The Susquehanna Chorale will present its annual Candlelight Christmas concert series on Dec. 13, 14 and 15. The performances will be held in Mechanicsburg, Elizabethtown and Harrisburg.
The chorale is a nationally renowned, 38-member chamber ensemble led by Artistic Director and Conductor Linda Tedford. The group’s popular Christmas concerts regularly draw upward of 600 people. Each of the three concert venues will be decorated for the season with poinsettias and other greenery.
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 at The High Center at Messiah College in Grantham; 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 at Leffler Chapel at Elizabethtown College; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at Market Square Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg.
Tickets are available through the Chorale’s website, www.susquehannachorale.org, or by calling the Messiah College Box Office, 717-691-6036. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 at the door for adults. Student tickets are $5.
This year’s concerts will include beloved classics interwoven with new and creative settings of familiar texts. As a special treat, cellist Ai-Lin Hsieh appears as a guest artist and will be featured in several selections. Hsieh received her early musical training in both piano and cello. She is a faculty member at Messiah and Lebanon Valley College.
Other musicians appearing with the chorale include Daniel Dorty on piano and organ, Mitchell Sensenig on piano, and Kit Baker, Michael Checco, Dorty and Sensenig on percussion.
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A pre-concert prelude by Hsieh and Dorty on organ will be presented 15 minutes prior to each performance.
One of the highlights of the concert will be the hauntingly beautiful composition “Serenity.” The piece was written by modern Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, who is among the most frequently performed composers in the choral world. “Serenity” is a modern setting for the ancient Latin text “O Magnum Mysterium” and will feature the entire choir with cello accompaniment.
“’Serenity’ is all about the mystery of Christmas,” Tedford said. “It evokes a feeling of peace and calm, and for this reason I chose it to be a centerpiece of the concert.”
Another highlight will be Michael Engelhardt’s arrangement of the 16th century sacred Christmas carol “Gaudete.” This dramatically syncopated selection will be accompanied by an interesting assortment of percussion instruments including a steel plate and the drum from a car’s brake.
The chorale will also perform Elaine Hagenberg’s “O Come, Emmanuel,” William Mathias’ “Hodie Christus natus est,” John Rutter’s “Carol of the Magi,” Donald McCullough’s arrangement of “What Child is This?,” Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of “Sussex Carol,” and the spirituals “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow” (Stacey Gibbs) and “Mary Had a Baby” (Uzee Brown Jr.).
The audience will be surrounded by candlelight and song for the group’s traditional finale, Malcolm Sargent’s exquisite setting of “Silent Night.”