Columbia choirs blend with MU School of Music to recreate Saint Nicholas historical concert
Ph.D. candidate Aaron Wacker: “After these hard previous weeks, it’s inspiring to see the community here playing beautiful music.”
Nov. 20, 2015
The musical performance of the life of St. Nicholas was put on at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in Jesse Auditorium by the MU School of Music University Concert Series.
This holiday concert featured the University Choral Union, the University Singers, the Columbia Youth Choirs Girls’ Choir and the University Philharmonic Orchestra. The Saint Nicolas cantata, written for orchestra and choir by English composer Benjamin Britten in 1948, portrays the story of St. Nicholas.
Director of Choral Activities Paul Crabb conducted the Saint Nicolas cantata. Crabb described this cantata as a groundbreaking historical event at the time of its release in England, and smiled as he revealed the audience’s role in the performance.
“There is a relationship here between the audience and our performers,” Crabb said. “Look at the page, the end of the fifth movement.”
The audience then fumbled through pages as Crabb waved his baton. He pointed out that the audience would have to sing in order to truly experience this piece.
“Yes, that’s you,” Crabb said. “You’re going to sing along. We’re trying to recreate that first performance, that same atmosphere that Britten envisioned.”
Each movement swept the audience into the stories that gave St. Nicholas his sainthood, including when he would fill the shoes of poor children with coins. The concert program provided a historical overview about Saint Nicholas that today is often forgotten, as St. Nicholas is typically overshadowed by Santa Claus.
Aaron Wacker, music education doctoral student, felt that that after a few tense weeks, he loved seeing musicians from all ages come together. There was a warmth in Jesse Auditorium, he said.
“It’s the older choir community with our younger children’s choirs and our students, and that’s one of my favorite things,” Wacker said. “After these hard previous weeks, it’s inspiring to see the community here playing beautiful music.”
Composer Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, another three-movement cantata played during the concert, was also performed through the mixed voices of choir and orchestra as well. University Singers member Lauren Wrigley performed in the choir, which collaborated with the Choral Union for this concert.
“I really enjoyed singing the second piece, Gloria, which is more upbeat,” Wrigley said. “I liked getting to sing with other people from the Columbia community.”