Hearing the 140 singers of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra fill the air with glorious Christmas music was in itself quite an experience. But the fact that the two groups once again performed in the magnificent venue that is the Scottish Rite Cathedral, as they have previously, made the ISC’s “Festival of Carols” a truly memorable performing arts event.
The ISC was conducted by amiable artistic director Eric Stark for the 25th annual concert, held Sunday, which was performed in front of a sold out crowd of 900. The featured guest was soprano Emily Albrink. Other guests were the Circle City Ringers and the Warren Central Chamber Singers, led by director Dustin Podgorski.
As always the accomplished singers of the ISC showed off their impeccable technique and artistry throughout the 110-minute concert which opened with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” It was followed by Anton Bruckner’s solemn “Ave Maria.”
The remainder of the concert reflected Starks’ usual elevated taste and flair for programming as evidenced by songs performed by the ISC that included “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” William Mathias exuberant carol, “Sir Christèmas” and “O Holy Night,” which featured a shining solo performance by soprano Albrink.
Other concert highlights included John Williams’ “Merry Christmas,” “Mister Santa & Hot Chocolate” and special surprise guest—Stark’s mother, Sherry, who narrated “’Twas The Night Before Christmas.”
Every year the ISC spotlights a local high school choir during “Festival of Carols.” This year’s choice was the Warren Central Chamber Singers of Warren Central High School, who acquitted themselves well in “Festive Christmas Celebration” and “Carol of the Bells.”
The most inspiring portion of the concert occurred near the concert’s conclusion when the combined chorus, with ISC members flanking the audience on both sides of the theatre, sang a breathtaking rendition of Glenn Rudolph’s “The Dream Isaiah Saw.”
The concert ended with the always stirring George Frideric Handel’s “Hallelujah,” which is the traditional end of “Festival of Carols.”
“Festival of Carols” will be repeated at the Palladium at the Center of the Performing Arts Dec. 18, 19 at 8 p.m. and 20 at 3 p.m. It will feature soprano Sylvia McNair. The Spotlight choir will be North Central High School’s The Counterpoints on the 18th and 19th. On Dec. 20th it will be the University High School of Indiana.