St. James Cathedral
804 Ninth Ave, Seattle
$18 in advance ($20 at the door)
Opus 7’s December concert celebrates the anticipation of the arrival of the Christ Child as a light in our dark world. The program begins with a joyful announcement of the birth of “Gode’s son” in Wishart’s “Alleluya, a new work is come on hand.” Hovland’s “The Glory of the Father” continues the theme of light and grace from the profound words of John’s gospel, but hints at a darkness to come: “He came to His own, but His own received Him not.” The popular Coventry Carol, in a dramatic setting by Stephen Brozovich, describes King Herod’s evil plan to murder all male children in Bethlehem in his attempt to kill the Christ Child. As if in response to Herod’s rage and its tragic consequences, the text of John Muehleisen’s “O Rising Dawn” describes humanity’s plea for a light to dispel the “shadow of death.”
Immediately following “O Rising Dawn,” Muehleisen’s Consolation (Requiem for Newtown) draws the sense of tragedy described in Coventry Carol into the present day on the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Rather than dwelling on the tragic nature of that event, Consolation explores the themes of compassion and love as an antidote to tragedy, and addresses our need to mourn, honor, and remember the lost while giving comfort and hope to the survivors. While Consolation starts in darkness, it ends with the piercing brilliance of that long-yearned-for light and a picture of heaven. Closing the first half of the program, John Tavener’s “God is with us” sets the familiar text from Isaiah used by Handel in the first part of Messiah: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. The people that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined…”
The entire second half of the program is comprised of Benjamin Britten’s “A Boy Was Born,” which views the complex aspects of the human condition explored in the first half of the concert through the prism of primarily 15th- and 16th-century English poems that provide a unique perspective on the Christmas story. Through the performance of Britten’s 25-minute choral masterpiece, Opus 7 joins choirs throughout the world in bringing to a close the year-long centennial celebration of Britten’s birth in 1913.
Opus 7 is honored to be joined by St. James Cathedral’s young women’s ensemble Jubilate! and organist Dr. Clint Kraus. Opus 7 is proud to be a resident ensemble at St. James Cathedral.