It’s been 10 years since the Pilgrim Festival Chorus has performed a holiday seasonal classic composed by one of the last century’s recognized musical giants, Benjamin Britten. The piece is “Ceremony of Carols,” and it will be joined by similarly well-loved works by John Rutter and Conrad Susa in a Christmas season program to be performed this coming weekend. Titled “Christmas Joy: Works of Britten, Rutter, and Susa,” the concert will be performed by the Plymouth-based community chorus on Friday and Saturday evening, Dec. 1 and 2, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 3, 4 p.m. Performances will take place at St. Bonaventure Parish, 803 State Road, in Manomet.
“The program is really wonderful,” said William Richter, who shares the role of artistic director with accompanist Elizabeth Chapman Reilly. “Not only because it crosses different styles. It also uses various languages – old English, Spanish and Latin.”
Britten, whose works are generally regarded as examples of the modernist school of classical music, composed “Ceremony of Carols,” a composition with a common touch, in the war year of 1942 on board a ship crossing the Atlantic from England to the United States.
The choral piece is composed in variety of styles, Richter said. While some of the songs are inspired by traditional hymns, some with roots going back to the Middle Ages, at other points “you could think it’s rock ‘n roll,” Richter said, “very, very rhythmic.” An example is the chanted Latin phrase “Deo Gracias,” the Latin origin of the still common liturgical refrain “Thanks be to God.”
Other “Ceremony” songs have ordinary English lyrics, such as “This Little Babe,” based on a 16th century poem. It includes rhymes like “This little babe so few days old/ Is come to rifle Satan’s fold.”
According to the chorus’s concert program, contemporary English composer John Rutter is regarded as “a reinventor of the Christmas carol.” His songs are widely performed around the world. The chorus will sing “Dancing Day,” Rutter’s collection of English carols arranged for women’s voices.
Shorter works by Rutter such as such as “The Lord bless you and keep you,” “For the beauty of the earth,” “Look at the world,” and his setting of the traditional favorite “All things bright and beautiful” have become standards. In addition to composing his own songs, Rutter has arranged many traditional Christmas carols.
His composition “Dancing Day” includes the stirring Latin chant “Personent Hodie,” and the more familiar carols “There Is No Rose” and “Coventry Carol.” The work concludes with the infectiously popular and widely performed “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.”
The chorus will also perform “Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest,” written in 1992 by American composer Conrad Susa, born in 1935. The work consists of 10 of the mostly highly regarded carols of the Spanish-speaking world, artfully arranged to be performed as a suite.
Fortunately, Richter said, for a chorus such as the Pilgrim Festival Chorus, which includes both women and men, Susa wrote separate arrangements for men’s and women’s voices. The version the chorus will perform is scored for both.
The titles and the full lyrics for Susa’s composition are included in the concert’s highly useful program, available to the audience. The lyrics are given in both Spanish and English. Lyrics for the program’s two other works also appear in the program.
Richter also pointed to the instrumental richness of this year’s holiday concert. In the “Christmas Joy” program, he said “the chorus mingles its voices with harp, marimba, and guitar in Conrad Susa’s wonderful collection of Spanish carols.”
Tickets for the “Christmas Joy” concert are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, and $15 for students over 14. Children ages 14 and under are admitted free. Tickets are available at pilgrimfestivalchorus.org/tickets, from chorus members, and at the door.
Founded in 1999 and now consisting of close to 90 adult singers from 18 regional communities, the Pilgrim Festival Chorus will also present its annual “Messiah Sing” held on Friday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m., in Middleborough’s First Congregational at the Green.
Also coming up:
Mon., Nov. 27
James Montgomery, who got his start (as a Boston University student) touring with Janis Joplin and playing the harmonica, has for decades fronted The James Montgomery Blues Band. The band will perform at The Spire Center, 25 ½ Court St. from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $34. Visit spirecenter.org.
Uva Wine Bar, at 46 Main St., hosts a Hand-Dipped Ornaments Workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. Participants can choose their own colors and create a set of four glass ornaments for the holiday season. For tickets, go to uvawineplymouth.com.
Tues., Nov. 28
Plymouth Public Library invites parents and babies from infancy to 18 months to “Books and Babies” from 11 to 11:30 a.m. It’s never too soon to start learning how to read. Or, as the library puts it, theprogram “engages babies and their caregivers in 30 minutes of stories, bounces, fingerplays, and songs.” Disguised as a fun way to spend time with your baby in a group setting, the program actually “introduces and expands on early literacy practices that will help your baby get ready to read.”
Also on Nov. 28, the library’s Chess Club welcomes chess players of all levels to its gatherings from 6 to 8 p.m. Matches take place in the Nook Road study room areas in the main library. Even if you don’t know the difference between the queen and a bishop, don’t worry – you won’t get rooked. Experienced chess instructor Bill Petrillo and volunteer Jim Pritchard provide guidance to beginners.
And Plymouth G Pub, located at 101 Carver Road, offers free comedy with comedian Mike Murray & Friends in the pub’s taproom, beginning at 7 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 29
Inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s Junto club, the Plymouth Library’s Philosophy Group takes on a different philosophical question each week, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the library’s craft room. The group’s aims are merely self-improvement and world betterment – no big deal. Discussions are casual, the library says, with no judgments made.
Thurs., Nov. 30
Plymouth Public Library offers an online talk by award-winning author Naomi Alderman at 4 p.m. Participants are invited to take part in a discussion of her new book, “The Future.” Alderman is the author of “The Power,” judged one of the best books of the year 2017 by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Barack Obama (everybody remember him?). In her new book, a group of friends try to stop a world takeover by tech giants. Register by calling the library at 508-830-4250 to participate in the discussion.
