Orchestra and Chorale conducted by Andrew Megill
J.S. Bach, The Christmas Oratorio, Part III and VI, BWV 248
Arvo Pärt, Seven Magnificat Antiphons
The Christmas Oratorio’s third and final cantatas comprise the major portion of the annual Carmel Mission Basilica concerts. Interlaced with the two cantatas are Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons, a stunning a cappella work with texts that would normally be sung individually as antiphons to the Magnificat at Vespers on the seven evenings preceding Christmas Eve. Pärt’s composition is hauntingly beautiful and is perfectly suited for the Carmel Mission Basilica.
The fifth cantata depicts the journey of the Magi, and was meant for performance on the first Sunday after the New Year and tells a story about unifying heaven and earth. All the elements of Bach’s great Passions are here, including an tenor evangelist to tell the story, beautiful chorales, and solo arias, all performed by members of the remarkable Festival Chorale.
The final cantata of The Christmas Oratorio was composed for the Feast of the Epiphany, or the final day of the Feast of Christmas. The work is one of joyful optimism, with a brilliant and festive chorus accompanied by an orchestra that continues the vivid and celebratory tone of the first cantata presented on the Sunday afternoon concerts. Trumpets and timpani close the Oratorio in a blaze of glory.
“This concert is the final chapter of the Christmas Oratorio journey, coupled with a set of beautiful a cappella works by Arvo Pärt, the great Estonian ‘spiritual minimalist.’ His Seven Magnificat Antiphons, sprinkled throughout the program, are meditative, trance-like, and transcendent,” said associate conductor Andrew Megill.
Andrew Megill is the artistic director of Fuma Sacra and serves as chorusmaster for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He is also music director of Masterwork Chorus and professor and director of choral activities at the University of Illinois. He is in his 12th season as associate conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival and director of the chorale and chorus.