5 Sunday / December 5, 2021

Benjamin Britten: St. Nicolas, Ceremony of Carols

03:00 pm
St. Mark's United Methodist Church

On Sunday, December 5th, 2021, the Bloomington Chamber Singers will present a program of seasonal works by English composer, Benjamin Britten. Culminating with Britten’s dramatic oratorio, Saint Nicolas, Op. 42, the program will also feature one of Britten’s best-known and most-performed works, A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28. Conducted by musical director, Gerald Sousa, the concert will take place at 3 pm at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Bloomington, (100 State Road 46, Bloomington, IN).

Saint Nicolas, a dramatic jewel of a cantata, depicts traditions surrounding the 4th-century St. Nicolas of Myra, whose yearly feast day falls on December 6th. Britten’s oratorio focuses on the history, life, faith, and miracles associated with this early Christian bishop, whose reputation for aid to children and the poor has been regarded as one of the inspirations for the figure of Santa Claus. The chorus sings in the introduction, “Strip off your glory, Nicolas!” asking him to reveal the man behind the legends. Britten’s Saint Nicolas premiered in 1948 with Peter Pears featured as tenor soloist; in the current production, the role of Nicholas will be sung by BCS tenor, Patrick Conklin. Crozier’s libretto invites the audience to join in singing two beautiful hymns at key moments: ‘All people that on earth do dwell’ and ‘God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.’

Also on the program is Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, a charming work written for treble voices with harp accompaniment. The text, taken from 14th-century Middle English lyrics and carols, as well as from seasonal poetry written in the 16th century, draws upon familiar seasonal themes: the baby, Jesu; Mary, the rose of virtue who bore him; the “happy fault” of Adam’s sin that led to Christmas joy. Sung with sensitive attention to earlier forms of English poetry, Ceremony of Carols evokes enchanting musical atmospheres: from the freezing cold of an English winter, to the chirping birds of early spring, or April dew falling on the flower. Britten composed A Ceremony of Carols for his own difficult times, while traveling from the United States to England on a cargo vessel in dangerous waters at the height of World War II. Both of these works offer musical reflection on transformed hope and healing in a world marked by suffering and pain.

Focusing on authentic performance practice, the Chamber Singers’ passionate connections to the music shine through every performance. An auditioned group of about 45 singers now in its 51st season, the choir is committed to attaining the highest standards of choral music, and to safe public performances. Monroe County COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

Tickets: $15 General Admission, available at the door or online.

Entertainment / Live Music

5 Sunday / December 5, 2021

Friends of MCPL Bookstore

03:00 pm to 09:00 pm on Dec 23
Monroe County Public Library

Do you need a stocking stuffer or last minute gift? The Friends of the Monroe County Public Library Bookstore has gift certificates for sale. Through December, get a tree ornament with a certificate purchase. The Bookstore is located on the first floor of the Library at 303 E. Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington. The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 11 AM–7 PM, Friday and Saturday 11 AM–5 PM, and Sunday 1–5 PM. The Bookstore is also accepting donations of lightly used books, DVDs, etc. All proceeds support the programs offered by the Library.


5 Sunday / December 5, 2021

Christmas with the Celts

03:30 pm to 05:30 pm
Buskirk-Chumley Theater

First there was Riverdance, then Celtic Woman, now the popular PBS Pledge show Christmas with The Celts which is touring across the U.S. The national PBS show Christmas with The Celts aired on 222 PBS channels across the U.S., Canada and on the BBC in Ireland.

The Celts mix lively traditional Irish music and instrumentation with American pop music and their own originals. The Celts lineup stars, Ric Blair on vocal-guitar-bodhran & piano along with the lovely Sinead Madden from Dublin, Ireland on vocal and fiddle complemented by an array of top-flight musicians on uilleann pipes, Irish whistles, fiddle, bodhran, banjo, five-string bass, drums and of course, the crowd-pleasing Irish dancers.

Some of the musicians that have performed with The Celts include Donegal fiddler Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Irish singer Cathy Jordan from Roscommon, Ireland, Riverdance piper Ivan Goff, from Dublin and Braveheart/Titanic Movie piper Eric Rigler just to name a few. The Celts perform in venues around the world including The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Lincoln Center, and many other Performing Arts Centers, Theaters, and major Casinos. The Celts have also shared the stage with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, John Anderson, Tim O’Brien and many others. The Christmas with The Celts PBS pledge show was so successful that it was aired country wide for three years.

In 2015, The Celts appeared on PBS TV show Music City Roots and will soon host another PBS special called Roots of Great American Music which will feature some the top Country music, Irish music, and Pop music stars on the planet. The Celts are booked by MPI Talent Agency and managed by the well known entertainment industry figure, Bruce Garfield.

Ric Blair, founder of The Celts’ was a promising jazz major at the University of Cincinnati’s prestigious College Conservatory of Music until a chance encounter changed the entire course of his life. “A buddy of mine said, ‘Hey there’s this Irish group playing tonight,’ American-born and Nashville-based Blair remembers. It took a little prodding, but he agreed to give the concert a shot. “I opened the doors, and people were literally dancing on the tables,” says Blair. “The music was so happy. As soon as I heard the pipes and Irish whistle, something in my blood hit me and said ‘this is what I want to do’.” Today, Blair reigns as one the country’s most respected purveyors and historians of Celtic music.

He and his band, The Celts, pack concert halls all across North America. Blair credits the group’s popularity to their unique blending of Celtic traditional instruments and modern hit songs and sounds, as well as the success of their PBS-TV Christmas special Christmas with The Celts. “I’m proud of my Irish/Scottish roots, but I am equally proud of my American music roots. So, our music has become a product of merging the two cultures.”

Christmas With The Celts is the brainchild of producer Ric Blair. Mr. Blair reigns as one the country’s most respected purveyors of Celtic music. American-born, he credits the popularity of the Christmas With The Celts concert presentation and the nationwide broadcasting of the show as a PBS-TV special to his unique blend of modern Christmas standards and sounds with the spirit and sounds of Celtic roots.

The high-stepping spirited musical selections will have audiences clapping along from the first lively renditions of popular contemporary Christmas classics: ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’; also ‘Count Your Blessings’, ‘White Christmas’ and John Lennon’s perennial ‘Happy Christmas’. The show presents the perfect combination of ancient Irish Carols, contemporary Christmas standards, spontaneous humor and thrilling Irish dancing giving audiences a most memorable Christmas experience.

The first live performance of Christmas With The Celts was filmed in front of a sold-out audience at Nashville’s prestigious Ryman Auditorium. The Celts’ lineup features founder Ric Blair on vocals, guitars, bodhran, and piano, Laura McGhee on vocals and Scottish Fiddle, plus an ensemble of world class musicians playing uilleann pipes, Irish whistles, drums, mandolin, banjo plus always crowd pleasing Irish step dancers.

Christmas with The Celts isn’t just a concert; it is a celebration of the holiday spirit, people, community and common connections. It’s about bringing young and old together to celebrate this special time of year. You can’t listen to Celtic flavored music and not be happy.

Doors open at 2:30pm for this reserved seating event. The estimated length of the program is 2 hours. Wearing a mask is required in the building per Monroe County Mandate. You may take your mask down to consume concessions then it is required to put it back on. Vaccine verification or negative COVID test results within 48 hours required to enter the venue.

Dance / Entertainment / Live Music

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