Dwight “Buzz” Holmes conducts the Idyllwild Master Chorale’s 2011 Holiday Concert. File photo
The Idyllwild Master Chorale, one of Idyllwild’s lasting artistic traditions, is presenting some of the most beautiful music written for voices at its holiday concert, “Winter Solstice and Jazz Fusion.” All of the musical festivities are under the direction of Dwight “Buzz” Holmes, now celebrating his 25th year as IMC conductor and artistic director, having taken over from his father Robert Evans Holmes who founded the ensemble 36 years ago. Just as with a profusion of presents given in holiday exchange, there is a gift for everyone in IMC’s holiday offerings.

For those whose taste runs to the classical, there is Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” in twelve sections, taken from the Latin Mass. Although successful in his lifetime, Vivaldi died a pauper and the “Gloria,” now his most popular choral work, lay undiscovered until the 1920s. It was not until 1939 that the rediscovered “Gloria” was performed in modern times. Almost 20 more years later, in 1957, the now familiar original version was published and given its first performance. Soloists in the Vivaldi are locals Andrea Bond, Lori Palmer and Ruth Fountain.

Also on the classical bill is Cesar Franck’s ethereal “Panis Angelicus,” with John Fleming as soloist.

For lovers of modern choral music, there is USC Professor Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” which some have called one of the most hauntingly beautiful choral pieces ever written. Lauridsen is a multiple Grammy nominee and the 2007 recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the President.

The awards program noted Lauridsen was honored “for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power and spiritual depth that have thrilled audiences worldwide.”

“O Magnum Mysterium” is one of three of Lauridsen’s compositions that rank as the best-selling choral works ever distributed by Theodore Presser Company, the oldest continuing music publishers and distributors in the United States.

For the children and the children at heart, there are joyful and familiar Christmas carols, richly textured Hanukkah songs, and scintillating arrangements of other holiday favorites.

At a recent rehearsal, Buzz described hearing his father at the piano late at night playing a melody line over and over. “What’s that?” asked Buzz. “An idea for a Hanukkah song,” Robert Holmes said.

“Beams of Gentle Light,” for which Buzz contributed words, will be performed by IMC, as will Buzz Holmes’ lovely carol, “I Remember Christmas.”

To add a little holiday swing, the inestimable pleasures of jazz singer Sherry Williams and Idyllwild jazz icon Marshall Hawkins and his quintet will be on display. The quintet includes Daniel Jackson on tenor sax, Bob Boss on guitar, Brett Sanders on drums, Hawkins on bass, and John Rodby on piano. Williams and Hawkins and group serve up some hand-
clapping and sweet-sounding Christmas jazz, all backed by the IMC singers.

As if that holiday table were not already overflowing with sumptuous servings, a string orchestra will accompany the IMC singers.

IMC, Williams, Hawkins and Holmes appear at the Idyllwild School, at 7:30 Saturday, Dec. 22, and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23. Admission is available online at www.idyllwildmasterchorale.com or at the door for $20 for adults, $15 for groups of ten or more and $10 for those 12 years or younger.