The Idyllwild Master Chorale performed its annual concert “I Remember Christmas” Saturday, Dec. 21.
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

With the potential for a white Christmas (or at least a wet Christmas) on the horizon, and a cover of gray skies for the Hillfolk, the annual presentation of Idyllwild’s Master Chorale was proving to be unpromising for both attendance and programmatic reasons. 

Artistic Director Dwight Holmes’ choices seemed at first glance uninspiring for his chosen theme — one would have expected to “remember” the upcoming holidays with a bit more of the familiar pieces — but with more of the unknown, and an eschewing of the usual “Messiah” excerpts (for one example), a pleasant vehicle for memory was performed for a grateful, if less than full, audience response.

The concert start proved inspirational enough, with the two soloists in the Vivaldi Concerto for two trumpets and strings (Richard Candelaria and James Sherry) giving forth themes of joy in all three short movements. The three sections from the Vivaldi “Gloria” were equally uplifting. 

There followed four sections of three carols each, from the French, Spanish, English and contemporary American traditions, with the last two following older texts in newer musical formats and in the case of the last three selections, those generally familiar from previous holiday offerings, and including Holmes’ title piece. 

In general, a solid performance from all forces was evinced and auditors’ reactions were more than evidence of an overall enjoyment.

A shortened set of jazz-inspired pieces for the Idyllwild perennial Sherry Williams — from the works of her devoted composer/arranger John Rodby — closed the program and provided (at least for this listener) a more than satisfactory conclusion. 

Both “One Lone Candle” and Rodby’s medley of three traditional carols in modernized format were delivered with Williams’ usual melodic aplomb. The final “Some Children See Him” brought out ever more a plea for cultural unity in diversity. The response was significantly greater than for the larger choral works, but the general appeal was felt throughout.

The audience’s delight was ever apparent as it passed in procession through the brisk air to the year’s final weeks and with a wish for better times and accomplishments ahead.