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HOLIDAY MUSIC : Chorale Preparing a Notably Different Evening

Chris Pasles covers music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition

“Christmas is a time for singing,” says Orange Coast Chorale conductor Ted Reid. “People are particularly fond of choir concerts at the Christmas season, more so than at any other time of the year.”

But in a departure from the usual program of holiday carols and straight or sing-along “Messiahs,” Reid will direct the Orange Coast Chorale in Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Magnificat on Saturday at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

“One reason for doing it is that it’s great music,” Reid says. “But also, because we added concerts to our schedule this year, our operating budget is a little more tight and limited. This calls only for string orchestra.”

“It’s only about 14 minutes long, which is not so long that sustaining energy for a major work becomes a problem,” he adds.

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Set to Luke I: 46-55, the Magnificat is sufficiently Christmasy to warrant being included in a holiday program. The text is Mary’s spontaneous hymn of praise for being chosen to bear the Christ child.

“We try to do things that, first of all, are going to challenge the choir and keep them motivated through the long amount of time it takes to put the pieces together,” Reid says.

“Second, we do works that will be spiritually and intellectually stimulating to them and also that will provide, especially in the holiday season, more immediate mass appeal. We strive without pandering to the audience to try to make a program that a family can relate to immediately.”

The program will also include traditional seasonal works, as well as some “not quite as traditional” such as Benjamin Britten’s “Hymn to the Virgin,” Reid said. There will also be several carols to which the audience can sing along.

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The soloists--soprano Cynthia Snyder, mezzo Deborah Windsor-Williams, tenor Richard Riffel and baritone Todd Fitzpatrick--are professionals.

Pergolesi was an 18th-Century composer best known for his comic opera “La Serva Padrona” (The Maidservant Turned Mistress). He died of tuberculosis in 1736 at the age of 26. His popularity, especially posthumously, was so great that many composers foisted off their own compositions under his name in order to get them published and performed.

Scholars consider the bulk of the music published in the Collected Edition to be misattributed or of questionable authorship. The Magnificat probably was composed by Francesco Durante, Pergolesi’s teacher.

What: Ted Reid conducts the Orange Coast Chorale in Pergolesi’s Magnificat and other works.

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When: Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m.

Where: Robert B. Moore Theatre, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa.

Whereabouts: San Diego (405) Freeway to Fairview exit; south to Orange Coast College.

Wherewithal: $6 to $8.

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Where to Call: (714) 432-5880.


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