Glee Club Shares "Wondrous Love" at Holiday Performances
The Fairfield University Glee Club presents its annual holiday concert Wondrous Love at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6, and 2 p.m., Sat., Dec. 7, 2013, at Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. During this holiday season, the Glee Club performs outstanding choral music from several different traditions, the Western Christian tradition, the African Christian tradition and the Eastern European tradition. The concert features performances by The Fairfield University Glee Club conducted by Carole Ann Maxwell, D.S.M., with accompanist Beth Palmer, and the Reverend Charles H. Allen S.J., Chaplain, as well as by Glee Club members in a variety of collaborations. Also performing are Sweet Harmony, an all-female ensemble of chamber singers directed by Nicole Raposo, The Bensonians, an all-male a cappella group directed by Tim Rhone, and the Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Maxwell. Tickets: $10 general admission; $6, students.
Commenting on works on the program, Carol Ann Maxwell notes: “What better way to express the awe and majesty of the love of God than to reference the early Christian folk hymn ‘What Wondrous Love Is This?’” The hymn’s lyrics were first published in a camp meeting songbook in 18ll. The melody, a 1701 English song “The Ballad of Captain Kidd”, was very popular at the time, and the lyrics and this melody were first paired together in a book of shape note hymns, The Southern Harmony, published around 1840. With the influence of Christian missionaries on the African continent, its vast and varied culture became more so as it adopted Western ideas, including Christmas. “With all good assimilation, comes addition and enrichment,” said Dr. Maxwell. “Such is the case with African Christmas music, which ensconced the Christian Christmas message in native rhythm, melodies and styles.” The Nigerian carol “Betelehemu” was brought to the United States by Babatunde Olatunji, who was studying at Morehouse College in the mid-1950s. It is based on a Yoruban folk text and melody and captures the infectious rhythms and movements of Africa.
The program also features works by Zdenek Lukcas, a contemporary Prague composer who added a playful rhythmic delight to the text of the “Sanctus,” and British composer Gustav Holst, who hosts several familiar Christmas carols in his brilliant setting of “Christmas Day.” Contemporary composers, Francisco Nunez and Jim Papoulis created new holiday arrangements based on well-known melodies and incorporate gospel, funk and other world rhythms, including altered harmonies and word play that expand the palette of the choral experience. “Their arrangement of ‘Deck the Halls’ is the foundation for ‘Yuletide Fantasy,’” said Dr. Maxwell, of the piece that will be the concert’s finale.
The Fairfield University Glee Club, founded in 1947, is the oldest club on the Fairfield University campus. The members share a deep love for music and a common desire to achieve excellence in it. The Glee Club numbers over 130 undergraduate and graduate singers. Their voices explore a wide variety of repertoire, experiencing diverse styles of music and enriching audiences with programming that challenges and inspires. The Glee Club’s 66th season will find the singers in concerts in Philadelphia and New York. The Glee Club’s next European Tour will be to Prague and Berlin in March 2014. The Glee Club is the parent organization of two additional choral ensembles: Sweet Harmony and The Bensonians.
The Fairfield University Chamber Singers is the first mixed choir on campus. Founded in 1982 by Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Orin Grossman, it is an ensemble of auditioned singers, whose advanced repertoire, both sacred and secular, have led to a wide acclaim in the area.
The combined Fairfield University Choirs, under the direction of Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell, have presented concerts in churches, schools, recital and concert halls throughout Europe, singing from Galway to Rome, from Florence to London, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. They have been heard in a number of prestigious concert sites, including Carnegie Hall, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Westminster and Southward Cathedrals in London, the Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican, the United States Military Academies at Annapolis and West Point, and Disney World. The Glee Club has also premiered several contemporary choral works written especially for the Club by composer Gwyneth Walker, Randol Alan Bass, Marvin Curtis, and Marty Haugen.
Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell has served as Director of Choral and Liturgical Music for Fairfield University since 1980. She has prepared and conducted choruses all over the world, and she extends her commitment to bring exceptional choral music to singers and audience members throughout Fairfield County. Dr. Maxwell has been the artistic director of The Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut since its inception in 1984.
Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396. (1-877-278-7396).