“His battering shot are babish cries, His arrows looks of weeping eyes, His martial ensigns Cold and Need and feeble Flesh his warrior’s steed.”
Those lyrics, describing Christ’s battle with Satan, are part of composer Benjamin Britten’s choral piece, “A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28.” The LUMINA treble ensemble, a women’s choir group, will perform the cantata on Sunday, Nov. 20, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m., in the Carnegie Room at the Hege Library.
The performance will be part of a larger concert titled, “A Festival of Carols and Strings.” It will feature the Guilford College Guitar Ensemble as well as the Guilford College String Ensemble.
“In the fall semester, the music department usually has a chamber-like concert which will be a smaller, more intimate concert than the annual winter concert we have in Dana Auditorium,” said Wendy Looker, associate professor of music and director of choral activities. “Dana seats 1000 people and the Carnegie Room seats 150, so it’s a different atmosphere.”
The concert is holiday-themed but will also include classical and folk pieces. For example, the Guitar Ensemble will play compositions by Issac Albeniz, Federico Moreno Torroba and Dennis Goueon. The String Ensemble will play arrangements by Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach.
“(A Festival of Carols and Strings) will feature three ensembles,” said Looker. “There’s a theme of strings because we have a string ensemble.
“Rebecca Willie is a faculty violin teacher and she directs that group. Kami Rowan directs classical guitar ensemble. Our harpist is Carol Rauch … class of ’92. She is starting with some holiday harp music and then she’s going to play the Ceremony of Carols.”
The LUMINA show is sung by female students, faculty and alumnae. The group is currently in its second semester, after a successful trial run in the spring.
Although LUMINA itself is new, some of its members have been singing their whole lives. In fact, some of the more experienced songstresses had even performed “A Ceremony of Carols” when they were Guilford students under a different choral instructor.
“Wendy Looker invited some of the staff who are treble voices to sing with the regular class, LUMINA, for this particular performance,” said Kathryn Hood, assistant to the vice president for advancement. “As it happens, Deborah Shah and I sang the same piece in the 70’s when we were students here. I remember how beautiful it is. The accompaniment is with a harp.”
According to Looker, Britten based parts of A Ceremony of Carols off of a poetry book he purchased on a trip during World War 2. As a result, the 25-minute piece is sung in Old English, Middle English and Latin.
“A lot of the music sounds like lullabies,” said senior and President of Choir Council Eliana Weiner. “They definitely change tone. It’s based off medieval poems that are all about Christmas, birth of Christ and the saving of the world. Some of them are about Mother Marry. There are some joyous pieces and an intense piece called ‘this little babe,’ which is about Jesus as a warrior.”
Future concerts also include G. F. Handel’s “Messiah,” performed by the full Guilford Choir, Festival Singers, the Orchestra and guest soloists on Dec. 4 in Dana Auditorium.