The Humility of the Shepherds
Orlando Chamber Choir explores a grassroots perspective of the Christmas story, retelling it from the humble shepherds’ point of view. Intimate settings of Angelus ad pastores ait by Claudio Monteverdi and Raphaella Aleotti express the quiet contemplation and joyful exultation with which the herders receive the angel’s tidings. When a whole heavenly hosts echoes the good news in Aleotti’s Facta est cum angelo, the shepherds are left somewhat shaken but stirred into action. They hastily convene. Francisco Guerrero sets their excited conversation to music in Pastores loquebantur – never were more harmonic herders heard! – and Jean Mouton’s Quaeramus cum pastoribus draws us in further, enticing us to follow the humble herds(wo)men on their way to Bethlehem. We do, of course, and reach the manger to the sound of Cristobál de Morales’ sumptuous Missa Quaeramus cum pastoribus which, expanding on Mouton’s motet, captures the joy of the earthly birth as well as its sacred significance. Jacobus Gallus’ double-choir O magnum mysterium finally reveals the full scale of what the humble herders have witnessed: here lies the future!
Excitement ensues in which the choir, the shepherds, our organist and (we hope) you all join in. The audience carols retrace the herders’ journey to royal David’s city where, in the bleak midwinter, a child was born. Let’s go and see this truth of love sent from above!
Humble shepherds may be on short supply in our modern world but we can still set the sound scene for Christmas here, today. Becky McGlade’s beautifully mysterious In the bleak midwinter conveys an atmosphere of misty cold and frosty whiteness; and you can hear the snowflakes fall In the stillness of Sally Beamish’s serene musical miniature. We hope to increase the present-day relevance of our concert by donating the proceeds of our interval raffle to the New Horizon Youth Centre. The interval will be further enhanced by wine, mince pies and more exotic Christmas fare. Nowell!
Lucy Goddard is unfortunately indisposed and can't direct the concert. The humble sheep are instead herded by Will Dawes, the choir’s music director from 2013 to 2017. We are very grateful to Will for standing in at short notice and welcome him back into the fold this Christmas.