Dec 9, 2012
A Festive Christmas!
Ring out the bells, Christmas music is in the air! The Madison Area Concert Handbells ringers are rehearsing festive holiday music, both sacred and secular, that they will present in three delightful Christmas concerts: Sunday, December 9th at 3 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 5700 Pheasant Hill Road, Madison and Friday and Saturday, December 14th and 15th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Middleton Performing Arts Center in Middleton High School.
The first half of the program will highlight the events of the first Christmas, starting with a multi-metered arrangement of a tune by Louis Bourgeois that morphs into a flowing rendition of Handel’s Comfort Ye My People, enhanced by retired Madison Symphony member Betty Bielefeld playing the flute. A 9th century plainsong and Nicolai’s O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright are then woven together in a fascinating piece by the internationally renowned handbell composer, Fred Gramann, called Everlasting Light. The choir’s six plus octaves of handbells and seven octaves of enormous bass chimes will add depth and excitement to this piece. Next, two soloists, Carrie Ingebritsen, whose lovely voice has graced many MACH concerts, and Afi Dobbins, a newcomer to our concerts, whose energy and vocal talents will impress you, share the sentiments of Natalie Sleeth’s beautiful Were You There on that Christmas Night?
A joyful Noel, Noel follows with the tune Angels We Have Heard on High announcing the good news to the shepherds. A reverent mood is then presented by the beloved pieces O Holy Night and Gesu Bambino as they occur both separately and together, enhanced by the artful keyboard work of guest artist Mark Brampton Smith. The bright and cheerful Catalonian Carol perks along with a tambourine accompaniment and then A Carol Fantasy, again by Fred Gramann, weaves Away in a Manger, The First Nowell, and The Holly and the Ivy in a fascinating confluence of these carols. To close the first half of our program, you, the audience, will join the bells in a medley of five carols designed to keep you humming through intermission!
Afi Dobbins and several percussion instruments open the second half of the program with an African Noel as our ringers mallet their bells, adding to the rhythmic persistence. A lively Pat a Pan follows with scale-like passages tumbling over one another and then The Parade of the Tin Soldiers will keep your feet tapping. Our salute to the ever popular Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky will include four of its tunes, concluding with the energetic Trepak, and then a popular Christmas toy from days past will be recognized in Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday. Our vocal soloists return with Go, Tell It on the Mountain, and once again, the audience is invited to participate. Joel Raney’s setting of We Three Kings follows, with keyboard and percussion parts adding Middle Eastern atmosphere and pizzazz. Our concert concludes with the famous old French tune borrowed by Bizet in his L’Arlesienne Suite. It is The March of the Kings and takes us on their journey over desert dunes until they reach their goal in a whirlwind finish.
MACH, founded in 1997, is celebrating its fifteenth Christmas concert this year. As in the past, brief introductions to the pieces will provide historical context and/or information about special effects executed by the bells and chimes. Audience members have said that our concerts really put them in the Christmas spirit; they’re full of joy, playfulness, and fun! We hope you will have the same feelings after attending this year’s concert, appropriately titled A Festive Christmas!
|Cost||$At the door: 15 Adult, 12 Senior/College Student (16 and under)|
St. Stephen's Lutheran Church
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Madison Area Concert Handbells
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