The Knox Music Series presents “Christmas Miniatures,” a holiday concert of sacred music featuring the 50-voice Knox Choir, Knox Soloists and Orchestra at 4:00pm on Sunday, December 18, at Knox Presbyterian Church, 3400 Michigan Avenue, in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
The free concert includes Christmas miniature masterworks of J. S. Bach, MarcAntoine Charpentier, Gerald Finzi, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The 90-minute program is framed by two Bach works, opening with three festive movements from his Christmas Oratorio and closing with the three-movement Cantata No. 191 for Christmas Day, Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
Also included in the concert are two works by British composers, the In terra pax of Gerald Finzi, and the Fantasy on Christmas Carols of Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The final work is a sampling of excerpts from the Christmas Midnight Mass of French Baroque composer Charpentier.
As each of the five featured works is less than 15 minutes long, the entire program offers a 90-minute sampler of the best of the German and French Baroque (Bach and Charpentier) contrasted with the lyric works of the Romantic-Early twentieth century British composers (Finzi and Vaughan Williams).
Notes about the five Christmas miniature masterworks:
- J.S. Bach’s (1685-1750) complete Christmas Oratorio was originally presented in Leipzig, Germany over six days of the 1733-34 ChristmasEpiphany season. The Knox Choir gave the Cincinnati premiere of the complete Oratorio in 1985, the 300th anniversary of the birth of J.S. Bach.
- British composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956) set his In terra pax in 1954 for strings, soprano and baritone soloists, and choir on two verses of an English poem Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913 by Robert Bridges. The verses frame St. Luke’s account of the angels’ appearance to the shepherds.
- British composer Ralph Vaughan William’s (1872-1958) set his Fantasy on Christmas Carols in 1912 for baritone, choir, and orchestra on a series of folk carols collected in Southern England, interspersed with familiar carols.
- French Baroque composer Marc Antoine Charpentier (1634-1704) set his Christmas Midnight Mass (Messe de Minuit pour Noël) c. 1690 for soloists, choir, and orchestra entirely on eleven well-known folk-like French noëls (carols) most of which are based on dance rhythms.
- J.S. Bach “borrowed” and reworked three spirited movements from the Gloria section of his own Mass in B Minor to create Cantata 191 Gloria in excelsis for a Christmas morning Leipzig worship service, likely in 1743.
About Knox Church: Knox Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church, USA) is a growing, progressive church of approximately 1,100 members in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The church is known throughout the region for its community outreach and activism, music program, and active, diverse congregation. Worship services are Sundays at 9:15am and 11:00am. Adam Fronczek is Pastor and Head of Staff.
About the Knox Music Series: The Knox Music Series is an outreach program of Knox Presbyterian Church and is recognized for its outstanding contributions to the quality of life in Cincinnati. Cincinnati Magazine has cited the Knox Church music program as the “Best Church Music” in Cincinnati.