Canterbury is Bach 

On Sunday, the Canterbury Choral Society performs Baroque Christmas, its annual holiday concert featuring masterworks by Bach and Handel, whose Hallelujah richly captures the wholeness of the season’s spirit.

Randi Von Ellefson, Canterbury artistic director, will conduct the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and the Canterbury Chorus, composed of more than 100 volunteer singers.

“We love performing this concert, and our audience loves hearing it, because what could be more special during the holidays than hearing old music of this special season?” said Christine Jeffreys, Canterbury development director. “Music truly brings us all together in a spirit of cheer, goodwill and peace during this time of year more than any other.”

Handel was inspired by his studies of the Bible to write Messiah, which gives the audience three narratives of Christ: birth, crucifixion and resurrection. It is said that he completed the original score in a mere 24 days. It remains one of the most popular works in choral music and is considered a holiday hallmark.

Bach’s Magnificat is a sacred hymn of praise. The text, taken from St. Luke’s gospel, centers on Mary’s response when an angel announces that she will give birth to the savior.

The Magnificat opens with a dazzling chorus and a poised soprano solo.

The work contains a dozen musical sections intertwined with solo voices, mixed choruses and instruments such as flutes, trumpets, strings, cello, bassoon, harpsichord and organ.

“Even if one is not a great fan of classical music, every person should hear these great Christmas stories told so profoundly through music,” said Jeffreys.

The composers were both born in 1685 and spent their lives in neighboring cities in what is now Germany. Although Handel and Bach were among the most influential artists of their time, they never met.

Together, their Christmas pieces have a conversational naturalness.

“I look forward to this concert every year,” said Kay Holt, Canterbury executive director. “This music allows our audience the opportunity to receive an inspirational message.”

Following the concert, a reception with wassail (hot mulled cider) and holiday sweets will be held in the Civic Center’s lobby.

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