January 18, 2010
The pre-Christmas snowstorm forced the cancellation of a number of holiday concerts and festivities; some were rescheduled after the holidays, extending the holiday entertainment season this year. One such concert was “Noel, Noel! A French Christmas,” the debut concert by a new Falmouth a cappella choir, Cantus Novus, which is directed by Gisela Tillier.
The chorus had two concerts scheduled for the weekend before Christmas. The first went off without a hitch on Saturday, December 19. Though snow had been predicted to begin that evening, the concert organizers correctly guessed that the snow would not really begin to fall until after concert-goers were safely home. Though I had planned to attend, I was more intimidated by the impending snow and stayed home, thinking I would attend the afternoon concert on Sunday, December 20. The concert was not scheduled until 4 PM, and I figured that all the snowplows would have made their rounds by then.
It was not to be. The snow was deep and snarled a lot of holiday plans. I did not even get my own car dug out until the next day, Monday, late in the morning. The second Cantus Novus concert was canceled, and I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to hearing this new a cappella group, especially since I knew they were singing “Il Est Né, le Divin Enfant” one of my favorite Christmas carols, which I thought would be particularly fine sung by a chorus.
After their original decision not to reschedule because it would have to be after Christmas, Cantus Novus did reschedule, for yesterday afternoon, January 17, deciding that the local audience would still appreciate a Christmas concert almost a month after the holidays, that Christmas cheer would warm even a cold January night.
I was happy to attend. For me, and for many others, the month or so leading up to the Christmas holidays is a blur of activity. Though we complain, every year, about signs of the holiday season arriving earlier and earlier, with holiday displays even before Halloween in some stores, it always seems that there is not enough time for the things that matter: unhurried time with friends and family; personal celebrations, whether spiritual or secular; and enjoying the music of the season, sung or played properly and enjoyed without distraction, not just drifting overhead as we frantically shop.
Perhaps because I resist the early arrival of Christmas, it often seems to me that the season is actually too short. Christmas concerts begin in November and there are so many, it is simply impossible to attend them all. Most are over two weeks before Christmas, no doubt to give all the local amateur singers and musicians time off during the holidays. So, just when I am ready to celebrate the holidays, the concert season is over, and, all too soon, it is time to ring in the new year and go on with our normal, non-festive lives.
So, it was a pleasure to attend yesterday’s Christmas concert, to finally hear the carol that had been in my head for the last month, “Il Est Né,” even though we are well into the new year. The audience in the small and intimate St. Joseph’s Church in Woods Hole apparently agreed. Cantus Novus had eliminated the sing-along portion of the program (“Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night,” and “Deck the Hall”), thinking we, the audience, would not want to sing Christmas carols so long after the holiday. I was disappointed–all that beautiful singing does inspire one to vocalize–and several people in the audience complained, in a good-natured way, that they wanted to sing too.
It is a singing-kind-of-town! We are blessed with a multitude of fine amateur choral and instrumental music groups in Falmouth and the rest of the Cape. Cantus Novus is a wonderful addition to the mix; they will soon begin rehearsing for their spring concert, and I am pretty sure there will be a sing-along.