Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Review of Carols by Candlelight 10th Edition

by Silvana Sultana

Poster used for Carols by Candlelight 10th editionThe so much awaited Christmas event of 'Carols by Candlelight' held in Gozo was another big success. Surely it is a credit to attribute to the choir and the production team. From months before preparations started and everything was taken care of, giving particular attention to the detail.

The production, as in the past five editions was under the artistic direction of Fr. Joseph Bajada and the musical direction was under the energetic choir director Marouska Attard. The repertoire chosen included various popular pieces some of which were a cappella and others accompanied by the Jubilate Ensemble.

The concert opened with a newly composed medley by Paul Portelli entitled 'Christmas we celebrate'. The piece starts off with a collage of small motifs taken from popular Christmas Carols. The choir comes in singing 'Angels from the Realms of Glory', 'Tu scendi dalle stelle' and 'F' lejl tax-xitwa'. The medieval pieces of 'Riu Riu Chiu' (arr. Guentner) followed with Bass Albert Buttigieg interpreting the solo piece and Stefan Attard playing the tambourine. Another two lovely carols followed 'Carol of the Drum' (Davis) and 'Il-Benniena tal-Bambin'. The latter was arranged by Paul Portelli and includes Maltese traditional carols of 'Ninni Ninni', 'O Ġesu' Ħelwa Tarbija' and 'Ninni la tibkix izjed'. Schola Cantorum Jubilate tries to include a Maltese musical piece in its repertoire each time it performs. This remarks the fact that identity prevails in the choir's principles and though Maltese may lack Christmas musical compositions, we still have the Maltese versions of most of the popular carols. Next in line was 'Away in a manger' (arr. Willcocks), 'Infant holy, infant lowly'(arr. Willcocks) and 'We three kings' (A. Pitts) interpreted by Christabella Vella, Catherine Portelli and Charles Vincenti. During this carol, the audience saw the arrival of the Three Maji. During the carols 'The Holly and the Ivy' (arr. Davies), interpreted by Bernadine Attard, Catherine Portelli, Charles Vincenti, Albert Buttigieg and the chorus, the attendees were given a brooch made of an ivy and a holly with some berries. At the end of this carol, the audience was surprised with the strong notes of the bagpipe played by Stefan Mercieca who interpreted a medley of carols.

The second part of the concert featured the soloists. First Marouska Attard interpreted Adam's 'O Holy Night' and then pianist Fabian Cini played a 'Christmas Medley for piano' by Portelli. Ballerina Christabel Bajada performed her own choreography during the piano piece. Following this, the soloists joined forces and interpreted 'Silent Night' (Pitts) and 'Sans Day Carol' (arr. Rutter). This led to the final part where choir and ensemble performed 'O Little town of Bethlehem' (arr. Williams, Armstrong), Rutter's 'Shepherd's pipe carol' (Rutter) which featured a shepherd with the lamb and the boy playing the pipe and finally the 'Hallelujah Chorus'. At the very end, Mary, Baby Jesus and Joseph appeared in the scene and finally, the magi, shepherd, boy and angle joined them.

The audience was amased on seeing these tableaux and the quite long applause and standing ovation showed their appreciation. At the very end, the compere Stanley Joe Portelli invited the audience to join the choir and together sing 'Come all ye faithful'. Once the concert was over, the participants left the church and entered the cloister. At the foyer, an exhibition by Victor Agius was held and featured ceramics representing the nativity scene. The five-course meal prepared by the Ta' Frenc Chefs was delicious and the decorated ambiance complimented the soirée. The choristers received many positive comments and encouragement. 'Carols by Candlelight' was surely a good start for the Christmas celebrations.

Choir Conductor Marouska Attard 01 02 03 04 05 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

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