The combined Encore Chorale presented a wonderful and very entertaining holiday concert on December 16th on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Seven Encore Chorales with over 220 singers combined to perform before overflowing and enthusiastic audiences. They were joined by the Polymnia Bells, directed by Melodie Feather, Jean Keister Kellogg, soprano and Paul Nelson, trumpet.
The concert began with their signature holiday piece It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Eddie Pola and George Wyle. They have opened every holiday concert with this selection since 2001. Many singers sang without looking at the scores, smiling and truly enjoying the moment. The next piece, Sing We Now of Christmas, the singers were joined by the Polymnia Bells and soprano, Jean Keister Kellogg. The tempo was brisk and the entrances and cutoffs were sharp. Ms. Kellogg’s crystal clear voice soared above the chorale. Ms. Kellogg sang the lovely, gentle melody in Bless All the Children by Gustav Holst and Christina Rossetti and the choir beautifully complemented Ms. Kellogg’s warm, rich and expressive singing. One of the most beautiful moments in the concert was the stunning performance of Like the Snow, written by Vicki Tucker Courtney. The singers truly loved singing this piece, spinning out expressive phrases and singing with precise diction and gorgeous tone. The audience showed its appreciation. The tempo picked up with Gaudeamus Hodie which translates to "Let Us Rejoice Today." This is a festive piece, although in a minor key and the singers sang it with conviction. By the end, they were truly rejoicing.
The bells continued the concert with their sweet and angelic playing of Christmas Jubilation, written by Dan Edwards, ringing in the sounds of the season. The ringers ranged in age from a seventh grader to adults. They were a real joy to watch and hear.
The Encore Chorale continued with the well known Christmas Waltz by Julu Stein. The beautifully arched phrasing made for the perfect waltz feeling. The smiles on their faces said it all. They were having the time of their life on stage……..all 220 of them, ages 55 to 97.
The bells continued with a rousing and crowd pleasing On This Day Earth Shall Ring by Cathy Moklebust. The energetic and driving drum solo set the mood. A big applause!
Happy Hanukkah, written by Carol Boyd Leon of Fairfax, VA was rhythmic and melodious and a real joy to sing, especially with the composer in the audience.
The singers were joined by Paul Nelson on the trumpet. The trumpet obligato gaily complemented the vocal line and it was a true delight. After the piece ended, Ms. Boyd Leon came up to acknowledge the applause and the chorale. She was most pleased with the performance.
The concert kept building with the jubilant singing of Variations on Jingle Bells by John Pierpont, arranged by Mark Hayes. The singers were joined by the bells and Ms. Kellogg. The piece starts off with a “Barbara Streisand” singing of Jingle Bells, certainly not the Jingle Bells everyone knows, and the singers sang it with incredible energy and precision at a breakneck tempo. The piece has a waltz section, a great jazz variation, and then comes the masterpiece, the classical variation. Ms. Kellogg joined the singers for this variation, incorporating fabulous and precise coloratura singing. Her final cadence of this movement offered coloratura passages from Magic Flute and the Messiah. It was a complete hoot! The audience broke into applause and bravos, but the piece went on! The finale of the piece offers another Barbara Streisand variation with singers driving the rhythm, the bells ringing wildly and the soprano singing with fabulous high tones. It ended with a rousing eleventh chord, everyone giving it their all. The audience went wild and the singers accomplished a very difficult piece with finesse and great stage presence. It was a huge success.
Enjoy our photo slide show of the event. Click on the the first photo below to launch the slide show, then click on the right side of each photo to advance to the next slide - or click on any individual photo to view: