Nathan Kreitzer, founder and director of that precious resource for a-cappella choir music, Quire of Voyces, always puts together a dazzling and sublime program for the holidays. This year, the theme is the Christmas music from all the lands whose shores are washed by the Baltic Sea.
The apparent exceptions — Americans Rene Claussen and Steven Dombek — turn out to be, from their surnames, Danish and Polish, respectively. As for the Englishman, Will Todd, many a wave that rose mid-Baltic has broken on the northeast coast of Great Britain. That’s taking the generous view, of course, but it’s Christmas, after all.
These musicians who are related geographically also share, for the most part, a sound world. One imagines an unheated church, with the words hovering over the congregation in the crystallized breath of the choir.
One hears a cleansing wind sweeping across snow-covered uplands. One sees the heavenly voices drifting like mist through dense stands of dark green firs.
The best-known is certainly Arvo Pärt, and if you like Pärt, you will be well within your comfort zone throughout the concert.
The program will include, though perhaps not in this order:
The “Norwegian Alleluia” (2014) by Kim André Arnesen (b.1980, Norway); “My Lord Has Come” (2015) by Will Todd (b.1970, UK); “O Salutaris Hostias” and “Stars” by Ēriks Ešenvalds (b.1977, Latvia); “Three Latvian Carols” by Andrejs Jansons (b.1938, Latvia, USA); “Morning Star” (2007) and “The Deer’s Cry” (2007) by Arvo Pärt (b.1935, Estonia); “Abendlied” (1855) by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901, Liechtenstein, Germany); “Hodie” (2019) by Steven Dombek (b.1953, USA); the “Magnificat” (1988) by Rene Clausen (b.1953, USA); “Nunc Dimittis, Opus 34 No. 1” (1912) by Alexandre Grechaninov (1864-1956, Russia); and “Stay With Us” (1999) by Egil Hovland (1924-2013, Norway).
The Quire will perform A Baltic Christmas at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, and 3 p.m. Sunday Dec. 22, in the ideal venue of St. Anthony’s Chapel at the Garden Street Academy, 2300 Garden St.
Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 students and seniors, and you can get them at the door before the performances, by calling 805-965-5935, or at Chaucer’s Books until Dec. 20.
For more information on the music and composers, I refer you to Temmo Korisheli’s excellent, and detailed, program notes, which you can pick up as you enter the chapel.
The Quire will tour the Baltic States in June. If you are interested in joining them, you should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org