I’ve been to Music of the Baroque’s Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts more times than I can count, but I still look forward to them each year. Christmas inspires composers to great artistic heights. I marvel at the amazing variety of music on the program every season, and the close connections between pieces written centuries apart. This year, we’re performing Claudio Monteverdi’s "Exultent caeli," in which Monteverdi uses a wide variety of musical resources both to dramatize the text and, very likely, to highlight the architectural elements of the performance space. Fast forward more than 400 years and we arrive at the last movement of Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata, "Gloria in excelsis Deo." Like Monteverdi, Pinkham uses the rhythm of the text as the basis for a dancelike melody, while “Gloria in excelsis Deo”—Glory to God in the highest—serves as an increasingly triumphant refrain. Two different people standing at very different points on the historical continuum, but writing with the same basic impulse—to bring the holidays to life.
These implicit connections between people are what fully awaken my holiday spirit. Getting out decorations, chopping down a tree, surreptitiously buying presents—they're all elements of my Christmas experience. But once I enter the beautiful spaces of Grace Lutheran, St. Michael’s, and Divine Word and hear this music—music that unites composers across time in a common artistic purpose, that brings together thousands of people in Chicago each year—the meaning of Christmas comes alive.
Join us for our 45th Anniversary Season Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts on December 17, 18, 19, and 20.