Symphony, chorus in free Thanksgiving eve concert


POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008

The Honolulu Symphony Chorus and Orchestra will present a free concert on Thanksgiving Eve, an enriching “;friends and family night out”; for people of all ages. This is a unique opportunity to gather in the spirit of the holidays to hear wonderful music of celebration.






        Honolulu Symphony Chorus and Orchestra and the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, conducted by Esther S. Yoo


» In concert: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday


» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall


» Admission: Free


» Call: 524-0815, ext. 257, or visit



Three exemplary choral masterworks take center stage in our “;Ho'omaika'i”; concert. J.S. Bach's “;Magnificat in D Major,”; Benjamin Britten's “;A Ceremony of Carols”; and John Rutter's “;Gloria”; are choral gems, each unique and loved by audiences around the globe. This concert will feature stellar soloists as well as the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus.

The symphony and chorus will open with Bach's most creative and effervescent spirit. The “;Magnificat”; is radiant and festive, illuminating the Latin text that is, in essence, a poetic outpouring of Thanksgiving to God. This is music that embraces the colorful emotions of the words—it has vigor, introspection, confidence, joy, tenderness, humility and exaltation. It is also one of the only large works for chorus and orchestra that Bach wrote using Latin text (the other being the B-minor Mass).

“;Magnificat”; was written for Bach's first Christmas in Leipzig, Germany, in 1723, and was composed in E-flat major with four interspersed movements to tell the Nativity story. For this concert, the later version of D major (1732) will be performed without the interspersed movements. The Baroque “;effect”; belonging to the D-major key is that of celebration, royalty and jubilation, associated with the use of trumpets and timpani, and so it is fitting for the festivities of the evening.

One of Britten's most famous choral works is “;A Ceremony of Carols,”; a moving chamber work for harp and chorus that uses texts from medieval Christmas carols. Originally composed for treble voices, this work will be performed simultaneously in both treble and mixed versions by the youth opera and symphony chorus members.

“;A Ceremony of Carols”; exhibits Britten's extraordinary ability to write effectively for the voice with great economy. He created impressive sonorities using techniques largely found in his music for children, most notably the use of canons and rounds. This work is also dancelike and often uses an ostinato (repeating phrase) to achieve the impression of timelessness. The text is central and beautifully illustrated throughout in the music, whether it is the war between the newborn Babe and the powers of Satan as told in Carol 6, or the intensity of the “;freezing winter night”; of Carol 8.

The “;Ho'omaika'i”; celebration will close with Rutter's “;Gloria.”; This music is fresh in its approach, based on a Gregorian chant associated with the opening phrase of the text. It is jubilant in the outer movements, contemplative in the middle and truly exhibits the exalting nature of the Latin text.

Rutter's ability to write so attractively for today's audiences using the classical symphonic structure is most impressive. In its original 1974 version, this work was meant for choir, brass, percussion and organ. But for this celebration, the 1988 version for full orchestra and chorus will be performed.

The joyful sounds of this “;Ho'omaika'i”; are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. A true musical feast!


Esther Yoo is the new director of the Honolulu Symphony Chorus. This concert marks her debut. Crescendo”; appears prior to each concert of the season to illuminate works to be performed. E-mail comments to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).