Seattle choirs raise their voices in holiday song
Singing raises spirits and hope at the holidays. Choir concerts and singalongs abound in the Seattle area.
Special to The Seattle Times
So it's December, and under cover of a frigid night you join a restless mob, roam the streets with frightening determination, and stand outside the homes of strangers doing what would be most unthinkable any other month of the year: singing.
Something about the holidays gives rise to song in non-singers and compels us to seek the sound of voices in unison. Caroling — whether house to house or in some public spot — is a cheering experience on long, late autumn nights. Choral performances, complete with audience singalongs, are rife at churches and performance halls this time of year.
But why now and not, say, the Fourth of July?
"There's so much familiar music during the holidays, lots of traditions that people grew up hearing," says Doug Fullington, director of the Tudor Choir. Fullington will lead the Choir in Handel's "The Messiah" at Town Hall this weekend (7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle; $19-$25; 800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com) and a "Carol Concert" at Blessed Sacrament Church on Dec. 27 (7:30 p.m., 5041 Ninth Ave. N.E., Seattle; $20 at the door; www.tudorchoir.org).
"There's a great deal of goodwill in caroling and seasonal music," he says. "People like to sing and hear songs from the traditional repertoire. Anytime we sing, it's personal. It's a beautiful way to connect and speak, and it bonds people."
Fullington says music lovers like to hear "The Messiah" around Christmas, but there are other choral pieces that should not be overlooked.
"J.S. Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio' is not so well known," he says of the 1734 sacred work that consists of six separate cantatas. "It recounts the Christmas story." Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers performs it Monday night at the First Free Methodist Church (3200 Third Ave. W., Seattle; $10-$25; 206-682-5208 or www.osscs.org).
Fullington also mentions Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia On Christmas Carols," which derived from the composer's work as editor of the "English Hymnal" early in the 20th century.
For the most part, Fullington says, we embrace comfort in holiday choral music and singalongs.
"We hear the tunes we know in churches, at the mall, on 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,'" he says. "People will sing for the same reason they sing the national anthem at games. It raises desire and hope."
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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