A Time For Harmony: Distler's Die Weihnachtsgeschichte

Hugo Distler places great emphasis on the role of Mary in his 1933 setting of The Christmas Story by interweaving seven choral variations on the familiar carol "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming," with the traditional Gospel narrative. Distler follows the structure of the earlier Passion settings of Heinrich Schütz, with the Gospel story framed by opening and closing choruses and with character roles sung to chant-like melodies by soloists. For the variations themselves, Distler uses a wide variety of textures from simple 4-part harmony to a movement for double choir. The centerpiece is the Magnificat, in which Mary freely chants the canticle "My soul magnifies the Lord" to an unmetered  melody over the choir's strictly measured hymn-like chorale harmonization. 

In a sort of Biblical prequel to the Christmas story, we also present Arvo Pärt's Which was the son of..., which recounts the genealogy of Jesus through seventy generations back to Adam and Eve. Pärt uses his minimal, "tintinnabulous" style to evoke a meditative quality through the litanic text.

Friday, December 9 at 8 pm at 1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco

and Winter Gala (selections only) Saturday, December 10 at 11 am