Long before Baroque oratorio, ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairy and Rudolph defined our Christmas musical celebrations, the Christian Church cultivated an extensive choral tradition that probed the season’s profound mystery. Saturday (Dec. 13) at St. Brigid’s Church in Pacific Beach, Bach Collegium San Diego offered a resplendent concert of Gregorian chant and Renaissance motets for Advent and Christmas . . .
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No matter how celebrated the composer, a commission is always a gamble. David Bruce’s “Night Parade”— the slightly jazzy, atmospheric tone poem he wrote for the San Diego Symphony’s Carnegie Hall debut and China tour last year—proved amiable, but it was no show-stopper. His new Violin Concerto “Fragile Light,” which Gil Shaham premiered under Music Director Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony Friday (Dec. 12), however, struck pay dirt . . .
The obituary for the solo vocal recital has been written so frequently it is a wonder that singers still attempt to present it. This fall, San Diego Opera has demonstrated how to make this supposedly moribund format come to life, and Friday (Dec. 12) mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe entranced her ample audience at the Balboa Theatre . . .
When the month of December rolls around, I am eager for almost any program that is NOT “Messiah,” “Nutcracker” or Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” So when the San Diego chamber music collective Camarada announced they were playing an all-Vivaldi program without a single movement from “The Four Seasons” I was eager to hear it . . .
During Jahja Ling’s tenure as San Diego Symphony Music Director, we have come to expect a major choral work in December such as Handel’s “Messiah” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Happily, the maestro ignored that stale tradition and with the San Diego Master Chorale offered Haydn’s magnificent “Mass in Time of War,” also known by its German name “Paukenmesse” . . .
Art of Élan offered Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s clever 2011 “Entracte” for string quartet and a raft of mellifluous French chamber music to their Tuesday (November 25) program at the San Diego Museum of Art . . .