Cache Valley Fun (blog) has posted a nice write-up on the upcoming American Festival Chorus Christmas performances. Give it a read!
The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra will present its annual Christmas from the Ellen Eccles Theatre concert this Friday and Saturday in Logan. This year the concert will feature violinist Jenny Oaks Baker and singer Alexandria Sharpe.
“This year we have two guest artists,” said Craig Jessop, director of the American Festival Chorus. “We have Jenny Oaks Baker and she’s just outstanding. She’s a Utah girl, but lives and works in Washington, D.C. as a violinist. For many years she’s been a member of the National Symphony Orchestra. Soprano Alexandria Sharpe, she’s coming to us from Ireland. She was a member of the group called Celtic Woman and has traveled all over the world.”
Sharpe and Baker will perform with more than 300 musicians in front of a sold out crowd.
“The singers are all volunteers and are members of the community,” Jessop said. “The orchestra are professional players. We…
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Review: Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Guest performers Nathan Gunn & Jane Seymour from Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011, my wife, her mother, her Uncle, and I attended the Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert. Their guest performers were soloist Nathan Gunn and actress Jane Seymour, who did the narration.
The concert was quite delightful. The stage was decorated wonderfully. There were wonderful technical effects to enhance the experience such as falling imitation snow during the story and song of Good King Winceslas, lighting up of the organ during songs, and other visual effects. Both Nathan Gunn and Jane Seymour gave marvelous performances. Nathan Gunn was very candid and “down to earth”. He put forth a noticeable effort to befriend the audience. Personally, I appreciate when any performer can do this. Especially one with the notoriety of Nathan Gunn. Many such performers give off the air of being too important and “inaccessible” to the audience. Jane Seymour’s narration blended well with the rest of the performance and brought a warmth to the event.
The Choir, themselves, sang wonderfully as usual and as expected. However, I do have some constructive criticism about the program as a whole. First, it seemed that the initial 2 or 3 songs by the Choir did not have correct audio settings to broadcast on the speakers. It seemed that we could only hear the Tenors and not the other parts. If this was the problem, then it also seems they were able to get this issue fixed after a few songs, for we were able to hear the entire choir perfectly after a few songs.
Secondly, I for one enjoy the addition of a non-tradition or less well-known Christmas song or two. But there seemed to be an abundance of these songs throughout the night. I am familiar with a large quantity of Christmas songs. I grew up listening to songs that the common person would no know. But there were a decent amount of songs I had never heard in any form before. This would not be a problem if the performance were balanced out with recognizable songs to keep the audience interested. But it appeared that the unknown songs took up at least half of the performance. This is ok and they were fun to listen to, but in my opinion, people go to hear the Choir sing Christmas classics that they know.
Lastly, and most importantly, it did not seem like a “Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with guest singers”, but rather the Choir backing up Nathan Gunn with a couple performances where they were the main part. This really disappointed me being that I expected near half of the performance or more to feature the Choir as the main performer. After all it IS the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s concert is it not? So shouldn’t they be featured the most, rather than acting as a backup act?
I did not get a chance to attend the Christmas concert a few years ago when the King’s Singers were the guest artists, but I have seen various parts of recorded material from the concert. And it seems there was a much better job done of featuring the Choir with the King’s Singers being the guests of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And I am a HUGE fan of the King’s Singers. But I thought it was appropriate for them to be the “additional” act instead of upstaging the Choir.
I am still very glad we were able to attend. As I said, Good King Winceslas is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and they did a wonderful job narrating the complete story of the song. They really brought me the Christmas mood with that one. These are just some thoughts that I had of the overall performance. Let me know what your thoughts are.
And I just found another article by Blair Howell introducing Nathan Gunn and his preparation for his performances with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: http://bit.ly/vZXvHh
You can follow me on twitter @AFC_BenBurt. Please also follow the American Festival Chorus on twitter @AmFestChorus. You can also follow the American Festival Chorus on Facebook at http://bit.ly/tLymHN. The official Website of American Festival Chorus is www.americanfestivalchorus.com