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(Posted 1:30 .m., Nov. 29)

Coro Vivo Christmas concert a jazzy affair
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Drummer Alex MacFarlane performed with Coro Vivo during their annual Christmas concert on the weenkend. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Jazz and classical Christmas music. At first blush it seems like an odd combination. There are plenty examples of jazz renditions of contemporary holiday tunes such as Duke Ellington’s version of “Jingle Bells” circa 1961 and “White Christmas” by the Charlie Parker Trio, but jazz infused chamber pieces are few and far between.

Leave it to Coro Vivo conductor Antonio Llaca to find one of the few chamber jazz mass pieces in the world and use it as the basis for their annual Christmas concert.

Meditatus was written in 2004 by Norwegian composer Jan Gunnar Huff for the Bode Cathedral Choir in Bode, Norway..

The original piece follows a traditional chamber mass in five parts – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Die. Llaca went out and procured the services of three accomplished jazz musicians for the weekend performances.

Jasmin Lalande is one of the top classical jazz saxophonists in the country having played with orchestras in Germany, Manhattan and Montreal. Stand-up bass player Paul Mack is a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s music program and has played with orchestras in Spain and South Africa. Last but not least, Alex MacFarlane also graduated from the University of Ottawa and has performed as a feature soloist with the NAC orchestra and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.

Rounding out the musical accompaniment for the 60-mermber strong chorus was pianist Louise LÚveillÚ, who has been a fixture with the Coro Vivo for the past 20 years, and Llaca, himself, who played classical guitar.

Before performing the Meditatus, the chorus warmed up with several compositions by Venezuelan composer Cesar Alejandro Carrillo sandwiched in between two pieces written by Dave Brubeck, as well as jazzed up version of "We Three Kings" arranged by the contemporary jazz legend.

The first half of the concert was solid, as is the case with any Coro Vivo performance, but the Meditatus was a real treat. Lalande's sax solo during the Credo was absolutely incredible.

The whole thing came together beautifully and over top of it all was the voices of the 60-member choir, reminding everyone who the real stars of the show were. Over the past 10 or so years, Coro Vivo has evolved into one of the premiere choruses in the region and their performance of Huff's Meditatus will enhance their status that even more.

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

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