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Sunday, May 28, 2023
Review: Enthralling performances at St. Marks Christmas concert

Jean Baker

Special to The Lake Report

A delightful musical journey through the Baroque period of the 18th century to carols interpersed with biblical readings foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ was featured at St. Mark’s Anglican Church on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Conductor Michael Tansley led both the orchestra and Newark Singers through two enthralling performances.

First was the Christmas Concerto by Italian composer Arcangel Corelli in six movements in G Minor featuring harpsichord played by Catherine Willard, supported by fine string players from the Niagara Symphony, led by violinist Vera Alekseeva.

The concerto introduced the audience to a brilliant composer with a reputation as a master violinist whose music was studied by J.S. Bach. Corelli was a bridge between music of the 17th and 18th centuries, a graduate of the Bolognese school trained in classical notation providing both grandeur and perfection.

Dr. Charles Burney, a renowned music historian, praised Corelli. “In their ensemble effect are majestic sounds, so solemn, so sublime, that they made us forget everything else composed in their style.”

The second half of the St. Mark’s program was beautifully performed by the Newark Singers, again under the direction of Tansley. It was truly “sweet music” to the listeners’ ears.

Mention must be noted of soprano soloist Julia Hooker. Her powerful voice singing in “What Sweeter Music” was very moving.

Some familiar carols were rearranged to give them a fresh voice, while others more traditional invited audience participation.

St. Mark’s Church, with its amazing acoustics and fine musicians, provided a wonderful musical prelude to the season of Christmas.

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