THE SALT LAKE CHILDREN'S CHOIR, Ralph B. Woodward, director, Cathedral of the Madeleine, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 & 3, 8 p.m.
Nowhere is the splendor of Christmas more apparent than in the beauty and innocence of children, and this weekend, that beauty was certainly resplendent in the sweetness and joy of the Salt Lake Children's Choir.
Under the direction of Ralph B. Woodward, the choir presented its annual Christmas concert in the Cathedral of the Madeline on Saturday, with another performance following on Sunday.
The concert began with the sound of young voices filling the Cathedral of the Madeline as if from thin air. (The choir was actually in the organ loft in the rear of the Cathedral.) As choir members came down and took their places in the front, it seemed somehow appropriate that the children in their white choir robes were standing below the paintings of angels. Their high tessatura and sweet, honest approach to the music rendered them positively cherubic.
The Cathedral of the Madeleine proved to be a perfect venue for the choir, adding resonance and body to their young, thin voices.
Prior to the concert, Woodward had indicated that he would be using organ and harp instead of piano to accompany the choir. Using harp as the primary accompanying instrument (played by Tahlia Anderson) was a good musical choice, since it didn't overpower the voices and it maintained clarity in the extremely acoustically live hall. Also, the harp's soft and unobtrusive timbre blended well with the young voices. David Chamberlin provided the organ accompaniment for songs at the beginning and end of the program.
Most of the program consisted of specially selected choral music, although traditional favorites, such as "Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming," "Angels o'er the Fields" (also known as "Angels We Have Heard on High") and "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" were also included. The choir also tackled some carols from other countries, sung in the original languages of Czech, Polish, Spanish and French.
Woodward's "A Holy Little Boy" added some fun and rhythmic color to the program.
The larger Salt Lake Children's Choir divided into two smaller choirs that sung throughout the evening; one consisting of the older children and the other of the younger children. The older children managed some fairly challenging numbers, such as Woodward's "Gloria" and Tamblyn's "Jesu dulcis memoria." But the younger choir's sweet, touching sound really added an extra dimension to the evening.
The program ended with the choir and audience singing "The First Noel," "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Silent Night," and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." As the choir sang a descant above the audience's choruses, the angelic sound of their young voices really brought alive the wide-eyed wonder of Christmas.