Lakewood Area Choral Society (LACS) is pleased and proud to present Canticle of Joy: A Christmas Cantata, by Joseph M. Martin, with narration by Pamela Martin, on Sunday, December 17, 3:00 PM. The concert will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 405 N. M37, Hastings and is dedicated to the memory of Ginny Kruisenga, long-time LACS member, who joyously sang alto and was an assistant conductor of the choir. A cantata is a choral composition, generally on a sacred subject, consisting of movements, which taken together present a narrative. Canticle of Joy tells the story of the promise of the coming of the Messiah, the birth of Christ, and what that means for the peoples of the world. This full-length cantata will feature numerous soloists and ensembles, as well as the full LACS choir. The Rev. Paul Kuhlman will be the narrator.
Joseph M. Martin is a prolific American composer, having written over 1200 works, including nearly 40 choral cantatas and has received many honors and awards for his contributions to choral repertoire. His choral composition “Pieta” was recently honored with an award from the John Ness Beck Foundation. Martin is also an accomplished pianist and has performed solo piano recitals and has been the featured artist with symphony orchestras in the United States and Mexico. He is Director of Sacred Publications at Shawnee Press, and oversees the company’s sacred publications. His works have been performed in cathedrals in Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Scotland and Austria. LACS is indeed proud to present his choral cantata, Canticle of Joy, which incorporates many beloved carols in new settings to produce an affirmation of hope for the season.
In his Introduction to the Libretto, Martin notes the December is a bleak time of year, “when the days are shorter and nights are colder…. It is then that Christmas comes sweeping into our lives with song and celebration…. Let the music of Christmas reawaken the promise of God’s presence and love in our lives and remind each of us that our faith is a song worth singing—a Canticle of Joy that is made all the more glorious when it is shared.”
The first movement is the Invitation, which reminds people that Christmas is a time to rejoice in commemoration of the coming of the savior. The song, “A Call to Christmas,” features soprano soloist Faith Beckon. The next movement, Preparation, reminds people of the voice crying in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord and features the entire LACS choir singing “Prepare!” Anticipation, the next movement, integrates “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” with the song “Could This Be the Day?” sung by the entire LACS choir. It describes the hopeful waiting for the Messiah.
The fourth movement, Visitation, tells the story of the appearance of the Angel Gabriel to Mary. It consists of “Interlude # 1,” with tenor Jon Cleveland, soloist, and “Songs of Promise,” sung by the Lakewood Area Acapella Choir (LAAC). This piece incorporates “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” and “Tomorrow Shall be My Dancing Day,” and features Cindy Olson, Cathie Ott, and Lisa Sternberg on the soprano descant.
The next movement, The Incarnation, begins with Interlude # 2, featuring Cathie Ott, soprano soloist, followed by “Carols of the Manger,” sung by the entire LACS choir, featuring Kristen Kennedy, soprano, and Gary Goodykoontz, bass, as soloists. The sixth movement is the Adoration, with the song “Away in the Manger, soprano Jill VanZyl and bass Greg Haskin, soloists.
The seventh movement, the Declaration, describes the adoration by the angels and features the entire choir singing the rousing “Awake, Sing Gloria!” The next movement, Revelation, features soprano Lisa Sternberg, singing Interlude # 3, followed by the moving song, “We Are His Gold” sung by the LACS choir. The eighth movement, the Proclamation, features a quartet—Jill VanZyl, Mary Kuhlman, David Parker and Paul Schloop, singing “In Every Land begin the Song,” with the LACS choir joining in. The final movement is the Consecration, sung by the entire choir. Its song “Carol of the Faithful” incorporates “O come All Ye Faithful” and literally ends on a high note.
Although Canticle of Joy is divided into many movements, the entire cantata is less than an hour long. It beautifully conveys the story of the birth of Christ. This is the first time in LACS 32 years that the choir has undertaken the rigorous effort it takes to perform an entire cantata. Artistic Director and founder of LACS, Dr. Robert C. Oster expressed his heart-felt commitment to bringing great choral music to the many people who have supported LACS since its inception in 1986, saying, “The choral society is honored to be able to present this full-length cantata as a Christmas gift to our communities.”
As is traditional for LACS, the Christmas concert will end with the solemn “Night of Silence,” by Daniel Kantor, including audience participation, singing “Silent Night.” This song features Cathie Ott on flute, Cindy Olson on organ, and LACS accompanist, Susan Morton on piano. The concert is free and open to the public. In lieu of tickets a freewill offering will be taken.