Bernstein Highlights Christmas at the Cathedral

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December 3rd, 2014

Omaha, NE — An Omaha holiday tradition returns once again.

[audio:http://www.kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/cath-web.mp3]
Photo by David Dunham.

Photo by David Dunham.

This weekend the Omaha Symphonic Chorus presents its annual Christmas at the Cathedral concerts. For these performances the Chorus will be joined by the Nebraska Wesleyan Choir, the Omaha Archdiocesan Youth Choir, and members of the Omaha Symphony. Chorus Director Dr. Greg Zielke says performing in St. Cecilia’s Cathedral presents opportunities to do things a little differently.

“We love singing in the space of the Cathedral,” he said. “Not only is it just so beautiful in terms of the setting, but using that space so people can hear music coming from all directions.”

The highlight of this year’s performance is a contemporary take on several very old texts:

“The centerpiece of the concert is the ‘Chichester Psalms’ by Leonard Bernstein,” Zielke said. “This piece I think is very appropriate for this period of Advent. The texts really begin to share with the audience this deep desire for reconciliation and peace.”

Despite the ancient origins of the text, Dr. Zielke says the music is distinctly modern.

“They pursued Bernstein with the idea of him intentionally giving some flavor of his ‘West Side Story’ music,” he said.

Other works on the program also look to music of the past.

“The ‘Gloria tibi dominae’ is a medieval tune that is set by Mack Wilberg, and it is extremely energetic and joyful, but it has a very unique, kind of a medieval melody because it is set in a modal harmony,” he said.

The second half of the program includes many audience favorites.

“Tunes like ‘Silent Night,’ ‘The First Noel,’ ‘What Child is This,’ ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas,’ ‘Ding-Dong Merrily on High’ – songs that people just love at Christmastime and we enjoy preparing,” said Zielke.

Performances of this year’s Christmas at the Cathedral are Friday, December 5 at 8 pm and Sunday, December 7 at 2 pm at Omaha’s St. Cecilia Cathedral. For tickets and more information, visit online www.omahasymphonicchorus.org.

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