Commonwealth Chorale plans Christmas concerts

“Blessed Wonder Holy Joy,” title of this year’s series of Christmas concerts by the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia, spans the seasons of holiday style from the contemporary to the classic. Concerts will be held Dec. 3, at Clarksville Presbyterian Church located at 502 Virginia Ave. in Clarksville; Dec. 9 at Crewe United Methodist Church located at 607 E. Georgia Street in Crewe; and Dec. 10 at Farmville United Methodist Church located at 212 High Street in Farmville. All concerts will begin at 4 p.m. 

“Our program showcases the ‘Magnificat’ (Song of Mary) by Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen,” Chorale Artistic Director Carol Henderson said. “’Magnificat,’ Arnesen’s first major work, was commissioned, premiered, and recorded in 2014 by the Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir in Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway.”

“Norway, where Arnesen’s ethereal ‘Magnificat’ was born, is a land of rocky cliffs and beautiful fjords where the sun sets a striking rhythm of life,” Henderson related. “In November the sun descends into a purple-grey dusk that deepens into weeks of total darkness.” 

“The ‘Magnificat’ begins out of that murky twilight,” Henderson continued. “We hear an almost imperceptible hollow note from the organ, and then the cello begins its assent. The use of warm harmonies, jazz styling, and soaring melodies build a mesmerizing experience.” 

That experience easily translates into the troubled world of today.

“Arnesen sees Mary’s Song as one of hope for all people struggling against adversity,” Henderson added. 

The theme of “Blessed Wonder Holy Joy” continues with favorite choruses from Handel’s “Messiah.”

“This season’s concert also features a delightful mix including five Alfred Burt Carols (Set 2) composed in the 1940s and 50s and Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas,’” Henderson said.

Strings and flute, piano, and organ will provide accompaniment, and soloists will be featured during the performance. 

The Chorales’ artistic director since 2019, Henderson received bachelor of music and master of music degrees from Westminster Choir College. She currently serves as minister of music at Clarksville Presbyterian Church. 

“The Commonwealth Chorale is important to this community, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it,” Henderson commented. “I’m pleased to work with singers on music that promises to once again bring the joy and happiness of the Christmas season to our audiences.”

The Commonwealth Chorale, with membership representing all ages and musical backgrounds, includes singers from a many counties and towns across Southside Virginia.

Concerts (all at 4 p.m.) are free, and all are invited to attend.

Visit www.commonwealthchorale.org for more information on the Commonwealth Chorale. Concert updates will also be posted on the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia Facebook page.