On Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3 p.m., the St. James Festival Choir will present its annual Christmas Concert at St James Episcopal Church in Montross. The program will feature the short, but beautiful “A Ceremony of Carols” by the twentieth century British composer, Benjamin Britten.
The work was written in 1942, for female voices and harp, but it became so popular in England, and the United States, that Britten’s publisher insisted that he create a version for mixed chorus and piano. This is the version to be performed by the St. James Festival Choir, in this concert. The second part of the program will feature arrangements and compositions of Christmas carols and anthems by two Episcopal Church musicians, Lindsay Lafford, and Robert J. Powell.
Lindsay, who lives in Tempe, Arizona, has been the Guest Conductor of the St. James Festival Choir, at least once a year since April of 2000. Robert J. Powell, one of the composers whose service music appears in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal, just recently retired, as Choirmaster and Organist, at Christ Church School and Cathedral, in Greenville, South Carolina. The next section of the program will feature a cappella arrangements of English and German, Advent and Christmas Carols, that the St James Festival Choir has presented over the last thirty three years.
The featured soloist will be soprano, Larisa Filipenco, who now resides in the Boston area, but lived in Montross from 1981 to 1986. Larisa has been singing with the Festival Choir at most of the concerts since 1981. She will sing three Ukrainian Carols, as well as “Rejoice, Greatly O Daughter of Zion”, and “Come Unto Him”, from the Messiah by G.F. Handel. Larisa will also sing the beloved “O Holy Night”. The concert will also feature the joyous “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Messiah. Ben Cox will be the pianist and organist, as he has been for the last twenty years.
Two friends of the St. James Festival Choir from Northern Virginia, will be returning to Montross for this concert. One of the original members of the Choir, Galen Boyer who grew up in Montross, and graduated from Washington and Lee High School, will be returning home with his family from Newton, Massachusetts, to solidify the bass section, as he has done for most of the last thirty three years.
All lovers of great music are welcome, and please call Donald Boyer, music director at St. James 493-9721, or the Reverend Alan Hooker, Rector of St. James, 493-8285 if there are any questions.