To the editor:
The Northern Lights Choir's performance of Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols," directed by Helen Demong Friday, Dec. 13 at St. Bernard's Church, deserves the thanks of all in the community for showcasing talented area musicians. With Elizabeth Huntley's harp mastery and the piano support of Tom Delahant, the singers presented a work whose artistry befits its Yuletide subject matter. While on a wartime trans-Atlantic sea voyage in 1942, Britten composed music for Middle English Christmas verse from "The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems."
First the choir sang Praetorius' carol "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" and "Angel's Carol" by John Rutter. The men sang two arrangements by James Engel: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Of the Father's Heart Begotten" based on Aurelius Prudentius' ancient Latin poem "Corde Natus," in which Christopher Gould performed a solo. After Mark Burrow's wonderful arrangement of "Huron Carol" and an engaging, gospel-style Keith Hampton composition, "Praise His Holy Name" featuring Andrew Benware at the piano and Keith Kogut, solo, the assembly took a brief intermision and returned poised for the main feature, beginning with the women standing in the aisles singing "Procession."
Ms. Jennie Frenette sang solo in "That Yonge Child," and the Rev. Ann Gaillard soloed in Mary's lullaby to Jesus, "Balulow." Frenette and Laura Duncan sang duet in "Spring Carol," A select ensemble highlighted "In Freezing Winter Night": Andrew Benware, Mark Coleman, George Cook, Laura Duncan, Jennie Frenette, Sue Grimm Hanley, David Johnson, Andy Keal, Keith Kogut, Heidi Kretser and Julie Weinstein. Britten's setting of the other poems were sung by the entire ensemble.
After a career as a beloved music teacher at Saranac Lake High School, Helen Demong has assembled men's and women's voices - young with mature, trained with amateur - from the region's cross-section of talent, delighting the nearly packed audience with music performed by individuals they know. The relatively new Northern Lights Choir's second offering engenders hope for more presentations by Ms. Demong and these enthusiastic, well-matched musicians.
Alan J. Lamica