Not your everyday Christmas concert

Mellow seasonal music from seldom-heard baroque instruments will be featured in the Praetorius Christmas Vespers concert on Saturday in Red Deer.

Mellow seasonal music from seldom-heard baroque instruments will be featured in the Praetorius Christmas Vespers concert on Saturday in Red Deer.

Two of Alberta’s premiere chamber vocal ensembles — the award-winning Spiritus Chamber Choir and VoiceScapes from Calgary — will join musicians from across Canada at Gaetz Memorial United Church for a German baroque Christmas concert.

Some of the instruments that will be used have rarely been heard in the last century. For instance, musician Douglas Kirk, from Montreal, will play the cornetto, a bow-shaped precursor of the trumpet, as well as the bass-sounding rackett.

Calgary native Peter Christensen, now based in Quebec, will perform on the trombone predecessor, the sackbut, while Edmonton native Katrina Russell, now living in Victoria, will play the early bassoon-like dulcian.

Wendy Markosky, of Lacombe, will perform on the church’s pipe organ. And the long-necked lute-like theorbo will also be played.

Four string musicians from the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra will perform as a chamber ensemble on gut string instead of metal string instruments.

The overall tone of the concert will be more rich and mellow than if the music was played by modern instruments, said Tim Shantz, director of the 35-member Spiritus choir.

Whether audience members are of German heritage, he predicted they are sure to be immersed in the Christmas spirit of the 1600s.

Michael Praetorius was a well known German composer, organist and theorist, who wrote many tunes in the late 1500 to early 1600s that are still performed today. This is not, old, musty, out-of-date music, said Shantz. “It’s living, breathing music that still resonates with people.”

One of the songs on the program is In Dulci Jubilo, a song with medieval German/Latin origins that Praetorious set to “absolutely gorgeous music,” he added. (Some people may know it as the tune to the English song Good Christian Men Rejoice.)

The Anglicized title of another song some might recognize is Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming.

The concert that involved RDSO music director Claude Lapalme, separating different musical parts for various instruments, will feature music for choir as well as smaller vocal and instrumental combinations.

Shantz said audience members will also get to sing along to some English verses of traditional German Christmas carols.

The series, co-presented by Early Music Voices and the Canadian University College’s Sunday at Seven Series, is on at 8 p.m. at 4758 50th St.

Tickets are $25 at the door ($15 seniors, $10 youths and students).

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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