The group has been singing in Christmas since 2005 and will debut in Newtyle Parish Church on Thursday December 18 at 7.30pm. A further concert will be given in the Kirriemuir Old Parish Church on Sunday
December 21 at the earlier time of 6pm.
This year’s programme of Advent and Christmas music brings together pieces from across the ages and across Europe.
Five musical sets are interspersed with congregational carols and readings and the opening set includes the ‘Ave Maria’ by Robert Parsons, thought to have influenced William Byrd, who was born in Exeter, worked in Lincoln Cathedral and died at Newark in 1570.
‘Dixit Maria’ by the German born Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) was written for the Feast of the Annunciation and, with its attractive and clear counterpoint, has a celebratory feel to it.
James MacMillan is undoubtedly one of the leading Scottish composers of the 21st century and his Antiphon for 21 December, ‘O Radiant Dawn’, is one of his Strathclyde Motets several of which were
written for the choir of his church in Glasgow. As well as being great fun to sing, the Antiphon for 21 December will actually be sung on 21 December.
William Byrd, one of the great names of Tudor music, is represented both by his ‘Lullaby, My Sweet Little Baby’, which has a middle section referring to the slaughter of the Innocents in suitably anguished tones and also ‘Haec Dies’ a wonderfully exuberant piece for a feast day with contrasting contrapuntal and chordal sections and some unexpected cross rhythms.
More recent carols include a setting of ‘Adam Lay Ybounden’ by Philip Ledger who was director of music at Kings’ College, Cambridge and the ‘Shepherd’s Carol’ by Bob Chilcott, another singer and
composer with Kings connections.
‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ is perhaps one of the best loved of all carols and this setting by Harold Darke is always a favourite. William Walton’s ‘What Cheer’ is less well known but is a lively and rhythmic piece with a modern feel although the words are 16th century. The programme finishes with David Willcocks’ marvellous arrangement of ‘Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day’, which captures the joyous mood of the Christmas period.
Entry is by silver collection and the Kirriemuir concert will be followed by a cheery feast of mulled wine and mince pies provided by the choir.
Find out more about the choir at www.strathmoresingers.co.uk