Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Feb. 23


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Bob Monette



(Posted 7:30 a.m., Dec. 11)

Coro Vivo returns 'Back Home for Christmas'
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Soloist Helen Cai performs with Coro Vivo during their holiday performance of 'Back Home for Christmas' at the Orleans United Church on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Coro Vivos' stature as one of the premiere choral ensembles in Ottawa was evident for all to see and hear Saturday night as they performed the second of two Christmas concerts at Orléans United Church.

Led by Cuban-born musical director Antonio Llaca, and accompanied by Orléans pianist Louise Léveillé, the 56-member chorus began the first half of their performance with "Sicut Cérvus" with its Old Testament message of finding hope in desolation which represents the abiding emotion of mankind before the coming of the Christ Child.

The haunting lament was the perfect prelude to the three Nativity-related pieces that followed. Taken from Handel's Messiah, "And The Glory of God", "And He Shall Purify" and "For Unto Us A Child Is Born", are all expressions of faith in wonders yet to come.

"And The Glory of God" showed off the chorus' soprano section which sounded like a configuration of angels.

The fitting prelude to the birth of the Christ Child was followed by the audience participating in "Shepherds in the Field Abiding", sung to the same tune as "Angels We Have Heard On High", which rejoices in Christ's birth.

The chorus then performed the traditional Austrian Christmas carol "Still, Still, Still", a lullaby arranged by the 19th century composer Norman Luboff, followed by the traditional 17th century Christmas carol "Es ist ein' Ros' entsprugen", Lo How a Rose E'r Blooming.

The audience then joined in the singing of "Hark The Herald Angels Sing".

The first half of the concert was brought to close with "O Holy Night" featuring soloist Helen Cai who is a recent addition to the ensemble.

After a brief intermission, the chorus returned to the stage for the second half of the performance.

Arranged as a true celebration of the holiday season, the second half was appropriately kicked off with the first movement of John Rutter's "Gloria" -- "Gloria In Excelsis Deo", followed by a Ukranian version of the "Carol of the Bells" entitled the "Ukranian Bell Carol".

The audience was then invited to sing "Silent Night" in its original German version with choruses in French and English.

The chorus' next sang the David Willcock's arrangement of the 17th century French Christmas lullaby "Quelle est cette odeur agréable", followed by John Rutter's arrangement of the medieval French carol ""Noél nouvelet", and the Gustav Holst arrangement of "Personent Hodie".

The evening was brought to a joyous and exuberant close with the audience joining in the singing of "Joy to the World", followed by the John Rutter arrangement of "Deck the Halls".

It's been three years since Llacas took over as Coro Vivo's musical director and his influence on the ensemble has been evident with each passing performance. In my own humble opinion, Saturday night's Christmas concert was their best to date.

They won't have much time to rest on their laurels, however. The chorus will soon begin work on their next concert, a performance of José Maria Vitier's Misa Cubana featuring professional soloists Ania Hejnar, Whitney O'Hearn and Jeffrey Boyd, at Knox Presbyterian Church on Feb. 9.

They also have a concert planned for May 11 and 12, featuring works by Brahms and Schumann, appropriately entitled "Music for Romantics".

For more information about Coro Vivo you can visit their website at www.corovivoottawa.ca.

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



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