including compositions from such far flung countries as Argentina and Ghana.

Some, like "Issay, Issay! (Hear Ye, Hear Ye!)" from Ethiopia, and the Jamaican carol "Mary's Little Boy Child" made famous by Harry Belafonte, have become familiar seasonal jingles in North America. Others, however, are much more obscure.

Coro Vivo drew upon the international songbook of the holiday season as inspiration for their annual Christmas concert held at Orleans United Church last Friday and Saturday.

The chorus took their audience on a choral circumnavigation of the globe during a 90 minute performance that touched down in Africa, Europe, South America and the Caribbean before arriving back in Canada.

The evening's journey started out in Canada with the French Canadian song "Le Train d'Hiver", and then quickly crossed the pond for stops in Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Germany before pausing for a brief respite as the audience joined in the singing of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

The trip was quickly "rejoined" with a stop in the Basque region of Spain which provided the highlight of the first half of the evening's performance with a trio of "night" songs: "The Gentle Voice of the Night", "Give Me This Christmas Night" and "O Lovely Christmas Star" featuring soloist Reinhard Pees..

From Spain the program journeyed to Africa with stops in Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia for a rousing performance of "Issay! Issay!".

After a brief intermission the audience was transported to South America for stops in Argentina and Venezuela and then hopped over to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Following the tradition of past Coro Vivo Christmas concerts, the younger members of the audience were invited to the front of the room to join in the singing of "Away In The Manger". As the song came to a close a special guest arrived wearing a bright red suit trimmed in white fur. Santa arrived just in time to give his greetings and hand out treats for the kids.

The concert then came full circle with a medley of more familiar holiday compositions such as "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells" featuring soloists Maxime Passer and Kevin Russell.

The church provided a perfect setting for the concert thanks to the room's amazing acoustics as the final Hallelujah in "Laudate Dominum" would attest. The concert was brought to a close with "Christmas Joy" , a feeling shared by every member of the audience.

All in all, it was another wonderful performance by one of Ottawa's premiere choruses which can trace its roots back to Blackburn Hamlet where the group was first formed in 1983.

The chorus was accompanied on piano by their resident pianist Louise Léveillé who was ably joined in the music pit by guest instrumentalists Alex MacFarlane on percussion and Philippe Charbonneau on double bass.

Coro Vivo's next public performance will be this spring when they will celebrate the folk traditions of the British Isles andthe Canadian Maritimes in a choral concert with Celtic origins. For more information visit www.corovivoottawa.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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