REVIEW: Welcome Christmas new work and traditional carols are ‘highlights of the Christmas choral season’

If you are wondering what you missed during the first weekend of Welcome Christmas concerts, these two reviews will fill you in and inspire you to attend one of this weekend’s performances.

“The highlight of this holiday season’s choral concerts will likely be A Light in the Stable, by English composer Alan Bullard, written expressly for VocalEssence and given its world premiere Friday night,” with disparate elements that “came together into a very satisfying whole,” writes William Randall Beard in his Star Tribune review. The second half, featuring Scandinavian carols, “was enlivened by the presence of fiddler Sara Pajunen, who added authenticity as well,” he writes, adding that “VocalEssence was at the top of its game, singing impeccably, making even the most complex harmonies sound transparent.”

Rob Hubbard writes in his Pioneer Press review that “Friday night’s first of local choral powerhouse VocalEssence’s Welcome Christmas concerts provided plenty of thick, warm harmonies to enwrap you.” The new Christmas cantata A Light in the Stable is “a very intriguing piece” in which composer Alan Bullard creates “a sound world all his own,” opines Rob. He notes that the concert’s second half, “A Nordic Christmas,” features seldom-heard fare, most of it sung in the native language of the composer or arranger. “Even when a melody was familiar—as on Michael Praetorius’ ‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’—it was swept up in something arrestingly unusual …”

Check out the full reviews, then make sure to attend a Welcome Christmas concert on Saturday, December 13 in Edina or Sunday, December 14 in Minneapolis; tickets are available online, by phone at 612-371-5656, and at the door.