When you hear them sing you may think of the chorus of heavenly hosts that sang to the shepherds over the plains of Judea. At times, if you close your eyes as they sing, you can be transported back to cathedrals of centuries past. Tuesday night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and photograph the first of two 2010 Christmas Festival Concerts of the Texas Boys Choir titled “O Magnum Mysterium” at Arborlawn United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.
Being an alumnus of this 65-year-old institution and with my mother working there, I would have attended at least one of the two, but I was asked to take pictures during this and the performance next week that may be used for promotional purposes in the future. I’m glad I went last night and excited for the opportunity to go next week.
The artistic director, Bryan Priddy, has done a wonderful job bringing this annual Christmas concert back to what it was when I started with the choir more than 15 years ago while honoring the tradition of boys choirs and Christmas by bringing the format back to a Lessons and Carols structure. The continuous performance with processionals, readings and audience participation during a couple of the traditional carols made for a wonderful evening and a great way to remember the real reason for this Christmas season.
When I was a young boy in the preparatory choir in Dallas, I participated in my first Christmas concert under the direction of Jack Noble White. He also followed the Lessons and Carols format and made it a grand performance with his playing of his arrangements of classic Christmas carols on the organ, grand processionals with candles and the true spirit of Christmas. Over my time there, however, I went through four directors and with each the format changed and eventually ended up being just another Christmas concert.
This concert really did set the proper attitude for the Christmas season in such a delightful and unique way. I would highly recommend attending next week’s performance in Arlington. If it is anything like last night’s experience, you will not be disappointed. Yes, there may be a couple fidgeting first graders, some Jesus-Christmas-centered entertainment and no intermission, and they may not hit every single note perfectly, although I can’t remember any major mistakes or flaws from last night, but the overall experience is wonderful and even if it may be a bit hyperbolic, if you close your eyes you may be able to imagine the angels who proclaimed the Christ child’s birth 2000 years ago or a boys choir in 15th century Europe and you may just be transported there.
This concert featured the touring choir but had performances from the preparatory and training choirs, the members of which all attend either the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts or the Texas Elementary School for the Arts, both schools in the Texas Boys Choir’s own charter school district.
Next week’s concert will be Tuesday, December 14, at 7:00 p.m. in Arlington, TX at the Trinity United Methodist Church. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for students and may be purchased on their website, texasboyschoir.org. You can also hear the choir on WRR 101.1 fm in the DFW area or in the Adolphus Hotel lobby on December 16 from noon to one as part of the Caroling at the Adolphus series.