‘Miracle’ music flows from RDSO

Only by a “miracle” did the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s A Baroque Christmas concert go off on Saturday night.

Only by a “miracle” did the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s A Baroque Christmas concert go off on Saturday night.

Conductor Claude Lapalme said if Friday’s heavy snowfall had happened any later, the concert at the Gaetz United Church would certainly have been cancelled.

“It was our Christmas miracle.”

As it was, motorists were being warned against Hwy 2 travel earlier on Saturday, so concert organizers were busy lining up a chartered bus to bring 16 musicians up from Calgary, recruiting a last-minute bassoonist to replace a B.C. oboist who couldn’t make it into the Calgary airport, and replanning a dozen other things.

“The preparation was absolutely unbelievable,” said Lapalme.

But the concert did go off, to the delight of the nearly full house crowd that had braved appalling road conditions to attend.

Audience members were rewarded by hearing baroque music performed as authentically as possible.

The string instruments were played with period bows.

Lapalme had transposed music played by organist Wendy Markosky to a lower tone, since baroque organs were set at a lower pitch than the modern Gaetz United Church pipe organ.

And the singers from the Calgary group VoiceScapes pronounced the Latin words in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Christmas Mass with a French accent.

“We’re not wearing powdered wigs, and we’re not being lit with candles, otherwise, we are giving you as much of a backward look as possible,” Lapalme told the chuckling crowd.

The Charpentier piece, made up of music from 11 French Christmas carols, was pretty awe-inspiring.

The nine-member choir repeated the familiar Gloria in excelsis Deo, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, and Hosanna in excelsis, filling the peak-roofed church with glorious voices.

The orchestra’s string instruments sounded much mellower when played with baroque bows, giving the music a rounder, more languorous sound.

When combined with the reasonant pipe organ, the music seemed in keeping with the slower and more contemplative period in which the piece was written.

Close your eyes and you could imagine the powdered wigs.

The RDSO and singers also performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s Second Cantata from his Christmas Oratorio.

This time, the VoiceScapes ensemble sang in German, with soloists taking turns singing parts written for a bass, tenor and alto.

Audience members could follow the English translation on a provided program and smile over the literal translation: “Look, there lies in the dark stable one who has dominion over all! Where once an ox sought food, now rests the Virgin’s child.”

OK, maybe the cantata’s text wasn’t poetry, but parts of the performance by the RDSO and singers came awfully close.


Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Most Read