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Cantata bridges the gap between the spiritual and Santa

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

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Canoryon Lowen, one of Cornwall's most versatile choirs, has begun a series of concerts which harness the essence, emotion and eloquence of the festive season.

Featuring community carols with thrilling descants, plus music for flute and strings, the concerts kicked off at St Germans on Sunday and continue at St Neot and Tavistock on December 19 and 20.

Canoryon Lowen is a mixed choir of 30 singers, based in the village of St Neot, but with members drawn from both Devon and Cornwall.

The programme includes favourites such as John Rutter's Nativity Carol, the medieval Boar's Head Carol accompanied by a brass ensemble, and a new work by the choir's director, Nick Hart (pictured), entitled The Midwinter Cantata.

The Cantata is the second major work that Nick has written especially for the choir, following the sell-out success of last year's opera, A Daughter's Tale. The secular cantata, which is accompanied by Liskeard Chamber Ensemble, is a setting of a number of poems describing the sights, sounds and feelings associated with Christmas.

Nick, who was made a Cornish Bard by Gorsedh Kernow in September, said: "Christmas and the New Year, the Solstice, or Winterval, mean so much to so many. But the music of Christmas falls into two camps – the religious with its angels and the Magi, or the commercial with Santa and his sleigh-bells. That leaves out a whole world of the experience of the turning of the year – a time of family gathering, of partying, of reflecting on the ups and downs of the year gone by, of the hopes and fears for the year ahead, of the deep darkness giving way to the lighter, brighter days.

"There seems to be almost no seasonal music which covers these themes and the emotions they evoke, themes which are almost universal to those brought up in the Western tradition, be they of faith or not.

"I've based this secular cantata on a selection of poems from writers such as Christina Rossetti, Horace and Longfellow which express the joy of this season: its harsh frosts and warm firesides, its revels and its absences, and its call to live in the moment even while looking to the future."

Tickets for the concerts at St Neot Church and Tavistock Catholic Church, priced at £5, are available by calling 01579-320683.

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