St. Irenaeus Music Ministry celebrated the Christmas season with performances by all four of the church’s choirs at their annual Noel Night Concert on Friday, December 6, 2019, at St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress. The Parish Choir, the Youth Choir, the Spanish Choir, and the Teen Ensemble all performed at the concert. There was a special performance by the quartet, the Charles Dickens Carolers, and the audience participated in singing carols between the choral performances. The concert was so impressive that some parishioners said that this was the best Noel Night concert at St. Irenaeus Church that they ever attended with professional performances by the soloists and instrumentalists.
Since the Noel Night concert featured Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in excelsis with solo voices, chorus, and orchestra, Dr. Kevin St. Clair, Director of Music at St. Irenaeus, gave some background information about Antonio Vivaldi and his music prior to the start of the concert. Dr. St. Clair has been preparing the Parish Choir for months to perform Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, and the choir responded to his direction with an outstanding performance.
The choir performed the 12 movements of Vivaldi’s Gloria, supported by the spectacular playing of the instrumentalists. The instrumentalists were Lucy Lu and David Chavez on violin, Chad Jackson on viola, Minna Im on cello, Hunter Hawkins on bass, Theresa Bickler on trumpet, Neda St. Clair on organ. The powerful vocal performances by the two soloists, soprano Belinda Gonzalez and mezzo-soprano Kimberly Switzer, showed why this piece is one the most popular Baroque works for chorus and orchestra.
Dr. St. Clair also directs the Youth Choir with Belinda Gonzalez as Assistant Director, and Neda St. Clair as piano accompanist. The Youth Choir performed three songs, “Come, Sing Your Thanks to the Lord, “All Night, All Day,” and “Songs of Christmas Joy.” One of the songs was accompanied by the flute playing of Kimberly Switzer. The audience included many parents, relatives and friends of the sixteen boys and girls in the choir, who came and applauded their singing.
The Charles Dickens Carolers came dressed in hats, coats, and dresses, like people who lived in England when Charles Dickens lived in the 1800’s. The carolers sang five songs in four-part harmony with soprano Amanda Keenan, alto Kimberly Switzer, tenor Joe Michels, and bass Ricky McKillips. The holiday songs they sang were traditional songs including “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Fum, Fum, Fum,” “Silent Night,” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” They added to the festive feeling of the holiday season.
The Spanish Choir was directed by Ali Landeros, who sang and accompanied the choir on piano. Alli and Ignacio Landeros also were arrangers for the Spanish Choir. The ten members of the Spanish Choir sang two songs, “El Nino Del Tambor” (The Little Drummer Boy), and “Campana Sobre Campana.” The Spanish Choir sang their songs with such enthusiasm that the audience joined in by clapping their hands to the rhythm of their music.
The Teen Ensemble was directed by Kimberly Switzer and accompanied by Ramesh Joseph on guitar, John Hendricks on bass, Anna Korody, on piano, and Jake Rodrizuez on drums. Vocalists for the ensemble included Kimberly Switzer, Kalena Dawson, Angel Duran, Kaylene Fabros, and Kirsten Fabros. The teens sang three new songs, “Emmanuel,” (Hallowed Manger Ground), “Follow the Light,” and “Leaving Heaven.” The Teen Choir introduced the audience to new inspirational music for Christmas with these songs.
Prior to the singing of the finale of the “Hallelujah Chorus” by G.F. Handel, the Parish Choir’s section leader, Christine Welsch, thanked Dr. Sinclair and his wife, Neda, for all the hours of work they both spent preparing the choir for this concert and for preparing music for the church every week. On behalf of the Parish Choir, bouquets of flowers were presented to Dr. Kevin and Neda by Angelina and Juliana Daubert, daughters of choir member Helen Kuo Daubert.
The concert ended with the Parish Choir singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus” and receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
Featured Photo: Pictured at the St. Irenaeus Catholic Church Noel Night concert in Cypress is Dr. Kevin St. Clair, directing the Parish Choir and instrumentalists as they performed Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in excelsis for solo voices, chorus and orchestra. Photo by Edna Ethington.