Holidays. Harmony. Hope.

December 8, 2023, 8:00 pm
Old South Church

645 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116

Map • Phone: 617-267-7442

Chorus pro Musica presents a festive holiday program that brings together the warmth of choral voices and the majestic resonance of Old South Church’s Skinner organ for an evening of music, hope and light in the dark of winter.

The main feature of the program will be James Kallembach’s The Tryal and Examination of Old Father Christmas, originally commissioned and premiered by CpM in 2014, featuring baritone Craig Juricka as the Judge.

Other favorites include a candlelight processional, Old South Church’s Mitchell Crawford on the organ, works by John Rutter, Gwyneth Walker, and more!

  • John Rutter: Angels’ Carol
  • Luis Eduardo Galián: Esta bella noche
  • Katerina Gimon: All Together We Are Love
  • André Thomas: The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
  • Gwyneth Walker: The Tree of Peace
  • James Kallembach: The Tryal and Examination of Old Father Christmas

Come and sing carols with us!

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem (arr. Vaughan Williams)
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • Night of Silence/Silent Night
  • Joy to the World

A Note From Our Music Director

Welcome to Holidays. Harmony. Hope!

Tonight’s concert is full of diverse, dramatic, and festive pieces for the holidays. Many of the works may be new to you, but we have also included CpM favorites from the past, plus sing-along carols!

We are thrilled to return to James Kallembach’s The Tryal and Examination of Old Father Christmas, a work CpM commissioned and premiered here in Old South Church in 2014. Also featured are Luis Eduardo Galián’s stirring Esta Bella Noche; Katerina Gimon’s soaring All Together We Are Love; Gwyneth Walker’s powerful The Tree of Peace; and André Thomas’s rousing The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.

We are honored to be working once again with organist Mitchell Crawford, Old South Church’s Minister of Music; Alejandro Chavez, on cuatro; Craig Juricka, baritone, as the Judge; and numerous CpM singers performing solos and playing a wide variety of instruments!

We sing thinking of loved ones lost this past year; our dear friends and family; and the millions around the world facing unimaginable pain and suffering amid war and conflict. We are so blessed to be here with you tonight. May this concert help us all “listen to one another,” and plant more “trees of peace” in the new year ahead.

Thank you for joining us. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season.

—Jamie Kirsch

Program and notes

Jamie Kirsch, Music Director
Mitchell Crawford, organ and piano

Prelude: Pastorale on “Forest Green” by Richard Purvis

Processional: Dona nobis pacem by Anonymous

Sing-along Carol: O Come, All Ye Faithful by J.F. Wade, arranged by David Willcocks
Music and words: Adeste Fideles by John Francis Wade (1740). Written at a time of Catholic-Protestant conflict in England, the carol may have begun as a Jacobite birth ode to Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of the exiled Catholic King James II, proclaiming, “Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English: Bonnie Prince Charlie!” Today it is one of the most most-loved Christmas hymns.

Angels’ Carol by John Rutter
John Rutter (b. 1945), an English composer, is best known for his sacred choral works and long association with the Cambridge Singers, a choral group he founded. He wrote both the lyrics and the music for Angels’ Carol. The opening text, “Have you heard the sound of the angel voices?” is answered by the words from the Gospel of Luke, 2:14: “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” the annunciation to the shepherds in the field of the coming of Christ. In a recent article in the New York Times, Rutter was described as a composer so identified with Christmas that he has all but earned a place with the kings and shepherds by the manger.

Esta Bella Noche by Luis Eduardo Galián
featuring Alejandro Chavez, cuatro; Angel Marcello Yepes Henao, drum; Carlos Yepes, bass

Esta Bella Noche (This Beautiful Night), by the Venezuelan composer and lyricist Luis Eduardo Galián, evokes the magical aura of traditional Christmas celebrations in Venezuela in which families gather around the Pesebre, or homemade manger nativity scene. Families would sing aguinaldos (Christmas songs) with cuatros (four-string guitars) and maracas against the rumble of firecrackers in the street. The joy of the celebration reverberates through the music.

All Together We Are Love by Katerina Gimon
Katerina Gimon is a young Canadian composer with a broad range of eclectic styles ranging from the Ukrainian folk traditions of her heritage to contemporary indie rock and beyond. On her website she notes that All Together We Are Love “relays a simple and important message—that all together we make the world a more beautiful place.”

Sing-along Carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams
O Little Town of Bethlehem was written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks, the rector of Trinity Church, just a few blocks from where we sit tonight. It was set to two tunes: one by Brooks’s organist, Lewis Redner, which is more common in the United States and the other—the one performed this evening—by Ralph Vaughan Williams, more commonly used in the United Kingdom. 

