Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the festive fare that the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra present each year, joined by the Brandenburg Choir, directed from the harpsichord by Paul Dyer.
This music is all the more precious because we only hear it once a year – of course it is accessible all year round – but it would be strangely out of context. This is not the music that blasts from shopping centres or in supermarkets. It is the music that was written as part of the occasion of Christmas as a religious event. Whether you believe in Christmas or not is irrelevant. It is about appreciating and understanding music in the context for which it was written.
For example – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, a much loved Advent hymn is in fact a collation of antiphons whose origins are so old, that it is not clear whether they were first sung in the 12th century or whether they go back as far as the 8th century; the carol Silent Night seems to take on a new identity when sung as Stille Nacht as written by its composer Franz Gruber; and another classic, the Coventry Carol, sung a capella, dates from a 16th century English play, performed in Coventry, that tells the tale of King Herod’s slaughter of all infant boys under the age of 2.
Joining the ensemble is saxophonist Christine Leonard who performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir in their enormously popular 2010 season of ‘Noel Noel’. Born in Coonamble, NSW, she now resides in Sydney, where she is lecturer in saxophone at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her repertoire extends from the traditional classics through to contemporary and world music genres.
“Noël! Noël! is a dash of baroque, a splash of European and Latin American rhythms, some medieval chant and much loved carols,” says Paul Dyer, of the unique mix which blends the ancient with the modern.“I want audience members who have become part of our Christmas ritual to walk out of the concerts feeling treated.”