Saint Paul’s Choir School to debut Christmas concert film

The entrance of Saint Paul’s Church during the filming of Starry Night, image by Julia Monaco Photography

CAMBRIDGE TAB CHRONICLE – In the spirit of continuing its annual holiday season tradition amid the pandemic, Saint Paul’s Choir School will present the filmed concert performance “Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square,” featuring The Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Paul’s, streaming in premiere online at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.

The performance is conducted by SPCS Director of Music and Choirmaster James Kennerley, with accompaniment by Assistant Director of Music Maks Adach, as well as Kennerley, on Saint Paul’s majestic pipe organ, filmed by Crowley Digital. Contributions to view the film and support the performance begin at $20, available at christmasinharvardsquare.com.

In this season’s anxious atmosphere of social distancing, Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square is a beacon of musical hope. The performance is inspired by the stillness of Vincent Van Gogh’s magical painting masterpiece Starry Night, depicting the wonder found in the night sky and embracing the spirit of Christmas celebration. Fifteen musical selections span perennial Christmas favorites by Johann Sebastian Bach to modern-day compositions of John Rutter, as well as original arrangements by Kennerley and Theodore Marier, SPCS founder. Sublime soundscapes and heavenly voices are heralded in works by Harold Darke and contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre, shining side-by-side with more obscure gems like the buoyant Sir Christèmas by Welshman William Mathias, Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, and a setting of the Medieval poem, Adam Lay Ybounden.

“Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square” premieres on Dec. 19 via viewing hyperlink. The performance is available to supporters on YouTube and Vimeo, where viewers can stream on the device of their choice, including Smart TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, Chromecast, AppleTV and Roku via YouTube and Vimeo apps through desktop, laptop and tablet devices or smartphones.

“Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square” program:

“Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella,” arr. by Keith Chapman

“Once in royal David’s city,” by H.J. Gauntlett and A.H. Mann, arr. by David Willcocks

“In the Bleak Midwinter,” by Harold Drake

“Adam Lay Ybounden,” by James Kennerley

“Shepherd’s Pipe Carol,” by John Rutter

“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” by Richard Willis, arr. by James Kennerley

“Silent Night”; by Franz Gruber, arr. by Theodore Marier

“Nativity Carol,” by John Rutter

“Ave Maria,” by Franz Biebl

“Lux Aurumque,” by Eric Whitacre

“I Wonder as I Wander,” by Carl Rütti

“Sir Christèmas,” by William Mathias

“Hark! The herald angels sing,” by Felix Mendelssohn, arr. by David Willcocks

“Personent Hodie,” arr. by James Kennerley

SPCS Director of Music and Choirmaster James Kennerley, image by Julia Monaco Photography

Internationally acclaimed conductor, organist, and composer, Kennerley is director of music at Saint Paul’s Church and Choir School in Harvard Square. Additionally, he is municipal organist for the city of Portland, Maine, which he combines with regular concertizing throughout the U.S. and Europe. His training is rooted in the English choir school tradition, having sung as a chorister under Graham Elliott and Barry Rose at Chelmsford Cathedral. He later served as organ scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge, and at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Most recently he served as music director at three influential Episcopal churches in the United States. He has provided further professional leadership as dean of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and as director of the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus.

Founded in 1963, Saint Paul’s Choir School provides music at daily and Sunday services at the church and has released several professional recordings, including the albums “Ave Maria” and “Christmas in Harvard Square” (by Aim Higher; recordings available at saintpaulschoirschool.us). In addition, the ensemble tours internationally and performs alongside renowned groups such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Saint Paul’s Choir School safely educates during the pandemic in full-time small classrooms of 10 students or less, observing state health mandates. Distance learning is also available. To learn more about Saint Paul’s Choir School enrollment, curriculum, programs and performances, call 617-868-8658, email admin@saintpaulschoirschool.us or visit saintpaulschoirschool.us. For more information on Saint Paul’s Harvard Square, visit stpaulparish.org.