Dreidel arranged by Adam Paltrowitz
Dreidels are a central part of the celebration of Hanukkah for Jewish children everywhere. The Hebrew letters on the four sides of the spinning tops stand for the words “a great miracle happened here.” Adam Paltrowitz, the arranger of this version of the song, writes: I improvised this arrangement about 10 years ago; my choir and I were discussing the lack of “festive” Hanukkah pieces. ‘Dreidel,’ a child’s Hanukkah song, seemed like the perfect ‘spin’ for an audience surprise. We improvised the bass and tenor part to sound like a fun ‘bounce.’ We then created a harmony and counter melody with the altos. Next, we improvised some creative staging and a ‘serious’ ending.”

The Tree of Peace by Gwyneth Walker
Composer Gwyneth Walker writes: The text for The Tree of Peace is adapted from the Quaker poem O Brother Man by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). This adaptation of the poem broadens the scope of the original with more inclusive language, opening with: “O, my sister and my brother, all who walk upon this earth, fold to your hearts each other.” A new text fragment, “Listen, listen to one another,” is introduced into the poem, and serves as an interlude between stanzas. The final sentence of the original poem becomes the focal point of this work, returning many times: “Love shall tread out the fire of anger, and in its ashes plant a tree of peace.” The musical setting reflects the dual nature of the title, “Tree” (strength) and “Peace” (tenderness).

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy by André J. Thomas
Featuring Kim Petot, claves; Brooke Joynes, shaker; Angel Marcello Yepes Henao, conga

Traditional (West Indian); arranged by André J. Thomas (b. 1952).Thomas grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He has degrees from Friends University (where he sang under Jester Hairston), Northwestern, and the University of Illinois. Currently he is a professor at Florida State University and artistic director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus.

Sing-along Carol: The Holly and the Ivy, arr. Alice Parker/Robert Shaw
The Holly and the Ivy is a traditional Christmas song, first standardized in England in the early 19th century. Holly has long been associated with the figure of Christ with its spiky leaves evocative of the crown of thorns and the red berries of drops of blood; the ivy represents the figure of Mary. But there are sources that suggest that the song is actually pre-Christian in origin and that the symbols of the holly for men, and ivy for women, represent their ability to survive and stay green through the winter.

The Tryal and Examination of Old Father Christmas by James Kallembach
Featuring Craig Juricka, Judge; John Crawford, Gregory Grudgemeat; Anthony Amoroso, Mr. Allwork; Gia Greene, Mrs. Prudence

The Tryal and Examination of Old Father
Christmas: A Masque for Choir and Organ


THE TRYAL AND EXAMINATION of OLD Father CHRISTMAS, Together with his Clearing by the JURY, At the Assizes held at the Town of Difference, in the County Of Discontent. Written according to Legal Proceeding, by Josiah King together with quotations of the HOLY Psalmes set to newly composed Musick by James Kallembach, upon his hearing of the sale of THE BAY PSALM BOOK owned by OLD SOUTH CHURCH, it being the first booke published in English in what is now commonly called The United States, and being also the most costly ever to be sold at Publick Auction.

Night of Silence by Daniel Kantor, arranged by Marilyn Biery
Text: Daniel Kantor. Arranged by Marilyn Biery. Sung simultaneously with Silent Night (a type of song called a quodlibet); Kantor was inspired by both the wintertime imagery of his Wisconsin home as well as by the Advent season. He notes, “Advent is about preparation and anticipation . . . it first calls us to a spiritual presence grounded in quiet emptiness and expectant hope, and then asks us to trust in this silence.”

Sing-along Carol: Joy to the World by Lowell Mason, arranged by David Overton
Music: Lowell Mason (1792–1872), from Antioch. Text: adapted from Isaac Watts (1674–1748), based on Psalm 98.

Postlude: Fanfare on “Antioch” by Gerre Hancock

Chorus pro Musica gratefully acknowledges Mary E. Wolf, sponsor of tonight’s performance.

Chorus pro Musica bios

Jamie Kirsch, Chorus pro Musica
Music Director

A native of Merrick, New York, Jamie Kirsch received a Doctorate of Music from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2008. He also holds degrees from the Yale School of Music and UNC–Chapel Hill. Dr. Kirsch is Senior Lecturer of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Tufts University, where he conducts the Tufts Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, and teaches music theory and conducting. 2023–2024 marks his 11th season as Music Director of Chorus pro Musica.

