Engaging with the Christmas Spirit on 12/15/12, just one day after the massacre in Connecticut, in which 26 were killed – the least of which were 20 children for whom the holiday is truly intended – was haunting. The Parents. Knight Kiplinger, who introduced the show, eloquently captured and addressed the pangs of cognizance we all felt. “Music has magical powers,” he said, “the ability to dispel darkness.“ And “the joining of voices together can heal.” It brought the entire room’s collective consciousness together and gave to devoting all of our voices in heart felt song to the families. I believe it was the truest gift we could ever offer. I was grateful and honored to be involved.
The Washington Chorus‘ performance of A Candlelight Christmas at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts was as heart-warming as decorating the Christmas Tree. The performance began with members of the choir walking down the aisles, candle in hand, singing “Once in Royal David’s City” to unify on stage. As each member walked by, I was privy to momentarily hearing a solo voice. It was as exciting as the rediscovery of each ornaments before they’re assembled on the tree. And what a glorious semblance they gave. The National Capital Brass and Percussion – you could say – was the tree, the foundation these angelic voices adorned. The harp being, of course, the angel on top. And the brand new Pipe Organ was as nourishing and satisfying as the water used to sustain the tree.
The choir sang an exquisite medley of songs. My very favorite being “Frohlocket Ihr Volker Auf Erden,” sung a cappella. It was transcending. But in truth, they all were. “Good King Wenceslas” had a lively intro that conjured images of prancing through the snow. “Good King Wenceslas” soared, their voices literally lifting you with each crescendo. And “Still, Still, Still” was as sweet and soothing as a lullaby.
Midway through the first half, The Madrigal Singers from Marriotts Ridge High School chimed in and filled the room with a spirited bliss that resounded like little bells jingle jangling with fun. Their layers were simply divine. And when their set was over, they joined The Washington Chorus to finish the show and so, too, were the finishing touch on our magical musical Christmas Tree. As audience members, we were invited to join in on many songs.
I believe that to be musical, or artistic in any way, is to allow yourself to be employed as one of God’s instrument. Experiencing the music, the room coming together in harmony was ineffable grace. The quintessential essence of Christmas: Peace, Love, and Joy. The joining of our goodwill and directing that Spirit towards the families in Connecticut is nothing short of a prayer. Amen.
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15 minute intermission.
A Candlelight Christmas continues performances on Thursday, December 20th at 7:30 PM and Friday, December 21st at 7:30 PM, at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. Other performances are on Saturday, December 22nd at 1 PM and 4 PM, at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.