From the Director

DeLyser.conducting2In an ordinary year, we would now be finishing up preparation for our December concert (performed twice).  This is not a bad thing, as a certain amount of ordinary is needed in order to judge what is then an extraordinary year.  This is definitely an extraordinary year.  For we are now in final preparations for not one, but five performances of two different December concerts, both of which involve new ventures and adventures for the Choral Arts Ensemble.

At 8:00 PM on December 1st, we will perform in the Chapel at the Portland Grotto as part of the Christmas Festival of Lights.  We are very excited to be singing in this amazing venue and to be a part of this wonderful holiday experience, and we hope you will come out and enjoy both the festival and our music as you wrap up the holiday weekend.  There is an admission charge to the festival itself, but once inside, all of the concerts are free.  We will be performing seasonal music taken from our last few December (and other) concerts, including O Nata Lux from Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and Ola Gjeilo’s sublime arrangements of The First Nowell and the Holly and the Ivy.  Too often we work and work on music, perform it twice, and then put it away, and there is always a bit of sadness in that process after having spent so much time with it.  So we are very happy to be singing this amazing music again so soon!  Parts of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols will reappear, which is only fitting, as just days ago the classical music world celebrated the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth.  The famous Christmas text, O Magnum Mysterium will be presented in arrangements by both Lauridsen and Renaissance composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria.  We’ll end a bit playfully with Vaughan Williams’ Wassail Song.

And this is just the beginning of our extraordinary December.  For in addition to preparing the Grotto set, we have also been preparing all of the choruses from Handel’s Messiah in anticipation of our four Messiah concerts with the Portland Chamber Orchestra.  In addition to preparing the music, we are also preparing ourselves for one of the most intensive “choral” weeks any of us has had – 2 rehearsals and 4 concerts of Messiah in 7 days.  These concerts will find us at churches in Gresham and Hillsboro, and at Lewis and Clark Chapel – all new venues for us.  The holiday season and Messiah have become intrinsically linked, and we are happy to be able to present this most glorious of works to audiences all across (literally) the metro area.  As always, concert details and ticket information are available on our web site.

So let’s recap – 5 performances of 2 complete and different sets of concert repertoire in 4 completely new venues, none of which we will even see the inside of until concert night (requiring of us some rather “on the fly” adjustments to new acoustics).  It will not be a boring December.  But, we are musicians.  This is what we do.  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Of course, this also brings up a rather salient question:  What in the world are we going to do NEXT December?

All of us here at CAE wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, and we hope to see you at the concerts!

-David De Lyser