Friday, November 2, 2012

One month until Christmas...concert!

The Medicine Hat College Conservatory of Music and Dance is proud to present this year's annual Choral Christmas Concert!  The MHC Children's Choir, Girls' Choir, and Adult Choir will be featured in this upcoming concert.  We are also proud to be accompanied by the MHC Academy Orchestra in presenting Camille Saint-Saëns' Christmas Oratorio. Read on to learn a bit more about the Academy Orchestra's and Adult Choir's upcoming performance. 

Born in Paris, France and best known for his composition Carnvial of the Animals, Saint-Saëns quickly learned music theory, piano, several languages, math, and various other academic subjects.  After his intelligences were discovered, his teachers were quick to help nurture his abilities.  Saint-Saëns soon became friends with many other composers such as Liszt and Fauré. In addition to his many natural abilities, Saint-Saëns supposedly also had perfect pitch!

What is perfect pitch? The best way to explain this gift is to imagine how fresh (or un-fresh) your brain is in the morning.  If you were asked to sing or identify a 'G' right after waking up, most people would not be able to produce the correct answer.  However, a select few are able to do this without any trouble.  Identifying or producing a pitch is as natural and easy as identify or producing a commonly spoken English word.  It is important to consider this talent in light of the morning because many people have something called relative pitch.  Relative pitch means that once you know that you have successfully identified a note, you are able to successfully identify every note you hear afterwards.  This means that at any point during the day you can relate the pitch you already know to the pitch you are hearing and you are then able to identify it.  When you wake up in the morning however, you have nothing to refer to thus making it impossible to identify a pitch without a prior reference point.

Saint-Saëns is rumored to write his Oratorio de Noël, or Christmas Oratorio in less than ten days in order to meet pressures from his employer.  It includes a small string orchestra, organ, harp, soloists, and choir.  Because there are no harp players who live in Medicine Hat, we will substitute some sort of keyboard instrument for the harp.  Also, in order to allow the choir (and audiences) maximal enjoyment, the majority of the solo, duet, and trio parts will be sung by the entire choir.  Saint-Saëns modeled several movements after the most famous (even at his time) Johann Sebastian Bach, including the initial Prelude and movements echoing the same theme.  Written in 6/8 time, these 'pastoral' movements are reminiscent of shepherds in their fields who played instruments like flutes and recorders while tending their sheep.

Perhaps the most famous movement of Saint-Saëns' Christmas Oratorio is the last movement.  Familiar to most choral music fans, it is a strong, triumphant, and fitting end to the joyous re-telling of the Christmas story.

We look forward to you joining us at this joyous concert!  Join us on Sunday, December 2 at 3pm at Fifth Avenue Memorial United Church to hear some glorious music!

Merry Christmas!