Songs of Christmas Night

Louisville Chamber Choir
Kent Hatteberg, Artistic Director

Review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents copyright © 2015 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.

As I sat in the sanctuary of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church I could not help but feel excited for the Louisville Chamber Choir concert that was to come. Under the direction of the venerable Kent Hatteberg and featuring a very talented assemblage of singers from in and around Louisville, I could only imagine how beautiful the performance would be. I was certainly not disappointed.

From the opening Weihnachten (Mendelssohn) to Warrell’s A Merry Christmas, vocal detail and talent shown throughout the evening, enhancing the music to the delight of all.

Rachmaninoff’s Blagoslovi, dushé moyá, Ghóspoda (All-Night Vigil) was performed with special attention to the Alto and Tenor lines that offered great depth and feel to the piece. Of course, not to be outdone, the basses’ moving lines in O Magnum Mysterium (de Victoria) were deft and flowing.

Ešenvalds’ Magnificat had a little bit of trouble when notes were close to one another, leaning toward going flat, but with this sharp and talented group of musicians those problems were quickly corrected. Maggie Schwenker’s solo was lovely, if a little shaky.

While I felt that Willcocks’ Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day was a little heavy on the baritone, Sirett’s Thou Shalt Know Him was beautifully blended, as was Rutter’s What Sweeter Music, featuring organist Austin Echols.

The first half of the evening ended with an arrangement of Gruber’s Silent Night by a University of Louisville Graduate student by the name of Matt Wetmore. Remember this person’s name. This was my second hearing of this arrangement and I was just as mesmerized this evening as I was the first time I heard it. While the whole of the piece leans toward an Antiphonal sound, the musicianship required and exhibited here is extraordinary. A collapse in any section would make the whole of the piece crumble. It was an outstanding performance. I wish good things for Mr. Wetmore.

Andrew Carter’s arrangement of a traditional Spanish Carol put smiles and the look of fun on the choristers’ faces, as well as the audience. Soloists Emily Yocum Black and Haley DeWitt were delightful. Keeping with the Spanish theme, Ariel Ramirez’s La Peregrinación had a catchy Mariachi feel and one couldn’t help but move to the beat.

I think that Jim Rittenhouse was suffering a little bit from the crud that seemed to be going around that weekend, but his solo in Rutter’s I Wonder As I Wonder, was still very nice, while the only thing missing from the Wassail Song was a nice stein of ale in each chorister’s (and audience member’s) hand.

If you weren’t in the Christmas spirit yet, Martin and Blane’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was absolutely on point. There were all kinds of choral surprises throughout and soloists Fowler Black and Justin Romney were dazzling.

At the end of the night one could not help but to walk out smiling from ear to ear and filled with beautiful music, Christmas spirit and cheer.

Bravo Tutti

Songs of Christmas Night

December 19, 2015

Louisville Chamber Choir
St. Paul United Methodist Church
2000 Douglas Boulevard
Louisville, KY 40205


AnnetteAnnette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville, and is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.