January 23, 2018

‘Con Brio’ Presents its Christmas Concert in Old Lyme This Evening, Tomorrow

Danielle Munsell Howard is the soprano at the Con Brio Christmas Concerts this weekend.

Con Brio presents two performances of its acclaimed Christmas Concert this weekend on Saturday evening, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m., both at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme.

Imagine sitting in the center of the bright, high-ceilinged space of Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. The music begins. First from behind you. Then to your left, your right, up in front. It is surround-sound live – provided by the voices of the Con Brio Choral Society arrayed around the great space.

As each of 19 – yes, nineteen! –  parts begin to sing, the sound moves from place to place, the voices echoing one another, harmonizing and weaving a musical fabric that envelopes you.

It’s not like any other Christmas concert you have ever attended … unless you have been to one of Con Brio’s Christmas Concerts before. Attend one of this year’s concerts and experience a musical treat to calm your mind and move you into the Christmas spirit.

Under the baton of Dr. Stephen D. Bruce, Con Brio will perform with the professional 31-piece Con Brio Festival Orchestra, and soprano soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, acclaimed by Opera News Online for her “bright, pretty timbre and remarkable facility.”

Con Brio has sung many Magnificats over the years but Rutter’s setting manages to maintain the traditional approach to the well-known text while infusing it with lush contemporary harmonies and textures. Soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, has a voice well-suited to expressing the wonderment of Mary. The choral movements range from the delicacy of Esurientes (The poor) through the power of Fecit potentiam (He has shown strength) to the thrill of the Gloria Patri.

Stunning is the word often used to describe Morten Lauridsen’s Sure on This Shining Night. Its glistening harmonies and melodies so clearly express poet James Agee’s text and the magic of a December night. In 2007, two years after this piece was composed, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Lauridsen the National Medal of the Arts, the highest artistic award in the United States.

Two pieces will be sung in the round—now a Con Brio tradition. The chorus loves to take advantage of the spacious and acoustically exceptional sanctuary of Christ the King Church. First will be the a cappella, eight-part, antiphonal motet, In Dulci Jubilo, by 15th century composer Michael Praetorious. That will be followed by the 19-voice Buccinate (Blow the trumpet), by Giovanni Gabrieli.

Other pieces include Fum Fum Fum in a playful arrangement by Mack Wilberg; Pietro Yon’s familiar Gesu Bambino which will feature the soprano soloist; Still, Still, Still in a special arrangement for chorus and harp; perennial favorite Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose); Hodie Christus natus est (Today Christ is born) is one of the greatest renaissance motets; and Claude Debussy’s spritely and expressive Yver, vous n’estes qu’un villain (Winter, you are nothing but a villain).

Also, Con Brio will perform a rousing arrangement of the famous spiritual, Go Where I Send Thee. The concert will close with Stephen Mager’s wonderful arrangement of Ding Dong Merrily on High, which starts with a simple rendition of the familiar melody, accompanied by winds, and slowly transforms it into a thrilling finale featuring the full orchestra.

As always, each Christmas concert will include carols for audience participation.

Con Brio, over 70 voices strong, is the Shoreline’s auditioned chorus, known for the variety of its repertoire, and the strength of its programming and musical skills. Since it was founded in 1997, Con Brio has performed regularly to a growing and loyal local audience. Singers hail from more than 15 towns: from East Haven to Mystic and from Old Saybrook to Moodus. The choir has made six overseas concert tours, with the most recent to Portugal and Spain in 2016. The seventh will be to Slovenia and Croatia in May/June 2018.

Follow Con Brio on Facebook @conbriochoral or visit www.conbrio.org

Tickets are $30 each, $15 for students. Purchase them in advance online; major credit cards are accepted.

For more information, call 860-526-5399.

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