Program Notes and Concert Extras

Season in Song

View performance

Season in Song

Online and on Walnut Creek TV

Donato Cabrera, Music Director
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Robert Mollicone, pianist
William Harvey, trumpet
Scott Macomber, trumpet
Meredith Brown, French horn
Don Benham, Principal trombone
Forrest Byram, Principal tuba

Bach (1685-1750)—Arias from the Christmas Oratorio
Bach (1685-1750)—Duet from Cantata 63 Ruft und flieht den Himmel an
Britten (1913-1976)—The Holly and the Ivy
Holst (1874-1934)—In the Bleak Midwinter
Jake Heggie (b. 1961) —On the Road to Christmas: Good King Merrily on High
Muhly (b. 1981)—M.A.R.Y.
Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)—Spanisches Liederbuch
Handel (arr. Jack Gale) (1685-1759)—Joy to the World
arr. Jack Gale—The First Noel
Richard S. Willis (arr. Jack Gale) (1819-1900)—It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
(arr. Forrest Byram)—Chanukkah Latkes
arr. Richard Walters—Gesu Bambino
Traditional—O Holy Night

Note: To follow along, you may print out the Season in Song Lyrics and Translations handout or keep the file open on a second device.

Pre-concert talk with Donato Cabrera, Kelley O’Connor, and Nicholas Phan starts 30 minutes before the concert, at 6:30PM (PT).

Ways to Watch

This free concert is available to watch anywhere in the world at No account or registration is required.

Follow the link to view on Vimeo to watch along with Music Director Donato Cabrera and vocalists Kelley O’Connor and Nicholas Phan in the chat window.

Alternatively, you can watch on Walnut Creek TV, available in Walnut Creek on Comcast Channel 28 (Channel 26 in Rossmoor), Astound Channel 29, and on AT&T U-verse Channel 99 under the menu option Walnut Creek Television.

Program Notes

Ask any regularly performing musician: the winter holidays are crunch time. December through early January is a nonstop blur of Messiahs and midnight Masses, Nutcrackers and nativity cantatas, Christmas Oratorios and choral recitals, busking at the mall and subbing at the Symphony. Just as in retail, for many freelance musicians the holiday season can make all the difference in meeting that year’s budget goals or not.

Family gatherings, parties, and celebrations: just try to imagine them without a constant flow of music. Holiday music can be as tacky as synthesized Musak renditions of Frosty the Snowman or as elevated as Bach’s Mass in B Minor. It need be no more than a few folks gathered around the living room piano or a gaggle of neighborhood carolers. Maybe it’s our annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, films filled with music. Maybe a visit to a vast concert hall to experience the collective might of a great orchestra complete with chorus, soloists, and lavish light shows. It’s all good. Whatever our tastes for winter celebration, whether Hanukkah or Christmas or Kwanzaa or just a heartfelt observation of the new year, we’re all inclined to mark the yearly seasonal cycle as we pass through the winter and begin heading, however tenuously at first, back towards the spring.

Some of our traditions took a while to get established. It’s something of a shock to realize that Handel’s Messiah was considered Easter fare well into the nineteenth century, or that It’s a Wonderful Life laid an egg with critics and audiences alike at its original release. Then there’s that sobering contemplation that there was a time when each of our favorites hadn’t been written yet; no Silent Night before 1818, for example. No matter; they’re our holiday treasures now, no matter how indirect their individual journeys were towards their ultimate destiny.

Surely we need them all the more this year, with our traditional festivities diminished in this troubling time of pandemic. But here’s something really cool about music: it doesn’t do social distancing. It’s just there, always and ever, whenever we call it forth. So may a thousand holiday songs resound!

Further Reading





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