Holiday concert introduces new scores, Lineup features new music, classics, global music

The Lafayette concert choir and chamber singers will hold their annual holiday concert Saturday, promising a mix of old and contemporary tunes, including one new composition.

Directed by associate professor of music Jennifer Kelly, the groups will perform seasonal classics such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Silver Bells.”

Along with these western holiday classics, the concert will feature a performance of the popular Spanish carol “Riu Riu Chiu,” which references the Immaculate Conception and birth of Christ.

“Wanting Memories,” composed by Ysaye Barnwell and popularized by the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, will also be preformed. The song draws from African-American and Latin cultures, expressing poignant themes of aging and finding small beauties in old memories. Barnwell wrote “Wanting Memories” after the death of her father, when she found bags of photos and memorabilia while cleaning out her childhood home.

Kelly has placed significance on performing and commissioning new works from contemporary composers, specifically composers from her book “In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States.” Alice Parker, who wrote the new composition that is being performed by both groups, was one composer Kelly interviewed for her book. Parker received a master’s degree from the Julliard School and went on to publish folk songs and spirituals. Parker studied modern dance in college and the movement inherent in dance inspired the fluidity of her musical work.

In Kelly’s book, Parker emphasizes the importance of the interaction between the singers, the moment and the conductor.

“It’s going to be different every single time,” Parker said in the book. “I’m not going to try to make it come out the way it is on the page, or the way anyone else has done it. How does it work right now, with this group, in this hall? I want it to be alive.”

Her belief in unique performances is reflected in her take on notating music. Parker minimally marks her score, leaving much of the performance of the piece up to interpretation. The piece Parker commissioned for the concert choir, “Come Unto these Yellow Sands,” interpreted by Kelly should be a singular musical experience not to be missed.

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