Idyllwild Master Chorale serves up Vivaldi and jazz: First holiday fusion concert at the Lowman Concert Hall

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Soloist John Flemming sings with the Idyllwild Master Chorale during its annual holiday performance in 2015 at the IAF Theatre at Idyllwild Arts.
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The Idyllwild Master Chorale presents “Viva Vivaldi,” IMC’s always popular holiday fusion concert — serving up Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and other chorale confections and then, after intermission, a jubilant jazz holiday sampler. 

And with choral music where dynamics matter, where pianissimo often goes unheard in many halls, Idyllwild’s new concert gem Lowman Concert Hall provides state-of-the-art acoustics. 

This is the first time IMC will be staging its holiday concert at Lowman, and for lovers of choral music who want to hear and appreciate every subtlety, this will be a concert to remember. “Our humble first concert 41 years ago leads us today to the realization of the dream of many, including founders Max Krone and Robert Holmes, of a day in the future where musicians could thrive in a hall with excellent acoustics,” said Dwight “Buzz” Holmes, IMC artistic director and conductor. “Now that dream is a reality.” (Robert founded IMC and was Buzz’s father.)

In addition to Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” Holmes is also featuring a double bill of America’s leading contemporary choral composer Morten Lauridsen in “O Magnum Mysterium,” and “O Nata Lux” from his requiem “Lux Aeterna” (Eternal Light). Both are exquisite and harmonically evocative pairings of text and tonality — each a triumph of spirit and of light over dark.

IMC singers request Lauridsen’s music as often as Holmes can program it because of its ethereal beauty. There is something deeply moving about the way Lauridsen writes and arranges — where silence plays a part, and tempo changes linger on shimmering chords and then gently move on. 

Holmes’ connection to Lauridsen’s music runs deep. He studied composition with him at the University of Southern California where Lauridsen, 2007 Medal of Arts recipient, remains on faculty as Distinguished Professor of Composition. Also featured in the first half of “Viva Vivaldi” are Christmas pieces arranged by Robert Shaw, Alice Parker and Norman Luboff.

One of the reasons for the December concert’s popularity is the post-intermission jazz fusion segment. Marshall Hawkins grooves with his group of six, Sherry Williams and John Fleming vocally soothe and sizzle. Williams and the chorale join in a world premier of a John Rodby medley arrangement of “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “Little Drummer Boy,” funded by a grant from the Idyllwild Community Fund.

The “Viva Vivaldi” entrée, side dishes and jazz desserts are served beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students, available online at www.idyllwildmasterchorale.org, at Prairie Dove on North Circle and at the door. Call 951-659-2650 for more information. 

Visit the website for information about a post-Sunday intimate “Afterglow Gala Fundraiser” at the Grand Idyllwild Lodge. Tickets are limited.

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