Christmas at Cathedral set for Dec. 12-13
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Posted December 5, 2002
A Journey to Bethlehem is the theme of this year's Christmas at Cathedral
slated for Dec. 12 and 13 in Sioux City.
"We wanted to program pieces of music that would lead the audience
through the entire Christmas experience," noted Dr. Mark Simmons,
Christmas at Cathedral, which is a benefit for the Cathedral Arts Guild, will
bring together Briar Cliff University's Cliff Singers and the Siouxland Master
Chorale. A 45-piece orchestra will provide the accompaniment.
The program begins with Arvo Part's Magnificat, performed by the Cliff
Singers. This Estonian composer, who has emerged as a great composer to American
audiences in the last decade, couples polyponic forms and harmonies with
"The setting is when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would
be the mother of God," explained Dr. Mary Day, OSF, a member of the
Cathedral Arts Guild. "This is Mary's response to the news - she is willing
to do whatever God wants of her."
The Magnificat will be presented a cappella, without musical accompaniment.
This will be performed in the gallery, the choir loft. She noted that the sound
would be washed over the audience. The other selections will be performed from
"Then we will move to an orchestral piece, which is called Noel,"
explained Simmons, who is director of choral activities at Briar Cliff
University as well as the director of the Master Chorale. This selection by
George Whitefield Chadwick, a Boston Classicist, centers on the day that Christ
Next the program moves to John Rutter's Gloria that centers on people's and
the angels response to the birth. Rutter is one of England's best-known
composers of the 20th Century.
Performed by the Master Chorale, Dr. Day pointed out that this setting is
based upon Gregorian Chant and divides into three movements. The outer movements
make quite a joyful noise unto the Lord while the middle movement is more
introspective and serene.
According to Simmons, the program will feature two settings of the Gloria. He
expects that many people will be familiar with Rutter's version as it is one of
the composers most performed selections.
"It is a very rhythmic and bright piece of music," he said.
The two choirs, Cliff Singers and Master Chorale, will come together for the
"We will conclude the performance with one of the great pieces of music
for the 20th Century - Francis Poulenc's Gloria," said Simmons. "Some
listeners may not be as familiar with this work. I'm not sure if it has even
been performed in Sioux City."
He described it as a very challenging and rewarding piece of music.
"Poulenc tries to bring the jovial and joyous out in his music,"
noted the conductor. "You can hear the humor and boundless enthusiasm. It
requires a lot of well-developed voices."
Accompaniment by the orchestra, made up of musicians mainly from Sioux City
and Sioux Falls, enriches the musical experience to an even greater level.
"It adds so much color and a sense of roundness and strength behind the
performance," said Simmons.
Tickets, available for a $15 donation, may be purchased at Briar Cliff
University, (712) 279-5321; Cathedral of the Epiphany, (712) 255-1637 or Central
Catholic Offices, (712) 255-7933. If the performances have not been sold out,
tickets will be available at the door. Doors open at 7:15 p.m.
Proceeds from this event will help the Cathedral Arts Guild sponsor other
performances. In March, the guild will host a performance by the New England
Spiritual Ensemble that will present African American spirituals.