Easton Choral Arts to Celebrate Christmas Season with “Ceremony of Carols”


Easton Choral Arts Society continues its celebratory 40th season with Benjamin Britten’s immensely popular Ceremony of Carols, along with favorite songs of the season. The chorus under Artistic Director Wes Lockfaw, will be accompanied by harpist Rebecca Smith of the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Two performances will be held at Christ Church in downtown Easton, Friday, December 1, and Sunday, December 3.

Considered by many as the most important English composer since Henry Purcell, Britten composed the work in 1942 on his return voyage from the United States. Ceremony of Carols is one of Britten’s best-known and most-performed works. It has been described as a brilliantly conceived and dramatic concert work… enchanting Christmas music, with many wondrous and memorable effects.

It is based on the Ceremony of Nine Lessons and Carols, songs and dances of religious joy, a traditional part of an Anglican Christmas, consisting of hymns and other songs interspersed with Biblical readings.  Britten uses the nine carols without the lessons, to express the various moods surrounding the celebration of this most joyous season. Many of the carol texts reveal the mystery of the Christmas events.

Some of the carols are in Latin; some are in Middle English based on poems from the 15th and 16th centuries. They retain their unique flavor by Britten’s extensive use of old English language in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. The cantata is made up of 11 movements: 10 with voice and one for solo harp. The work opens and ends with the choir processing to plainsong, and the sections in-between deal with the traditional stories surrounding the birth of Christ.

Harpist Rebecca Smith will provide the sole accompaniment for the Britten piece. Rebecca has enjoyed a distinguished career as a professional harpist and teacher for over 30 years. Her orchestral credits include The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (1980-1990), The National Gallery of Art Orchestra, The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, The Filene Center Orchestra at Wolf Trap, The Chesapeake Orchestra and The National Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, she has served as a guest musician for The National and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras.

Join Easton Choral Arts for the second concert of its 40th Anniversary Season. To order tickets for Friday December 1 at 7:30 pm or Sunday December 3 at 4:00 pm, visit www.eastonchoralarts.org or call 410-200-0498. Advance sale tickets are $25 and are $30 at the door. Students will be admitted free with reservations.

The Easton Choral Arts Society is supported by grants from the Talbot County Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.

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