By Annabelle Ady
As part of their 20th anniversary season, the Palouse Choral Society will perform the holiday concert “Peace on Earth” this weekend in Uniontown.
“Peace On Earth” aims to capture the Christmas spirit from around the world and throughout history. Artistic and Music Director Paul Thompson and Executive Director Janice O’Toole talked to Inland 360 about what the audience can expect when more than 60 singers, including nine children, unite in song this weekend at St. Boniface Catholic Church which is known for its acoustics.
How do the songs in “Peace on Earth” tie together?
Thompson: This concert is programmed around the cathedral-like acoustic quality present in St. Boniface. All of the music in this concert would have been written to be performed in a cathedral. For example, we have music that will be performed from the loft that is to be heard and not necessarily seen. Some of the repertoire was chosen to incorporate our collaboration with Palouse Brass.
What is something new people might hear in this holiday lineup that they haven’t heard before?
Thompson: The (Daniel) Pinkham “Christmas Cantata” will be accompanied by a 10-piece brass choir which is something that most people have probably not had the opportunity to hear. We also have music from the late Middle Ages which is relatively uncommon and not often performed. Finally, we will be performing the Harold Darke setting of “In the Bleak Midwinter” which is not the commonly heard melody for the lyrics.
What is the most challenging piece in this performance for the singers?
Thompson: Due to the live acoustics in St. Boniface, Benjamin Britten’s “A Hymn to the Virgin” will be challenging because it is a double choir with an octet in the loft and the larger choir on the floor. The previously mentioned Pinkham “Christmas Cantata” may present challenges of its own as it combines the chorale and the Palouse Brass choirs.
It’s the society’s 20th anniversary season, are you doing anything special this year to mark that occasion?
O’Toole: In October, we kicked off our anniversary celebration by performing the favorites of our current and four previous conductors with our “Thanks for the Memories” concert. Our first conductor, Chuck Neufeld, and second conductor, John Weiss, both traveled from the other side of the country to join us and to conduct their favorites. It was a beautiful concert and a wonderful way to kick off our celebration.
Like many, maybe even most artistic organizations, we had humble beginnings. That we have come from $47 in coffee fund money to the strong, impactful musical arts organization that we are today is deeply gratifying and worthy of celebration. In that light, our April 18 and 19 concert will be a celebration of old and new. We will perform Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” for the first time since our inaugural concert in May 2000, as well as a newly commissioned work to celebrate both the joy of singing in a choir and this organization’s 20th anniversary.
Thompson: Arts organizations do not exist without the support of their community. We would like to convey a heartfelt message of humble gratitude to all who have invested in Palouse Choral Society.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Palouse Choral Society concert “Peace On Earth.”
WHEN: 6 p.m Saturday, Dec. 14 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.
WHERE: St. Boniface Catholic Church, 205 S St Boniface St., Uniontown.
COST: $20 adults, $8 students, free for children 12 and under.
Tickets available in advance at www.palousechoralsociety.org.