‘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.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Walmart experiments with AI to monitor stores in real time

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. — Who’s minding the store? In the not-too-distant future it… Continue reading

Precision Drilling reports first-quarter profit, revenue up from year ago

CALGARY — Precision Drilling Corp. says it earned a profit in its… Continue reading

Federal government offers provinces 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

VANCOUVER — The federal government will split funding for bus service on… Continue reading

Manitoba files separate court action over federal carbon tax, seeks review

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has filed its own court challenge of… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Swole, buzzy, among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

BOSTON — Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and… Continue reading

Most Read