BRUNSWICK — The Oratorio Chorale women’s chorus, Sweetest in the Gale,will present Benjamin Britten’s beloved “Ceremony of Carols,” under the direction of Emily Isaacson with harpist Mo Nichols, 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 27 Pleasant St.
Written in 1942 when the composer was just 29 years old, “Ceremony of Carols” has become a British national treasure. Using the angelic combination of women’s voices and harp, Britten sets poetry from 14th to 16th century England.
“I fell in love with Britten’s music when I was 15 years old,” says Oratorio Chorale artistic director Emily Isaacson. “He was one of the composers that made me want to pursue music professionally. His music is innovative, dramatic, and unexpected while also being eloquent and totally transportive.”
Also featured will be members of the Girl Singers of Maine, who will perform selections from a set of Britten songs called “Friday Afternoons,” written for children’s voices. The Girl Singers are directed by Maria Belva, a professional choral conductor and private voice teacher who is herself a member of Sweetest in the Gale and the full Oratorio Chorale. Piano accompaniment will be provided by Dale Churchill.
The Girl Singers of Maine, established in September 2018 at the Portland Conservatory of Music, offers expert choral instruction to young women in grades 2-12 in three separate choirs: Iris Ensemble, grades 9–12, Bella Canta, grades 5–8, and Skylarks, grades 2–4.
Belva says, “The songs in Friday Afternoons are art songs in the best sense of the word, whose texts are carefully chosen to give maximum variety of mood and to challenge and hearten the children’s enthusiasm. The songs easily demonstrate Britten’s genius—his ability to write excellent music which is so recognizably his—without any feeling that he is making modifications for the age of the singers.”
Harpist Mo Nichols previously performed with the Chorale and Sweetest in the Gale as part of the group’s popular Sing We Noël program in December. Nichols is principal harpist of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.
Advance tickets: $20 adults, $10 students (plus small handling fee). Children under 12 free if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Advance tickets are available only through Brown Paper Tickets online or call 1-800-828-3008; Door tickets: $25 adults, $12.50 students, children under 12 free if accompanied by a ticketed adult.
For more information, visit www.oratoriochorale.org or call 207-577-3931.