A few notes from Ralph B. Woodward about selections on the program for this year’s Cathedral Concerts:
The only piece the choir has sung every year since its inception is “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (Es is ein Ros entsprungen). Apart from its sheer beauty, it seems to have a particular ability bridge the centuries. Although relatively young in terms of the entire Christian Era (having first appeared around 1600), it is one of the the earlier carols which we sing, and when we do so, I somehow sense we are joining our voices with those of ages past.
I grew up hearing my mother, a gifted singer and voice teacher, sing the beautiful ” Le sommeil de l’Enfant Jesus (Berceuse pour al Nuit de Noel) by Henri Büsser. Years later, after founding the choir, I suddenly remembered the piece, asked her about it, and upon locating it, adapted it for use by our choir. This piece, to which we often refer as simply “Berceuse”, or lullaby, has proven to be a stirring high point of our Christmas concerts ever since.
Other long-standing traditions of our Christmas concerts are the special descants which are sung with the audience at the end of our concerts. The one to “Silent Night” is partially derived from one my mother created and sang and, as far as I remember, was sung along with our newly-composed “O Come, All Ye Faithful” descant at our inaugural concert in 1979. Our other carol descants were added not many years later and are, themselves, part of a long-standing tradition.