Christmas with the Santa Cruz Chorale at Holy Cross

It was a most impressive showing of support for a most impressive concert that took place on Sunday, December 9 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz. No less than three lines of supporters lined up in front of the church entrance that extended a block down to the street and waited patiently for the doors to open. One line was dedicated to ticket holders, one for “Will Call” and the third for those who wished to purchase tickets. The concert was a complete sell out with people hustling and hoping for a seat or two.

Christian Grube is Emeritus Professor of Choral Conducting at the University of the Arts in Berlin. He serves as Director of the Berlin State and Cathedral Boys’ Choir and the Chamber Choir of the University of the Arts. He has recently been awarded the National Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest civilian honor given by the German government.

Artistic Director and Conductor Grube put together a program of twenty two works, plus “one for the road” from Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) through Salva Regina (“Hail Holy Queen”) Anonymous 17th-century Gregorian Chant and on to Quempas by Michael Praetorius (1571-!856). The Quempas combined two 15thcentury Latin Christmas hymns, Quem pastores laudavere and Nunc angelorum gloria plus a third hymn from the 9th century Magnum nomen Domini added as a refrain.

The chorale was brilliantly supported by the nine members of the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta plus the superb accompaniment of Vlada Volkova-Moran, harpsichordist, organist and pianist, whose solo performance of Quand le bon le bon Saveur Jesus-Christ by Jean-Francois Dandrieu (1682-1739) was simply splendid! The Sinfonietta offered a wonderfully balanced supportive role to the Chorale.

The Chorale was well prepared and this certainly reflected in their superb performance. Under the keen ear of Maestro Grube the four vocal sections blended together wonderfully and left nothing to be desired.

Just a mention regarding the soloists who created special moments in the Magnificat by Claudio Monteverde (1576-1643). Soprano soloists were Christa Berryessa, Julia van der Wyk and Alissa Roedig. Baritone soloists were Niel Warren, Jim Grove and Jean Laroche. Tenors were Jas Cluff, Tom Pennello and Jim Grove. The Quempas offered an elegant antiphonal touch with soprano soloists Tatiana Davidson, Lois Van Buren. Positioned midway up the outer isles were Rev. Eliza Linley and Julia van der Wyk who alternated elegant pasages that filled the church with spot on pitch and rich sound.

The Santa Cruz Chorale will soon begin preparation for their April 27 and 28 performance of the Joseph Haydn Mass in B flat Major and Psalm 42 & Choruses from Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn.

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