Continuing a tradition begun in 1999, the Island Community Chorus will present its annual Holiday Concert this Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, Dec. 4 and 5, at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown.
The chorus, more than 100 voices strong, has been rehearsing since early September for this program. It will perform under the baton of its artistic director, Peter Boak, and with the support of accompanist L. Garrett Brown on the Steinway.
In this last set of concerts before embarking on its 15th anniversary year, the choir will sing a variety of secular and sacred songs appropriate to the season, selected by Mr. Boak from musical traditions around the world. The rousing folk song, “Wana Baraka,” is a popular Kenyan tune performed in the original Swahili. “Hanerot Halalu,” sung by the chorus in Hebrew, celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah. The choir will sing a pair of seasonal carols, the “Nanita Lullaby” and “The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby,” from the Spanish and Irish traditions. The largest piece on the concert program is the American classic, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” in a dramatic 1942 arrangement by Ken Darby and Harry Simeone.
The chorus will reach back to the Middle English poetry tradition to sing a prize-winning setting of the poem, “Thys Yool,” and will sing an arrangement by the great John Rutter of the English carol, “The Holly and the Ivy.” One of the program’s most harmonically challenging pieces is a setting by Morten Lauridsen of the haunting poem by James Agee, “Sure on This Shining Night.”
Visiting the jazz tradition, the chorus will sing Mac Ruff’s arrangement of the poignant war-era song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” And this weekend’s performances will conclude with Mark Sirett’s arrangement of the traditional Gaelic song attributed to Robert Burns, “Auld Lang Syne.”
Concerts will be presented at 7:30 pm on Saturday and 3 pm. on Sunday. A donation of $15 is suggested at the door. And after each performance, all are welcome to enjoy a festive buffet of sweet and savory snacks provided by the singers of the chorus in the Baylies Room downstairs.