Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra to present cantata

The Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra, Dr. Chris Jackson, Director, will perform Benjamin Britten’s cantata, “Saint Nicolas,” at 4 p.m. Dec. 3, at St. Marks Lutheran Church, 142 N. Market St.

They will be joined by the Williamsport Youth Choir, Emily Wertz, Director, to conclude the program with seasonal favorites. This will be the first concert for Dr. Christopher Jackson, the newly appointed director of the Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra.

Britten’s cantata Saint Nicolas, written in 1948, offers insight into the dramatic life of a saint whose legends and glory have accumulated over the centuries. The story of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of children, seamen, and travelers, is told through nine scenes depicting his life, faith, miracles and enduring legacy. His most famous, and certainly most gruesome, myth is that of the pickled boys.

In this legend, three boys were chopped up by a local shopkeeper and put into a barrel of brine. When St. Nicolas learned of this horror, he prayed to God to return them to life and they were saved. This story is the one that ultimately brought Western culture its figure of Santa Claus.

The part of Nicolas is sung by the tenor soloist, Stephen Carroll. An avid interpreter of contemporary music, Carroll has appeared as a soloist with orchestras across the country including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Rochester Chamber Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic.

The choir and supporting instrumentalists (strings, piano duet, organ and percussion) serve as eye-witnesses as St. Nicholas’s story is told from his birth, through his life’s journey and finally his death. The accompaniment is filled with striking contrasts in instrumentation, vocal style, and musical textures.

Dr. Christopher Jackson is in his fourth year as the Director of Choral Activities at Lycoming College where he conducts the Lycoming College Choir, Lycoming Tour Choir, and teaches music history, conducting, and voice. At Lycoming College he co-founded the Lycoming Baroque Choir and Orchestra.

The ensemble is honored to have been selected as a guest performer for the PaACDA 2016 Fall Conference.

The Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra’s mission is to provide superb cultural entertainment for the people of the Williamsport area by enlisting the talents of outstanding singers and instrumentalists to perform great choral literature.

Tickets are available at the Robert M. Sides Family Music Center, 201 Mulberry St., from performers, or at the door.

For more information, visit the Williamsport Chamber Choir and Orchestra on Facebook.