Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sacred Music on Beethoven’s Birthday

Having established that the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players will be celebrating the birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven with music that will have absolutely nothing to do with Beethoven, it is worth adding that this coming Sunday will also see two Christmas-related performances. This is due, in some part, to the fact that this year Beethoven’s birthday also happens to be the third Sunday in Advent; but that impacts only one of the two offerings to be presented. The other is a celebration of a Mass that incorporates the Nativity narrative. Both of these performances will take place this coming Sunday, December 16. Specifics are as follows:

4 p.m., Church of the Advent of Christ the King: The third Sunday in Advent will be celebrated with a Solemn Evensong and a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The celebrant will be the Church’s rector, Father Paul Allick. Music Director Paul Ellison will lead the resident choir, Schola Adventus, and play both the prelude and the postlude on the church organ. These will be two chorale preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach, both based on the Advent hymn “Nun komm der Heiden Heiland” (come now, saviour of the heathen). Music for the Preces and Responses will be by Thomas Tomkins. The other composers whose music will be performed during the service will be William Byrd (canticles for the Second Service), Orlando Gibbons (the anthem “This is the Record of John”), and Thomas Tallis (the hymn “O Salutaris”).

Since this is a religious service, no admission will be charged; but a collection will be taken. The Church of the Advent of Christ the King is located at 261 Fell Street, between Franklin Street and Gough Street. The entry is diagonally across the street from the SFJAZZ Center.

8 p.m., Episcopal Church of the Incarnation: San Francisco Renaissance Voices will begin its fifteenth anniversary season with a Mexican Pastorela, which presents the Nativity story from the perspective of the shepherds that were the first to see the Christ child. The music will include the Missa Queramus cum pastoribus (Mass of the quaking shepherds), composed in the early sixteenth century by Cristóbal de Morales. The program will also include the enactment of a somewhat humorous fight between good and evil. The former will be embodied as the Archangel Michael, sung by soprano Susan Gundunas, opposing the Devil, portrayed by actor Joseph Schmitz. Instrumental accompaniment will include classical guitar played by guest artist Giacomo Fiore.

Susan Gundunas and Joseph Schmitz rehearsing for this Sunday’s Pastorela (courtesy of San Francisco Renaissance Voices)

The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation is located in the Sunset at 1750 29th Avenue, about halfway between Moraga Street and Noriega Street. Ticket prices will be $30 for general admission with a $25 rate for students and seniors and a $20 charge for children aged twelve and younger. Tickets may be purchased online through a Brown Paper Tickets event page.

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