WICKED LOCAL.com – Renaissance Men (RenMen), New England’s professional male vocal chamber ensemble, stages a live professional album recording at its fifth annual “A Very RenMen Christmas” gala on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 258 Concord St., Newton Lower Falls.
The concert will feature seasonal classical selections, original compositions, and cherished carols, including Paul John Rudoi’s “Cantate Domino,” Daniel E Gawthrop’s “The Longest Night,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” arranged by composer Saunder Choi, and beloved favorites like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Merriment will abound in a festive live recording atmosphere, with light bites and refreshments to be served and an opportunity to mingle with the performing artists, along with a dessert reception featuring Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and RenMen’s signature homemade eggnog – all the holiday trimmings for a memorable celebration at the most wonderful time of year!
Jeffrey Means, acclaimed recording engineer and Artistic Director of Sound Icon, Boston’s Contemporary Sinfonietta, will capture the performance in preparation for the RenMen’s second full-length album, “A Very RenMen Christmas LIVE,” due out on Navona Records/PARMA Recordings label next fall (parmarecordings.com).
Here’s some additional information about the RenMen, offered by Eric Christopher Perry, RenMen’s founding artistic director/tenor.
What is Renaissance Men’s vision when they select holiday music programming?
Our ensemble (casually known as “RenMen”) researches music to evolve into an ‘audio Christmas card’, signed with our signature sound – spicy, sweet, and savory. We research cherished Christmas carols and popular seasonal songs in arrangements for tenor, bass and baritone voices that most compliment our broad musical interests and can best be presented in the way only RenMen can – with a tremendous amount of exuberance, energy and joy.
‘A Very RenMen Christmas’
WHEN: Dec. 11, 7 p.m.
WHERE: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 258 Concord St., Newton Lower Falls
TICKETS: $40 adults, $30 seniors, $20 students and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets are also available at the door.
TO ORDER: renmenmusic.com or @renmenmusic on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram
MORE INFO: Free parking is available on site on Concord Street and adjacent streets, the building is ADA accessible.
Does the ensemble have a favorite holiday song that they most prefer to perform?
Each of us individually has a favorite, but more telling is how we each feel strong about the program’s flow in its entirety. We relish in throughline – a connecting theme, plot or characteristic – in the peaks and valleys of this program that truly capture the RenMen magic. That said, Saunder Choi’s electrifying arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard On High” gives each of a chance to really shine in our individual ways, and is incredibly fun to sing. Daniel E. Gawthrop’s “The Longest Night,” a piece commissioned for our ensemble, tells the tale of the winter solstice and the challenges of the season, a deeply moving piece for the audience. Anthony Burkes Garza’s delight through a barbershop arrangement of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is unforgettable!
How does the ensemble capture the nostalgia and sentiment of the Christmas season in its concerts?
With lush arrangements of the songs “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “White Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” it’s impossible not to feel nostalgic listening to these rich harmonies made famous by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and others of that generation. During tours of this program over several years, we’ve found that our bond as performers and the love and togetherness that evolves in these performances draws us all closer together like a warm cup of hot chocolate – both on and off stage. It’s quite indescribable.
How does the ensemble select the number of voices to fill out each section in tenor, baritone and bass parts? Is it a difficult process to create a good blend?
Because so many of us have been singing together for so long, both in RenMen and with other projects in Boston and across the country, we naturally trust in each other and our profound understanding of how to vocally and musically support one another. That understanding makes our sound unique – we sing with our full individual voices while we also listen and feel each other singing with the music as our guide. We make the most of every dynamic, every phrase, every word. It’s easy to sing with this group when there’s that much trust and care in the room.
Your Christmas performance will be professionally recorded live in part to be published as a new album due out next year. Which songs will be featured on that album?
Jeffrey Means of Boston’s contemporary music ensemble Sound Icon will produce the album and it will be released on Navona Records in October of 2020. This record will feature all of the holiday favorites you’ve come to love from our previous concerts, including Paul John Rudoi’s “Cantate Domino,” Daniel E Gawthrop’s “The Longest Night,” Saunder Choi’s virtuosic arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard On High,” Hugh Martin’s arrangement of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” plus barbershop arrangements of seasonal favorites like “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Unfortunately, you will not hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” unless someone really, really wanted it (Perry said, with a smile and a wink).
Tickets for “A Very RenMen Christmas” are $40 adults, $30 seniors, $20 students and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets are also available at the door. Free parking is available on site on Concord Street and adjacent streets, the building is ADA accessible. To purchase advance tickets online or for more information, visit renmenmusic.com or follow @renmenmusic on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.