Eastman School of Music singers and baroque instrumentalists will present Heinrich Schütz’s The Christmas Story (Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18, as part of the Third Thursday Concert with Eastman’s Italian Baroque Organ series at the Memorial Art Gallery.
Schütz’s The Christmas Story presents the Nativity story in a series of colorful musical tableaux, interspersed with musical narration by a tenor Evangelist. The gallery concert is presented 350 years after the first publication of this work in 1664.
Schütz (1585-1672) is often regarded as the greatest German composer of the 17th century; his compositional achievements elevated German music to a position of new importance in Europe. In Schütz’s The Christmas Story, the Nativity narrative is brought to vivid life in a musical setting that continues to be a favorite with audiences today. His colorful score captures the angelic echoes of the Heavenly Host, the gentle song of the Angel, the pastoral piping of the Shepherds, the urgent footsteps of the Wise Men, and King Herod’s irritable fury.
Thatcher Lyman, a doctoral student in organ performance at the Eastman School of Music, will perform the tenor role of the Evangelist. He is director of music at The Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word and assistant director of the Schola Cantorum vocal ensemble at Christ Church. Käthe Wright Kaufman, a junior studying organ at Eastman, will sing the soprano role of the Angel. She is the first recipient of the VanDelinder Prize in Liturgical Organ Skills at Christ Church and is a member of Schola Cantorum. Baritone Alan Cline, a master’s student in vocal performance at Eastman, will perform the role of Herod. Cline has appeared as a soloist with the Eastman Chorale and Eastman Repertory Singers and will be Mr. Webb in Eastman Opera Theatre’s upcoming production of Ned Rorem’s Our Town.
Instrumentalists include faculty and students from Eastman School of Music: Christel Thielmann and Beiliang Zhu, viols and baroque recorder; Arda Cabaoglu, trumpet; Glenna Curren, baroque cello; Ryaan Ahmed, theorbo; and Naomi Gregory, organ. Boel Gidholm, baroque violin, of Publick Musick will lead the instrumental ensemble.
Eastman’s Italian Baroque Organ was built around 1770 in central Italy. Restored and installed in 2005 at the Memorial Art Gallery, the instrument is the only one of its kind in North America. The organ’s beautiful, authentic sounds have been heard by thousands of people who have come to the weekly Sunday mini-recitals and the special monthly concerts by internationally known guest artists and Eastman musicians.
Admission to the concert is included in Gallery admission, which is half-price on Thursday nights and free to UR student ID holders. This concert is made possible by the Rippey Endowed Trust.
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