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Tuesday, December 10 2013

Oh Beautiful Star!

Adapted from a Greenfield Harmony press release:

The 75-member Greenfield Harmony Community Chorus will hold its annual holiday concert in an exciting new location, on Saturday, December 14th, at 7:30pm.  Wesley Methodist Church (98 Maple Street in Hadley) is a beautiful new church with vaulted ceilings known for its extraordinary acoustics. Led by Mary Cay Brass, Greenfield Harmony is a multi-generational chorus that performs an eclectic mix of community-based music from many cultural and musical traditions.

A typical Greenfield Harmony holiday concert opens with songs to celebrate the winter holidays. In that tradition, this year’s opener is the rousing carol, "Pentonville", from the vast repertoire of 18th century West Gallery songs sung in village churches throughout England. These carols were typically accompanied by a local village band and Greenfield Harmony has its own in-house village band accompanying the song. Continuing in the holiday spirit, the choir will sing a contemporary version of the Hebrew classic song of peace, "Hineh Ma Tov", by Rich Dworsky of Prairie Home Companion fame.

Having studied and worked in the Balkans in various capacities over the years, Mary Cay Brass cherishes the vibrant folk music traditions of the region. As a consequence, Greenfield Harmony audiences can always count on a generous selection of stirring, beautiful Balkan harmonies in each concert. The December 14th concert will feature three Macedonian songs learned last summer at the Village Harmony Music Camp in Macedonia. All three songs are dance songs around a theme of undying love accompanied by a Balkan band led by Brass on accordion, Walter Slowinski on clarinet, Joe Blumenthal on bass, and Richie Davis on percussion.

The Republic of Georgia is also home to a rich, unique, and very ancient polyphonic choral repertoire which Greenfield Harmony singers love to sing. This year’s song, "Erti Glekhi," is a hauntingly beautiful winter song about a hapless peasant searching for enough food for the winter months.

American folk music is an integral part of the wider world music community and is always part of Greenfield Harmony’s concert repertoire. This concert will feature the Appalachian song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" learned from the singing of the amazing Sweetback Sisters.

Each season, Greenfield Harmony hosts guest musicians/teachers who help them delve more deeply into other traditions. This season’s guest was John Harrison of the Montpelier, Vermont, Gospel Choir. His own soulful composition, "Grateful", will be led by soloists Amy Klippenstein and Christy Grecsek. The choir will also sing a rousing version of the 1973 funk classic "Yes We Can Can", recorded by the Pointer Sisters and arranged and taught by Harrison.

A dynamic freedom song from Mozambique, an early gospel quartet song, a Serbian orthodox chant, and more fill out this season’s exciting concert.

Another Greenfield Harmony concert tradition is to serve as a benefit for some local or global organization. This concert will raise money to further musical diplomacy between the US and the Republic of Macedonia by bringing three young Macedonian girls over to attend a New England-based Village Harmony singing camp. Admission for the 7:30pm concert on Saturday, December 14th, is $14/$10 (seniors and students). For information call (802) 869-4000 or see www.marycaybrass.com.

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