Beyond the significance of the season, there’s another special reason to attend the San Joaquin Chorale’s “Gloria in Excelsis” concert. It will be the last time for Roy Klassen, who founded the auditioned choral ensemble in 1994, to conduct a holiday concert as music director. (Klassen, who is retiring at the end of the season, will conduct his final concerts May 6 and 7.)
The 70-member group performs Saturday, Dec. 6, in Reedley, and Sunday, Dec. 7, in Fresno. Kevin Memley is accompanist.
The program is ambitious. Klassen says the most difficult “and wonderful” piece is Matthew D. Nielsen’s “Midnight Clear.”
The composer has said of the piece: “I am always moved by the words of ‘It Came upon the Midnight Clear.’’ Into my mind come images and sounds of bells, wings, wind, and harps on a backdrop of the moon, and a sky full of stars ... My intention was not to imitate the actual sounds of each image, but the feeling and its relation to that Christmas night.”
Another notable piece is Doug Brandt’s “The White Owl.” The composer’s favorite part of the Christmas story is the animals. He was inspired to write the piece after the death of his brother. “He told us that he had once been in a barn on his family’s property and saw two white owls looking down at him,” Brandt says of the piece.
The concert also will include three compositions and arrangements by John Rutter, a favorite both of the chorale’s singers and audience members, Klassen says.
San Joaquin Chorale
- 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, First Mennonite Church, 1208 L St., Reedley. Free
- 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, University Presbyterian Church, 1776 E. Roberts Ave., Fresno. $10, $5 students and seniors.
- Details: www.sanjoaquinchorale.com