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December 11, 2006: Reasons for happy

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Things that make me very happy today.

  • Chai spice, and hazelnut, coffee creamers (I may never go back to regular creamer again!)
  • Our new living room arrangement (I love it. Richard loves it. The cats love it. I am even rethinking my intense need to get new furniture because I love the new layout so much)
  • The batch of polenta I made this morning, currently cooling in the refrigerator and destined to become the base for what should be an incredibly delicious lasagna for tonight's dinner
  • Anticipation of an evening spent with yarn and pointy sticks and good friends.
  • Starting the week with a review (reprinted below) of our concert that is better than anything we could have ever dreamed.

New vocal ensemble Vox Musica delivers masterful program
By Edward Ortiz - Bee Arts Critic
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 11, 2006

It's a shame that some extremely enjoyable holiday music rarely gets played the rest of the year.

For who could argue against hearing Gustav Holst's sublime "In the Bleak Midwinter" or "Silent Night" anytime?

The seven-member female vocal ensemble Vox Musica made that argument a valid one with a superb performance of holiday choral music Saturday night at Sacramento's St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

This new vocal ensemble (they performed their first concert last spring) is a welcome addition to the music scene, and they proved it by delivering the goods on a smartly selected program by director Daniel Paulson. Choosing vibrant and temporally relevant works by six living composers to counterbalance choral masterpieces proved a smart move.

The highlight of the evening belonged to the ensemble's performance of the harmonically complex "A Nativity," by Englishman John Tavener. This provocative work uses its first soprano as the starting point from which other voices join in to sing dissonant notes. The ensemble connected with the haunting nature of the work, and the pliant singing gave it intense color.

Also noteworthy was "Ave Maria" by the Venezuelan composer Cesar Alejandro Carillo. The ensemble sang the dissonances of this work with a delicate touch that deepened the profundity of this evocative piece.

Among the area premieres was a work by Bay Area composer Kurt Erickson. The ensemble sang his "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" with punch and vigor. This is a rhythmically forceful work that is refreshing for the way it blends two older songs.

Some of the better performed works were older ones, including Tomas Luis de Victoria's "O Magnum Mysterium" from the Renaissance period. Here Paulson directed his singers towards a joyous interplay of polyphony and homophony.

And it's hard to imagine that the group's expressive and tonally focused turn on Holst's classic "In the Bleak Midwinter" has been done any better.

Tis the season for Holidailies

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