The New Mexico Symphonic Chorus to host holiday concert - Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Symphonic Chorus to host holiday concert

The New Mexico Symphonic Chorus will perform a holiday concert of Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” for the first time in 11 years on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Backed by the New Mexico Philharmonic and the Sunset Mesa School Choir, the concert will take place at 3 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, 3701 Carlisle Blvd.

Roger Melone

“Bach wrote what we call the ‘Christmas Oratorio’ to be done in six weeks, so it’s made up of six parts,” music and executive director Roger Melone said. “We’re doing two of those cantatas.”

The singers will perform part one, “Shout ye exultant this Day of Salvation” and part three, “Ruler of Heaven.”

The work belongs to a group of three oratorios written in 1734 and 1735 for major feasts, the other two works being the “Ascension Oratorio” and the “Easter Oratorio.”

“They’re very typical Bach Christmas (oratorios),” Melone said. “Number one tells the usual story of the birth of Christ.”

The third describes the adoration of the shepherds.

Local soloists Ingela Onstad (soprano), Jacqueline Zander-Wall (mezzo-soprano); Colin Burdge (tenor) and Michael Hix (baritone) will join the musicians.

Soprano Ingela Onstad

Burdge sings with the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus.

“He’s a Gonzaga (University) graduate,” Melone said.

Baritone Michael Hix

Both Onstad and Hix teach at the University of New Mexico. Zander-Wall founded the Vocal Artistry Art Song Competition.

Eleven years ago, “Christmas Oratorio” was the last piece the singers performed with the old New Mexico Symphony before it folded in 2011. At the time, the chorus was part of the symphony.

“We reincorporated on our own in 2010,” Melone said.

“That spring when the orchestra folded, we had already been invited to Vail, Colorado, to sing with the Rochester Philharmonic to sing the Mozart Requiem,” Melone said. “That’s probably why we’re still together. It forced us to say, ‘We’re not stopping now.’ ”

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