Season of Joy was a vivid description of the Reading Community Singers’ fall outing. Beth Mosier led the 70 member mixed chorus in a program of somber to sizzling selections related to the coming holidays. In addition to traditional carols of our Christmas festivities, an adaptation of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of three English carols was also sung.
In “Chanukah Prayer” for the Season of Light, the chorus was joined by flugelhorn soloist Mark Napierkowski.
“Hallelujah,” a choral movement from Handel’s larger work, “Messiah,” is a classical favorite at this time of year. As Mosier explained, even after 250 years some people will stand when this section of the piece is reached, harkening back to a performance when King George II of England decided to stand and stretch during the movement. Those of us who are traditionalists were on our feet in an instant, while the anti-royalists in the crowd, as well as those who think that two centuries of foolish celebration of an apocryphal event is enough, remained firmly seated.
The program moved from the sublime of Handel to the ridiculous of “Good King Kong Looked Out,” a work of Peter Schickele, composer, musicologist and outrageous alter ego of P.D.Q. Bach, the 21st of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 20 children. Bach/Schickele is known for his ludicrous lyrics and comical orchestrations, in this case including a contingent of kazoos which were excellently played (I think) by the chorus.
The middle of the concert was livened up by engaging the audience in singing familiar seasonal pop tunes, and everyone joyously decked the halls, warned kids not to cry or pout, remarked on Rudolph’s shiny nose, and jingle-bell rocked around the Christmas tree.
At halftime the audience was treated to a performance by Diva’s Daughters, a trio of conservatory-trained sopranos, Emily Bieber, Elizabeth Eyerer, and Sarah Morrow. Their crowd-pleasing set consisted of O Holy Night and White Christmas, plus, in a folk vein, numbers by Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul and Mary, and a current artist, Vienna Teng. The trio fulfills the mission of the Diva Day Foundation, a Cambridge-based organization that showcases artists to benefit women’s advocacy while addressing issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Daughters provide folk, bluegrass, and operatic music at community events to raise funds for local shelters and violence prevention initiatives.
Beth Mosier first encountered the Daughters while traveling between venues at Somerville’s Open Art Studios on a trolley where the group was singing. She engaged the group and their cause at the same time.
In Natalie Sleeth’s “Jazz Gloria,” the chorus was accompanied by a small combo led by accompanist Joe Beninati which supported the singers throughout the evening.
The concert ended with John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” a fine sentiment for any season. Selected members of each voice of the chorus were featured, and Geoff Lawton accompanied the singing on the guitar.
As Reading Community Singers gear up for the new year, they invite all lovers of song who can carry a tune to join them. For information visit their website www.readingcommunitysingers.org.