The Falmouth Chorale, led by Artistic Director John Yankee, invites the community to make music a part of their holiday celebrations. Performances of the Chorale’s always-popular holiday concert, this year “On Earth, Peace,” are scheduled for Saturday, December 8, at 1 PM (family-friendly) and 4 PM and Sunday, December 9, at 4 PM, all at First Congregational Church, 68 Main Street, Falmouth.
The festively decorated church on the Village Green provides the setting for a concert that celebrates the season with exquisitely arranged traditional carols and songs, intertwined with musical prayers for peace. The Falmouth Chorale will be joined by members of the Falmouth Academy Choruses, a string quartet, and pianist Stephanie Weaver.
The concert opens with the Falmouth Chorale Chamber Singers performing, a cappella, Magnum Nomen Domini, a 17th century polyphonic motet by Pekiel celebrating the birth of Christ. They follow with a contemporary arrangement of the well-loved carol Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.
The full Chorale will perform John Rutter’s setting of Here We Come A-Wassailing in which the chorus plays the role of house-to-house carolers as practiced in 19th century England—often by children and beggars who sang out wishes for love, joy and a happy New Year, in exchange for a bit of food and drink at a warm hearth.
The Chorale continues with a lovely arrangement of the Polish carol Infant Holy, Infant Lowly and selections from Oratorio de Noël by Camille Saint-Saëns, both telling the traditional Christmas story.
The second half of the concert begins with songs performed by young voices from the Falmouth Academy Choruses. The FA Men’s Chorus will present John McCutcheon’s Christmas in the Trenches, a haunting retelling of the unofficial Christmas truce between English and German soldiers on the front lines during World War I. The audience sing-along that follows echoes carols sung that night between the trenches.
Another highlight of the concert is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, an early 20th century work based on four folk carols collected in southern England by the composer. The performance features the Chorale’s own Sarah Sadler as mezzo-soprano soloist, with the Chorale, strings and organ.
And through it all, John Yankee has woven a remarkable variety of settings of the universal plea for peace. It takes many forms; among them are an a cappella round Da Pacem Cordium, Falmouth Academy’s Oseh Shalom, and the final arrangement of Dona Nobis Pacem—sung in English, Latin and Japanese by an eight-part chorus while others speak the word “peace” in languages from around the globe.
Again, this year, the Chorale offers a family-friendly version of the concert at 1 PM on Saturday, December 8. This shorter, more informal performance includes some selections from the full-length concert but also features introductions from the conductor and a favorite piece for children of all ages, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This musical version of the famous poem is enhanced by pantomime performed by two of the Chorale’s youngest singers, Kelly Gototweski and Alexis Tidey, and a visit from Santa Claus.
These popular holiday concerts often sell out. Concert goers are urged to buy their tickets early and to consider giving the gift of tickets to friends and family. Tickets are available in advance for $25 at www.falmouthchorale.org, from Chorale members or at the usual outlets: Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth, Uncle Bill’s Country Store in North Falmouth, Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons and Titcomb’s Book Shop in East Sandwich. Student tickets are $5. Tickets at the door are $30.