Commonwealth Chorale rehearsals to begin
Published 6:34 pm Sunday, September 3, 2023
- “Blessed Wonder Holy Joy,” title of this year’s series of Christmas concerts by the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia, spans the seasons of holiday style from the contemporary to the classic. Concerts will be held Dec. 3, at Clarksville Presbyterian Church located at 502 Virginia Ave. in Clarksville; Dec. 9 at Crewe United Methodist Church located at 607 E. Georgia Street in Crewe; and Dec. 10 at Farmville United Methodist Church located at 212 High Street in Farmville. All concerts will begin at 4 p.m.
“Our program showcases the ‘Magnificat’ (Song of Mary) by Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen,” Chorale Artistic Director Carol Henderson said. “’Magnificat,’ Arnesen’s first major work, was commissioned, premiered, and recorded in 2014 by the Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir in Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway.”
“Norway, where Arnesen’s ethereal ‘Magnificat’ was born, is a land of rocky cliffs and beautiful fjords where the sun sets a striking rhythm of life,” Henderson related. “In November the sun descends into a purple-grey dusk that deepens into weeks of total darkness.”
“The ‘Magnificat’ begins out of that murky twilight,” Henderson continued. “We hear an almost imperceptible hollow note from the organ, and then the cello begins its assent. The use of warm harmonies, jazz styling, and soaring melodies build a mesmerizing experience.”
That experience easily translates into the troubled world of today.
“Arnesen sees Mary’s Song as one of hope for all people struggling against adversity,” Henderson added.
The theme of “Blessed Wonder Holy Joy” continues with favorite choruses from Handel’s “Messiah.”
“This season’s concert also features a delightful mix including five Alfred Burt Carols (Set 2) composed in the 1940s and 50s and Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas,’” Henderson said.
Strings and flute, piano, and organ will provide accompaniment, and soloists will be featured during the performance.
The Chorales’ artistic director since 2019, Henderson received bachelor of music and master of music degrees from Westminster Choir College. She currently serves as minister of music at Clarksville Presbyterian Church.
“The Commonwealth Chorale is important to this community, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it,” Henderson commented. “I’m pleased to work with singers on music that promises to once again bring the joy and happiness of the Christmas season to our audiences.”
The Commonwealth Chorale, with membership representing all ages and musical backgrounds, includes singers from a many counties and towns across Southside Virginia.
Concerts (all at 4 p.m.) are free, and all are invited to attend.
Visit www.commonwealthchorale.org. for more information on the Commonwealth Chorale. Concert updates will also be posted on the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia Facebook page.
The Commonwealth Chorale in concert at Farmville United Methodist Church.
The Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia will begin a new season of rehearsals on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at Farmville Presbyterian Church.
With the Christmas season in mind, the Chorale will present three afternoon concerts on Dec. 3, 4 p.m. at Clarksville Presbyterian Church; Dec. 9, 4 p.m. at Crewe United Methodist Church; Dec. 10, 4 p.m. at Farmville United Methodist Church.
“I am very pleased to begin working with singers on music that promises to once again bring the joy and happiness of the Christmas season to our audiences,” Chorale Artistic Director Carol J. Henderson said.
This year’s concerts combine classical repertoire with contemporary Christmas favorites.
“In December’s concerts we’ll combine the delightful simplicity of the Baroque in Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with the soaring melodic lines of a more contemporary “Magnificat’ written in 1980 by Kim Andre´ Arensen,” Henderson noted. “A light-hearted touch will be added with five Alfred Burt Carols (set 2) written as Christmas cards for friends in the 1940s and 50s. The concerts will end with a touch of ‘White Christmas’ and the quintessential audience closer: Hallelujah Chorus from ‘Messiah.’”
The Chorale will be accompanied by a small ensemble: string quartet, string bass, oboe, flute, piano, and organ.
Henderson, artistic director since 2019, received her bachelor of music and master of music degrees from Westminster Choir College. She currently serves as minister of music at Clarksville Presbyterian Church.
A pianist, organist and choir director, Henderson loves choral music and sees her role as chorale director as another opportunity to share that love.
“The Commonwealth Chorale is important to this community, and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it,” she commented.
The Commonwealth Chorale was established by Norma Williams in 1975. Before coming to Farmville to teach voice at Longwood College, Williams led an illustrious career as leading soprano in opera houses across Europe and managed the Lincoln Opera in Chicago. She retired as the Chorale’s artistic director in 2019.
The Chorale’s membership, representing all ages and musical backgrounds, includes singers from many surrounding counties and towns.
“Come sing with us and become part of something beautiful,” Henderson concluded.
Local singers interested in joining the Chorale are invited to attend the September 12 rehearsal; auditions are not required.
For more information on the Commonwealth Chorale visit www.commonwealthchorale.org. Further information and concert updates will also be posted on the Commonwealth Chorale of Virginia Facebook page.