The League of Women Voters is sponsoring “an evening” with Plymouth town manager Derek Brindisi, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Great Hall at Town Hall. Brindisi is expected to talk about what town government is doing, as well as the challenges facing Plymouth. The public is invited to come listen and to ask questions. Afterward, the league will host a social in the same room.
The annual holiday tree lighting festivities always draw an energetic and large crowd to downtown Plymouth. Besides the lighting itself, there will be a lot going on, including live music, arts and crafts, hay rides, face painting, the popular Winter Lights 5k road race, and – naturally – an appearance by Santa Claus.
With Main Street closed to vehicles and most stores open, it’s also an ideal time to do some Christmas shopping that doesn’t involve boxes plastered with the Amazon logo.
The weather forecast as of now is sketchy – it calls for mild temperatures but a good chance of rain – but even in a worst-case scenario, you can always duck inside a restaurant or bar (sans the little ones) for a hot drink or cold brew.
The event starts at 4:30 p.m. and goes until 8:30, with the road race set to step off at 6:15. (Registration is still open online.)
The tree lighting is one of those rare events that exudes a true sense of community in a world dominated by screens and too-busy schedules. It also makes us wonder what downtown might be like if there were more such special occasions throughout the year. More details are here.
Fri., Dec. 1
Per the discussion above, the Pilgrim Festival Chorus debuts this year’s Holiday Classic Concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. at St. Bonaventure Parish, 803 State Road in Manomet.
And in Carver the Edaville Festival of Lights, a train ride through a holiday light show, takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. See the website for ticket prices and details.
Sat., Dec. 2
Pilgrim Hall Museum’s annual Holiday House Tour & Christmas Tea invites participants to a selection of private homes, decorated beautifully for the season, and an optional Christmas Tea at the museum after the tour. General admission tickets include entrance to decorated private homes from North Plymouth and the historic downtown to Chiltonville, Manomet, and South Plymouth; a souvenir program booklet describing the homes on view; hot cocoa and treats along the way; plus the Christmas Tea. Tickets are available only at Pilgrim Hall Museum or online through the museum’s website. A limited number of tickets will be available for the tour (absent the Christmas tea) on the day of the event.
Also on Dec. 2, the Western Massachusetts-based band Harvest & Rust performs the music of Neil Young’s album “Harvest,” plus a selection of Young’s greatest hits, at The Spire Center. The show begins at 8 p.m. For tickets, visit spirecenter.org.
Plymouth’s 2nd Annual “Light The Night” will brighten Brewster Gardens, thanks to what organizers say are some “very generous donors and grants provided to the Downtown Waterfront District” that will make it bigger this year. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Brewster Gardens Pergola. Enjoy complimentary gourmet hot chocolate and holiday carols sung by the Plymouth North High School choir.
The display will run from Dec. 2- 31, from dusk to dawn.
Sun., Dec. 3
Plimoth Patuxet Museums hosts its Winter Fine Arts and Craft Fair, a showcase and marketplace of fine arts and craft at the museums’ Hornblower Visitor Center, at 137 Warren Ave. Immerse yourself, the museums invite, “in a festive winter setting.” The fair takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Also on Dec. 3, Local Roots, at 186 Water St., hosts entertainment for the breakfast/brunch/etc. crowd from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
And yet more to do on Dec. 3, The Pinehills in Plymouth invites the public to “Jingle All the Way” to The Pinehills village green to kick off the holiday season. The event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featured attractions include the Mayflower Brewing Winter Beer Garden, Santa at The Pinehills post office, an event called the “Book Love Holiday Pop-up” inside the Rowen rental agency, plus a storytime, a petting zoo, a holiday selfie station, carolers, a firepit, tree lighting, and “The Reindog Parade.” You can register your dog for the parade through The Pinehills website.
Finally, the Pilgrim Festival Chorus concludes its holiday concert program with a performance at 4 p.m. at St. Bonaventure Parish in Manomet.
Mon., Dec. 4
Uva Wine Bar, 46 Main St. , hosts its Frosted Holly Berry Bracelet Stack Class from 6 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available through the wine bar’s website.
Tues., Dec. 5
Plymouth Public Library invites parents, caregivers, and babies from 0 to 18 months old to “Books and Babies,” a half-hour of stories, bounces, fingerplays, and songs” taking place from from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
The library’s Chess Club meets this evening from 7 to 8 p.m. This activity is for when babies grow up.
Plymouth G Pub, at 101 Carver Road, hosts Tuesdays in the Taproom, a program of free comedy by Mike Murray and Friends, from 7 to 8 p.m.
Wed., Dec 6
Plymouth Public Library offers “Tots and Tales,” a half-hour storytime for children 3 and under and their caregivers from 11 to 11:30 a.m. The program includes stories, songs, and movement activities that reinforce early literacy skills.
The Wednesday Night Writing Group (for grown-up kids) meets in the library’s History Room from 6 to 8 p.m. For questions email Maureen Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-830-4250, ext. 204.
The Plymouth High School Class of 1958 plans a monthly lunch at 1 p.m. at the Charlie Horse in Kingston and will make it regular event on the first Wednesday of every month, weather permitting. Call Clare Montanari at 617-688-6419 for more details.
Thurs., Dec. 7
The Plymouth Antiquarian Society presents “A Christmas Carol at the Hedge House,” inviting the public to an “immersive performance” as a talented cast brings to life Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” This is an original production that transforms each of the house’s rooms into a setting for a different scene, as participants witness Scrooge’s encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Forty-five minute performances begin at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35 and are available at www.plymouthantiquarian.org. Performances continue at the Hedge House, 126 Water St., through Sunday, Dec. 10.
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