On a chilly Saturday evening at the Church of the Brethren in La Verne, the University of La Verne’s music department hosted a Christmas concert with choir and instruments in an Antonio Vivaldi performance.
“It was a great, heartwarming performance,” said Jonathan Reed, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who attended the performance.
The concert was held inside the sanctuary, which had Christmas decorations, banners of red, wreaths of green, and candles lit behind the performers.
After a few moments of talking by the conductor, Stephen Gothold, also a professor of music at La Verne, gave a brief description of Vivaldi before conducting the choir before him to sing “Magnificat.”
The performance was held before a fairly large audience that nearly filled up the pews on the church.
The music department’s choir and orchestra strung together an elegant and deep piece, starting with low pitches and rising higher in a very professional fashion.
The Vivaldi piece, written in Latin, exalted the Christian God with lines such as “Esurientos implevit bonis et fivites dimisit inanes,” or, translated, “He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.”
“It was a good way to start the season,” said Joann Earhart, wife of Robert Earhart, associate vice president of university relations. “It was representative of the whole community in La Verne.”
After “Magnificat” had ended, there was a brief pause, before a much smaller selection of choir members remained standing to sing the next three carols, “Caroling, Caroling,” was the first, which held quite a bit of Christmas cheer and energy. The next song was “All on a Christmas Morning,” before finally ending with “We’ll Dress the Hose,” all of which were short, but quite memorable to hear.
Afterward were two more pieces, “Fum Fum Fum,” and the classic and infinitely memorable, “Let it Snow!” the ULV Music Ensemble, consisting of Carol Stephenson and Melissa Mcintosh Landis, sopranos, Michael Fausto, tenor, Aaron Colby, baritone, and with Graze Zhao on piano and Linda West Brown on organ, performing with an initially all male choir to sing “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” which was about the birth of Jesus Christ, the deep voices providing a harmonious mixture as the performance went on.
Then, the women came up and they themselves performed alone, “O Men from the Fields,” which was a pleasant contrast after the all-male chorus.
And finally, as one large chorus, they sang in a well-conducted performance with pieces such as “Unto us is Born a Son,” and “Good King Wenceslas.”
“I’d have liked for it to be a little bit longer,” said Sylvia Slakey, who was present at the performance along with her husband, Steve Slakey. “You can get good voice, but to blend them in is really an artform.”
The concert lasted only an hour, but was a good indication of the future holiday spirit to come.
Dan Sayles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.