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San Jose Symphonic Choir Season Opener


The San Jose Symphonic Choir (SJSC), conducted by Music Director Leroy Kromm, will present its first concert of the 2017-2018 season on Dec. 2, at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 13601 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga, at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will feature Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Christmas cantata Hodie, or This Day, and other music of the holiday season. The choir will be accompanied by Nova Vista Symphony and Vivace Youth Chorus of San Jose. Tickets are: General, $30 in advance, $35 at the door, Seniors/Students/Military $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and are available through Brown Paper Tickets. Visit the Choir’s website,
www.sanjosesymphonicchoir.org for a direct link to tickets and more information.

Hodie, or This Day, is a nativity cantata, written in 1953 by the venerable English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. It was his last work for chorus and orchestra, and he incorporated a lifetime of experience and styles into its composition. Exemplifying his belief that the voice “can be made the medium of the best and deepest human emotion,” this wonderful piece provides a moving journey through moods light and dark, somber and joyful. The composer’s skillful reiteration of key musical phrases paints a musical picture that is enhanced by the poignant lyrics.

Overall, the piece alternates between narrative from the Scriptures, telling the story of the Nativity, and other prose or poetry that embroiders the narrative theme. Vaughan Williams gave the narrative portions to a childrens’ chorus, evoking an angels’ choir. A wonderful example is the story of the Three Kings: the story told by the children, followed by a stirring march, sung by the soloists who voice the kings, and the choir, which creates the mood of their movement under the Star, back and forth from faraway lands. Many lovely moments stand out in the work: the solo baritone’s aria setting Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Oxen,” a song of quiet longing for a gentler past; Mary’s sweetly introspective lullaby to the Babe, sung by soprano and women’s chorus; and the sparkling, joyful conclusion all combine to provide a stirring portrait of a familiar and beloved story.

Vaughan Williams was one of the premier gatherers of English folk songs and used them extensively in his work. He was familiar with ancient chant and plainsong, as well as peasant tunes and court music. He was also a great reader and used verse and prose from many authors in his compositions. Hodie includes text from the Bible, and from poets Thomas Hardy (19th century), John Milton (17th century), and his wife Ursula, (20th century).

More Holiday Performances
Following its season opener, San Jose Symphonic Choir will present its festive annual treat, the You-Sing-It Messiah, on Dec. 4 at the beautiful California Theatre in downtown San Jose. For nearly 40 years, SJSC has enjoyed sharing the festive spirit of the holiday season. The evening begins with carols in the theatre’s ornate, art deco lobby, beautifully sung by Vivace Youth Chorus of San Jose, under the direction of Peggy Spool. SJSC’s own Maestro Leroy Kromm then leads the San Jose Baroque Orchestra and the entire audience in singing Handel’s beloved masterpiece. Tickets are available through Symphony Silicon Valley Box Office, (408) 286-2600, x23, or jmeyers@symphonysiliconvalley.org.

On Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., the choir offers the first of two free community concerts at Saint Francis Xavier Church, 1475 LaSalle Ave., Seaside, at 7:30 p.m. This evening of seasonal music will help set the mood for celebrating Christmas! Freewill donations will be gratefully accepted to help on-going recovery efforts from the recent earthquake in Mexico.

On Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m., the choir will perform as part of the Season of Hope program at the Cathedral Basilica of San Jose, 80 South Market Street, San Jose. This free concert is part of an annual performance series, made possible through a collaboration between local arts organizations and Saint Joseph’s Office of Social Ministry. SJSC will offer an oasis of calm in downtown San Jose, featuring the beauty and serenity of choral music of the season. Freewill donations provide food, shelter, medical care, and assistance with job searching to those in need in our community.

For more information contact San Jose Symphonic Choir: (408) 995-3318, or info@sanjosesymphonicchoir.org.