Recent CpM performances include the world premiere of James Kallembach’s Audubon; world premieres of Andy Vores’s In Childhood’s Thicket and Spencer the Rover; Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis; Stravinsky’s Les Noces; Carol Barnett’s The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass; David Lang’s the little match girl passion; and Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel.

Dr. Kirsch lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife, Dr. Diana Lemly, and their two children, Amelia and Henry.

Terry Halco, Chorus pro Musica Accompanist

Terry Halco is active as an accompanist, organist, and singer. He received his musical training at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, and at the New England Conservatory.

Mr. Halco is the Director of Music at Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church in Cambridge, and is the accompanist for the chamber chorus Musica Sacra, the Westford Chorus, and the choruses of the University of Massachusetts–Boston. He has been the accompanist for the Emerson College Chorale and the Simmons College Chorale, with which he toured England and Puerto Rico. He has also performed with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the vocal ensemble Capella Alamire.

Mitchell Crawford (organ and piano)

Mr. Crawford is Minister of Music at Old South Church in Boston. A native of southwest Virginia, he holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Florida State University, where he was awarded a conducting fellowship. Mr. Crawford has appeared as a recitalist at Harvard and Princeton Universities, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and numerous churches. Though his primary focus is on performance, he is fascinated by the history of music and has pursued advanced studies in musicology and music theory. A lover of nature and wildlife, he enjoys the outdoors, where he may often be found adventuring with his dog, Dale.

Craig Juricka (baritone)

Boston-based baritone Craig Juricka is an energetic vocal pedagogue and performer. Praised by OperaToday as an “engaging, malleable baritone,” his versatile performance career has brought him to concert, musical theatre, and opera stages around the nation.

Most recently, Mr. Juricka was seen in the Boston Pops production of Ragtime as Harry K. Thaw/Lower East Side Ensemble and the Franklin Performing Arts Company’s Little Mermaid as King Triton. Some favorite credits include Pandolfe (Cendrillon), Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), Owen Hart (Dead Man Walking), and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast). During the summers of 2021 and 2018, he was featured as an apprentice artist with Des Moines Metro Opera. In 2017, he was a national finalist in the Classical Singer Competition (Emerging Classical & Musical Theatre Professional Division) in Chicago.

In the concert singing world, Mr. Juricka is a sought-after soloist and chorister. He sings regularly with the choruses of Handel & Haydn Society, Odyssey Opera, Boston Baroque, Boston Camerata, and Emmanuel Music. As a Choral Scholar at Marsh Chapel, he has performed as a soloist in various Bach cantatas, large concert works, and new music.

Mr. Juricka’s approach to singing is rooted in his cross-trained background as a singer. Comfortable in teaching all genres, his students range in age, beginners to professionals, though primarily he works with active singing professionals. His students can be seen working on Broadway (Funny Girl), National Tours, and in regional theatre and opera houses around the nation. His goal as a voice teacher is to help students access their strengths and develop their weaker areas so they can become reliable and employable singers. Mr. Juricka holds voice faculty appointments with The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Berklee College of Music, and The Walnut Hill School of the Arts. He also maintains a private studio in Melrose, Massachusetts.

Mr. Juricka holds a Master of Music in Vocal Pedagogy from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, as well as professional affiliations with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and Early Music America. He is the current vice president of the Boston NATS Chapter. In 2016, he received his Bachelor of Music from Capital University in Vocal Performance, with an emphasis on opera and musical theatre.

Mr. Juricka is a proud member of AEA (Actor’s Equity Association).

Alejandro Chavez (cuatro)

As with many Venezuelan string players, Alejandro Chavez started playing the cuatro at a very early age, performing in public for the first time when he was six years old.

Mr. Chavez’s formal music education started at age seven at Escuela de Musica Pablo Castellanos, the conservatory in his hometown, La Guaira, where he learned music theory and classical guitar from Eric Colon and Leopoldo Igarza. At age 12 he decided to continue playing on his own, which gave him the opportunity to add folk and contemporary pieces to his mostly classical repertoire. This mix of classical training and “playing by ear” self-training helped him develop the skills that define his essence as a musician. “When I listen to music,” he says, “what I hear is music notation. I then transfer the notes onto my instrument and that’s what you hear when I play.”

In addition to the cuatro, Mr. Chavez plays classical, Baroque and Renaissance guitars, and hand percussion instruments.

Since moving to Boston in 2000, Mr. Chavez has played with Rumbarroco, a Latin and Baroque fusion ensemble that explores the impact of early music and instruments, brought by Spanish conquerors, on contemporary Latin music. He has also performed with Fran Vielma & the Venezuelan Jazz Collective in Washington, DC, and accompanied Chorus pro Musica in past concerts.