Lessons and Carols Stir Chapel
The College community received a special holiday
season treat on Sunday, December 11 as acclaimed soprano Christine
Brewer participated in this year’s annual Service of Lessons
and Carols for Christmas in the Trinity Chapel. Brewer, who has
appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras, performed in
two shows along with the Chapel Singers, the Concert Choir, and the
Trinity College Guild of Carrillonneurs and Change Ringers. The
singers were accompanied by Professor of Music Gerald Moshell and
College Organist and Director of Chapel Music John Rose. The
carillonneurs and change ringers are under the direction of College
Carillonneur Daniel K. Kehoe ’78. One highlight of each performance
was President Jones accompanying Brewer on the organ as she sang
O Holy Night.
“The Service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas, a longstanding
tradition at Trinity College, serves many purposes,” explains
College Chaplain Dan Heischman. “It gives students—those who are a
part of the service and those who attend—an opportunity to pause and
celebrate the spirit and message of Christmas before launching into
exams and heading for home.”
Brewer’s appearances are marked with her own unique timbre,
considered at once warm and brilliant. Her repertoire includes the
works of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, Strauss, Mahler, Janáček,
and Britten and she regularly performs with orchestras such as the
New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony
Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, the
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Academy of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields. On the opera stage, she has been seen in a
variety of roles, including the title role in
Ariadne auf Naxos
at the Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Lyon, Théâtre du Châtelet in
Paris, Santa Fe Opera, and the English National Opera. Ms. Brewer
joined Plácido Domingo in a concert to celebrate the re-opening of
Covent Garden and she has performed another signature role, Donna
Anna in Don Giovanni,
to wide critical acclaim.
“For many in the
Greater Hartford community, the event serves as one of the ways in
which they begin their observance of the Christmas season,” notes
Heischman. “This year, for the music lover, it was an exceptional
treat, given how fortunate we were to have Christine Brewer with us.
Her talent, warmth, and accessibility brought great depth and good
cheer to our festivities.”
first service of this kind in modern times was held in Truro,
England in 1880. It was arranged from ancient sources by Edward
White Benson, bishop of Truro and later Archbishop of Canterbury.
Before 1878 it had been the practice of the cathedral choir to sing
carols from house to house in the city; in 1878 the custom of
singing carols in the church on Christmas Eve at 10 o’clock was
begun. In 1880 a pamphlet was issued giving the order of service and
the inauguration of the Festival of the Nine Lessons and Carols.
rite was revived by Dr. E. Milner-White, who was appointed Dean of
King’s College, Cambridge, in 1918. At King’s, the service continues
to have immense popularity both in Britain and wherever it is
broadcast or its recordings heard.
The Service of Lessons and Carols was
begun at Trinity College in 1958. Essentially, it follows the
Cambridge tradition. Readers are chosen from various groups within
the wider College community and the musical portions of the service
are led by the Chapel Singers and the Concert Choir.
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