Each September since 2007 the members of Canto Deo begin a journey toward our December performances – An Advent Service of Lessons & Carols, featuring the Canto Deo Chamber Choir, and A Canto Deo Christmas featuring the Canto Deo Festival Choir and Orchestra. But even earlier than that, typically in July, I begin selecting the repertoire; searching for music that will challenge and inspire the singers and engage our audiences. I search the centuries for sounds which have stood the test of time, preserving our great heritage of choral music—an inheritance passed down to us by inspired authors and composers. I also pour over hundreds of new works written by the next generation of talented composers – selecting and pairing the best of the old with the best of the new.
When you come to a Canto Deo performance, you experience the culmination of many weeks (as a matter of fact, over 2000 cumulative hours!) of rehearsal time dedicated to creating a beautiful and cohesive sound – an ensemble bound together by music and by our love for one another, focused on the goal of being and offering the best. The art of sacred choral music… Our gift to you!
In the performances this December we will present musical contrast, balance of extremes, and proportion – all best when experienced as a whole, a complete cycle. Let me explain.
A Canto Deo Christmas celebrates all the trimmings of the yuletide season: the birth of Christ on Earth – exuberant, joyful, festive… in other words, a party! We pull out all the stops, so to speak. Our venues are packed with people just like you who come to hear traditional carols, as well as something new – a “never heard before” carol, or a fresh arrangement of a familiar one. You’ll be surrounded with sound! The voices of the choir, lush melodies from the orchestra, and even the voices of those sitting next to you may inspire everything from “let’s dance!” to quiet, perhaps even pensive reflection, full of wonder and awe.
That’s our gift to you during the concerts on December 14, 15, and 17. But that is only a part of it.
The marvelous, and not to be missed, setting of the jewel of Christmas is unveiled December 1 and 2. With this unveiling, the coming of Christ into the world, along with the glitter and celebration of his birth at Christmas creates a wondrous, mysterious, and complete cycle of God’s coming to dwell with men and women.
During the Advent Service of Lessons & Carols, we are reminded of where we started and how we found ourselves in our broken condition. What was and what is the Bethlehem moment? Why is there so much yearning, even since the time of Adam and Eve, for someone to save us from ourselves? How does it relate to us today? How do we fit into this picture? The music (Carols) of Advent reflect those longings in each of us. The scriptures (Lessons) assure us that we are not alone in these longings. We look back and we look forward. We find solace and we find hope.
This service (in contrast with the concert a few weeks later) adds depth, dimension, and color to Christmas and helps us experience it wholly. The Canto Deo Chamber Choir will sing ancient chant, traditional hymns, and bright new carols full of surprises; we will ask you to join us in the liturgy, prayers, and some carols. It is our hope that you will leave the Advent service renewed, but perhaps with a new thirst for Christmas. This Advent service may shed new light on an old story, and just might raise a few questions for you to explore. In the end, my prayer is that this service will stream heavenly light on all our life paths and help us approach the mystery of the Incarnation.
This December, we invite you to experience the whole cycle of Christmas, beginning with an Advent Service of Lessons & Carols on December 1 and 2; and culminating with A Canto Deo Christmas on December 14, 15, and 17.
Finally, a request! Whether at the Advent service, the Christmas concert, or both, please stop by afterwards to say hello – I’d love to meet you! And for those who have come to our concerts through the years, I can’t wait to see you again.
All the best to you, your family, and friends.
Jonathan is the artistic director and conductor of Canto Deo, a Christian community choir committed to singing sacred music in Denver. He has directed choirs and orchestras since 1974 and has a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California.