Two longstanding Bend choirs, Central Oregon Mastersingers and Youth Choir of Central Oregon, will gather this weekend for the holiday concert “A Family Christmas.”
Each choir boasts 53 voices. If you’re familiar with the size and fine acoustics of the Tower Theatre, where the choirs will perform Saturday and Sunday in Bend (see “If you go”), you might well imagine the glorious sound 106 voices will emit when the choirs join forces, which they will for the last portion of the concert.
The collaboration did not come together because each group happens to contain 53 members. Nor did it happen because both choirs are celebrating significant anniversaries this season, said Mastersingers founder and director Clyde Thompson. Discussing a conversation with YCCO founder and director Beth Basham, Thompson said, laughing, “Neither of us had really thought about the fact that this is the 10th anniversary for Mastersingers and 25th anniversary for the youth choir. So that’s kind of neat. I mean, that’s quite a coincidence.”
No, this concert came about, in a roundabout way, because Basham loves Norway.
Let’s have her explain.
“I’ve always had a dream to go to Norway, and I went this summer. Before I went, I realized that the St. Olaf Choir, from Minnesota, was doing a special on PBS and singing in the cathedral in Trondheim,” Basham told GO! Magazine, referring to the central Norway city’s Nidaros Cathedral. “I watched it and was just overwhelmed with the beauty of the music and the cathedral and the college people singing with this beautiful girls choir … (from) the cathedral. So I thought, ‘Wow, we could do that.’”
She approached friend and colleague Thompson, and the rest is history, or will be in a few days.
The Mastersingers will perform first, opening the concert with British composer David Willcocks’ “Birthday Carol.” It will be followed with works by composers Richard Dering, Alfred Burt, Bernard Flies and Thompson himself (“There is No Rose”).
The first portion of the program also features “Estampie Natalis,” “a contemporary piece by Vaclav Nelhybel that is a wild, unique piece,” Thompson said.
“It has a Medieval sound, combined with some flavor of a Middle Eastern dervish dance. Very fun.” He added that members of the Central Oregon Symphony will play on that piece, including Janet Gesme (viola), Travis Allen (cello), Larry Meyers and Cheri Redgrave (percussion).
The other big piece before intermission is Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” which Thompson described as “absolutely gorgeous. It’s become a modern-day classic in the choral literature.”
After intermission, the Premiere Choir of Youth Choir of Central Oregon will open things back up with songs including “Good King Wenceslas,” “La Bonne Nouvelle,” “All on a Cold Winter’s Night” and “Children Go Where I Send Thee.”
The Mastersingers will then return for another set of tunes including “Joy to the World” and “I Saw Three Ships,” wrapping up their second set with a Hanukkah song, “Hanerot Halalu.”
Finally, both groups will join together for some familiar carols, including “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
“Three of the numbers will also involve the audience singing along, so it will end with audience participation,” Thompson said. “Oftentimes, after our Christmas concerts, people will say, ‘That was wonderful, but, oh, I’d love to hear just more of my favorite Christmas music.’ So this is their chance to hear more of their favorite Christmas music.”
The two choirs have performed together once before, in 2007.
“Beth does fantastic work. She has one of the top youth choir organizations in the country,” Thompson said. In honor of its silver anniversary, the YCCO will hold a special concert at Bend High School in May, with slideshows and YCCO alumni performing, Basham said.
The Mastersingers also plan to make this season special, Thompson said, noting that collaboration will be a theme.
“We’re going to be doing several school visits (in March), collaborating with the high school choirs in Bend, taking part in their concerts with them, and doing a lot of school visitations with small groups from the Mastersingers at choir rehearsals, just as a way of supporting and nurturing good choral singing among young people,” he said.
Basham said that for the kids she works with, performances with the Mastersingers present “a good opportunity for us to see that you can continue to sing into your adulthood, and make beautiful music and get a lot of enjoyment out of it as an adult. So it’s a great example.
“The people in the Mastersingers are very professional, and they love to mentor our kids,” she continued. “They are such good examples for us to hear and to have our young people see what you can do with music at a deeper level.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0349, email@example.com