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Gerald Carpenter: Quire of Voyces to Reveal ‘Mysteries of Christmas’

SBCC ensemble will perform its holiday concert Sunday in the Garden Street Academy

SBCC’s elegant choral ensemble, Quire of Voyces, under the direction of founder Nathan Kreitzer, will present its perennially popular holiday concert, “Mysteries of Christmas,” at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Garden Street Academy, formerly St. Anthony’s Seminary Chapel, 2500 Garden St.

The concert is traditionally, as the Quire’s own handsome Web site truthfully says, “spirituality for the connoisseur.”

Aside from a medieval English carol, adapted by ageless chorister Temmo Korisheli, there are no pieces on the program by that versatile bard, Anonymous. Some four and a half centuries of composition take their place in this luxurious Christmas bouquet, by composers born as long ago as 1548 and as recently as 1978.

That is to say, we will hear one or more works by Richard Dering (1580-1630), Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), Richard Rodney Bennett (born in 1936), Tarik O’Regan (born in 1978), Richard Allain (born in 1965), John Rutter (born in 1945), Richard Nance (born in 1955), Peter Philips (1560-1628), Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), Michael Eglin (born in 1975) and Franz Biebl (1906-2001).

Let us confine our remarks to those composers who are still among us, of whom Rutter is the most widely known in the world of choral music. (Since the 18th century, England has proven the most amazing nursery of choral composers and, as a symbiotic necessity, choral ensembles.) Rutter attended Highgate School at the same time as another excellent vocal composer, John Tavener, and then went on to Clare College, Cambridge. He is very popular in the United States.

Although Englishman Bennett has written a great many instrumental and vocal compositions in the standard forms — three symphonies, five operas, etc. — he is better known for his film scores Far from the Madding Crowd, Nicholas and Alexandra, Murder on the Orient Express and Enchanted April than for anything else. Bennett is eclectic in his influences, being especially fond of jazz, although I suspect that’s not the reigning idiom in the two works the Quire will sing.

O’Regan is also English with a background that includes Algerian and Irish stock. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge, and composes music that is, according to one source, “mostly written in tonal, extended tonal and modal languages (or a combination of all three), often with complicated rhythmic effects and dense textural variation.” It will come as no surprise that Allain is an Englishman as well. He specializes in sacred choral music and works for children.

Nance is — ahem! — an American, or at least a Texan, and is an associate professor of music at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. Eglin is also an American, born in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He holds an advanced degree from UCSB, where he studied composition with Donald Bohlen, Joel Feigin and William Kraft, and early music with Alejandro Planchart — familiar names to you all, I hope. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and three children, and serves as composer in residence and assistant director for the Quire of Voyces.

Tickets to the “Mysteries of Christmas” are $20 for general admission, and $15 for students and seniors, and can be purchased from the Garvin Theater box office at 805.965.5935.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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