It’s tough to describe music in words. Let’s describe the following events as gifts, and we opened the presents. We took apart the bows, tore off the wrapping paper, pried open the boxes, and were thrilled with the contents, two exciting holiday concerts.
On Thursday afternoon, Dec. 12, a school bus pulled up in front of the Meeting House, and
a group of young adults made their way into the Music Room. They were dressed in their finery. I believed Victor Borge would have been proud that this space was being used by talented youngsters who comprised the Brookfield High School Chamber Singers under the direction of John LaMendola. He was the quintessential music teacher. I would describe LaMendola as ebullient, and together, LaMendola and the students spread joy.
The faces of the students represented the melting pot that is our Village, our town, our state and our country. The presentation was also very diverse. Some selections were sung a capella and John LaMendola played the piano for others.
“Mele Kalikimaka” translated to Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. It was lively and upbeat. “Cantata Domino” was a madrigal with a Latin text. “Nada Wana” was a traditional South African Song. The Venda text translate to: “I found children playing. They were singing about a bird.” “Ose Shalom” is a Hebrew song. La Mendola explained that when performed on the Brookfield High School stage it is done with an orchestra and strings. The song is about peace (shalom). The concert included “All is Well,” a seven part song, and “Ding-a Ding-a Ding,” a song that has eight different parts. The concert opened with the singing of “God Bless America” and they also performed “Sinner Man,” “Winter Heart,” and the classic “When I Fall In Love.”
We thank Heritage Village American Legion Memorial Post 204 for inviting all Villagers to
attend. The concert was delightful. The American Legion Women’s Auxiliary set beautiful tables filled with sweets of the season. There were also eye-catching poinsettias displayed. It was very festive. I really got a kick out of watching the singers go after the candy that was served.
The Heritage Singers offered two holiday concerts on Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15, entitled “Songs of the Season.” Thank you to those who have participated over the years. Helen Falcone, president of the Singers Board of Directors, greeted audience before the concert began. “In the fall of 1969, 35 residents who loved music and enjoyed singing joined together under the direction of Cliff Ormsby,” said Falcone. She is the longest participant in the current group.
Thank you to the Sopranos: Sheila Baum, Marian Coppola-DiFabio, Iris Fontaine, Maria
Foppiano, Ruth Freedman, Cindy Grabovsky, Anita Harris, Sunny Harris, Karen Lampiasi, Nekki Lang, Laurie Mansfield, Barbara Mechler, Grace Mele, Amanda Minard, Linda Steelhammer, Toni J. Stroz, Nancy Trew Sugden, Jer-Lyn Walsh, Mary Walsh. Gracias to the Altos: Patty Batten, Caroline Batten, Helen Falcone, Mary Ann Hovey, Carolyn Olofsson, Adriana Paris, Loretta Priest, Jane Reidhead. Merci to Tenors: Brian Higgins, Stephen Sullivan, Greg Wismar and basses Joe Iassogna and Dennis Li. It was so nice to see so many new names on this list.
The presentation opened and closed with medleys. Rona Hovasapian was the narrator. The opening selections certainly set the mood for this concert. The three familiar Christmas Carols heard in “Baroque Christmas Festival” combined with the Hornpipe theme from Handel’s Water Music, created a festive colorful collage. Carols hung were: “Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World.” Toward the end of the concert there was another medley which included Christmas favorites “Let it Snow,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Silver Bells” “Sleigh Ride” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Amy Bernon was in the audience. She is one of Connecticut’s leading composers of choral
music. She is also a talented singer, pianist and conductor. Her compositions were included in the program. Performed were “The Candles of Hanukkah,” an energetic rendition of the Hanukkah story set in partner format with a percussive “bom bidi bom” section provided by the men of the chorus. “Hanukkah, Hanukkah, Festival of Lights,” another new Hanukkah selection that beautifully incorporated the Jewish culture into the program. Bernon’s “On the Day Before Christmas (And the Day Before That!)” was also included in the program. It is a bright, festival madrigal style original. The lyrics were a delightful invitation to “Come dance, come sing and come caroling.”
“Gesu Bambino” is a treasured melody known and loved the world over and this arrangement allowed the female voices of the chorus to shine. The beautiful flute part was played by Dennis Li. Kodaly’s “Christmas Dance of the Shepherds” composed for women’s choir and a wind instrument, has a text based on a Hungarian Christmas carol.
Dennis Li traded in his flute for his piccolo. Dennis is the son of the extremely talented
Director of the Singers Jenny Li. He offered a stellar performance. Dennis received is BA from the Hart School of Music at the University of Hartford in 2017 and his MA form the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in 2018.
Joseph J. Jacovino is the group’s accompanist. At this concert he was also a soloist. He entertained us by performing selections from “Jingle Bells Around the World” an appealing and amusing medley. The piano keyboard played the part of several instruments including the drums and the bass.
The concert closed with George Frederic Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” the same selection sung at the closing of the 1969 Holiday Concert.
Many people behind the scenes helped make this concert a success. Thank you to:
Kathy Freeman for the creative program
Karen Jodie for the beautiful poster and sponsor booklet
Rob Gebhardt and the entire Activities staff for countless jobs well done
Maggie Blackburn and Carole Wilson for their expertise with lighting
The Focus Group for their excellent publicity
The Connecticut Community Foundation for their generous grant
And all the generous sponsors.
Hope to see you at the 2020 spring concert.