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Sing Through the Winter Blues Candlelight, Mozart and more
Sing Through the Winter Blues
Candlelight, Mozart and more
By Suzi Steffen
Sing-along Messiahs are so early summer/Bach Festival, but that doesn’t mean the Eugene area can’t celebrate the major consumer/Christian holiday of the winter in traditional style.
For one thing, who could beat the Eugene Concert Choir for its efforts to keep us on the warm, glowy track of the season? The (spendy, but from what I hear, well worth it) Madrigal Dinners on Dec. 11 and 12, performed by the smaller Vocal Arts Ensemble, boast everything Renaissance, from a boar’s head to goblets and the sweet music of the great British madrigal writers. Costumes adorn the singers, but that doesn’t stop them from producing gorgeous music as the audience drinks and sups.
But if the comedy and homey style of Mason Williams appeal more, you’re on; the Concert Choir performs in and benefits from the ever-popular Mason Williams Holiday Show on Dec. 5 and 6, with a cast of everyone from Mozart Players to the South Eugene High School Concert Choir.
Not that the Mozart Players, or at least some of them, aren’t busy in other venues; it’s time on Dec 7 and 8 for the traditional Candlelight Baroque concerts at the First Christian Church. There’s Bach, of course, in the programming — one of the Brandenburgs, which have oddly come to send brain signals saying Winter! Holidays! — and the also holiday-ish Handel Harp Concerto. At concert’s close, audience members will hear the soaring sound of Pergolesi’s Magnificat, a satisfyingly glorious sound for rounding off a holiday music event.
I could easily argue that the combined forces of new Eugene Symphony music director Danail Rachev and revered pianist Alexandre Dossin make the Dec. 3 regular-season concert a holiday treat, but that would be neglectful of the holiday extravganza that is the Dec. 12-13 Yuletide Celebration this year touched by the magic of Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the big-screen adaptation of Little Mermaid. Dancing Santas and a host of other family-friendly spectacle makes these concerts fun for everyone from the youngest kid to the oldest gramps (skipping the Gothy teens on the way). Seriously, is there anything more fun when you’re a young’un than getting ready for a good ol’ holiday show? That’s something every Christmas-celebrating little kid should get to do.
But what if you’re a Hannukah celebrator? Well, the holiday doesn’t go uncelebrated, at least not at Ahavas Torah, where kids can build their own menorahs on Dec. 10 and where the whole family can attend the Dec. 12 concert and celebration.
The UO Music department happily offers several season-ending options, ranging from the Holiday Choral Concert Dec. 5 (in the perfectly holiday-ish Beall) to the Percussion and Gospel Ensembles on Dec. 6. You won’t get more of a musical bang for your buck than with these students playing and singing their well-trained hearts out.
Speaking of singing with skill and training, the party continues after the gifts have been opened. Ever since the Eugene Opera revived itself a couple of years ago with much effort, an influx of support and a newly professionalized image, the post-Christmas doldrums have become more like an anticipation of what’s going to happen next at the Hult Center. Though last year’s Orpheus in the Underworld wasn’t quite as good last year as the Opera no doubt wanted, I predict that this year’s Marriage of Figaro will be the gorgeously decorated froth everyone wants from a year-ending performance.
A lot of that depends on the principals, and once again, the opera’s general director Mark Beudert trades on his connections to land us some serious talent. Mozart’s splendid music for this opera charms nearly everyone. The principals are Kelly Kaduce as Countess Almaviva, (Kaduce is a rising star in the opera world, for sure); local fave Joelle Harvey as Susanna (also a rising star, she just performed as Zerlina in the N.Y. City Opera Don Giovannii); Lee Gregory, who kicked serious vocal (and acting) ass as Leporello in last March’s Don Giovanni, as Figaro; and Christopher Burchett as Count Almaviva (the count is super-scummy, and I’m interested to see how the attractive Burchett makes him both an ass and sympathetic). Amanda Crider was one of the high points of Orpheus with her Diana, and she comes back the the Eug to play Cherubino, a role that should amuse the audience.
Tickets aren’t super expensive to any of these performances, but if you’re feeling the pinch, imagine them as a holiday gift. Music tix: The perfect stocking stuffer!