On Friday, December 6, at 8 p.m., St. Matthew’s Music Guild continues its 2019-2020 season of concerts at St. Matthew’s Church in Pacific Palisades with its annual Holiday Concert. The Choir and Soloists of St. Matthew’s Parish join forces with The Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s under the direction of Dwayne S. Milburn to perform beloved works from the baroque era.
The program begins with the Symphony No. 4 by English composer, William Boyce (1711-1779). Boyce’s instrumental music was immensely popular during his lifetime but went largely forgotten after his death, until British composer Constant Lambert began editing and performing the symphonies in the late 1920s. The Symphony No. 4 is a buoyant work characteristic of Boyce’s instrumental music and reminiscent of George Frederick Handel’s ceremonial music for English royalty.
The St. Matthew’s Choir soloists join the orchestra for the Magnificat by Francesco Durante. For many years this work was misattributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who died in 1736 at the age of 26. Later research revealed that the work was by Durante, Pergolesi’s teacher. Contrary to the grand operatic gestures favored by his fellow Neapolitans, the Durante’s Magnificat takes a light and joyful approach to the Song of Mary.
The Choir and Orchestra will present the Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), one of the enduring standards of the sacred holiday repertoire. Ordained at the age of 25, the Gloria is one of many works the “Red Priest” composed during the second of two teaching appointments at the Venetian orphanage, Pio Ospedale della Pietà (Devout Hospital of Mercy). Although his work with the orphans under his care earned great acclaim, his strained relationship with the board resulted in his dismissal in 1709. His absence lasted one year until the orphanage’s board realized his importance and recalled him with a promotion to Director of Music. He spent a total of 30 years at the orphanage before earning even greater fame as a composer of operas and chamber works. Still, the Gloria remains one of his most popular works.
The evening comes to a close with the traditional audience sing-along of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah.
Concert location: St. Matthew’s Church, 1031 Bienveneda Ave., Pacific Palisades. Tickets: $35 ($10 students with valid I.D.) available at the door or through MusicGuildOnline.org
Submitted by Thomas Neenan