Candlelight Carol Service 2016 – Our 42nd
December 18, 6 p.m.
BROADWAY ACTOR ARBENDER ROBINSON
TO READ “A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS” AT CANDLELIGHT CAROL SERVICE
The nondenominational Chelsea Community Church’s 42nd Annual Candlelight Carol Service, comprising Scripture lessons, a choir and congregational singing, will take place on Sunday, December 18, at 6 p.m. at its host church, the historic St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 West 20th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). The event is free; an offering will be accepted.
The choir, under the direction of Larry J. Long (see below), will present choral music from the ancient plainsong chant “Hodie Christus natus est” (Today, Christ is born) to John Rutter’s contemporary “Shepherd’s Pipe Carol” (UK). Other music includes Stephen Paulus’ “Halelu” (US), the early 17th century British composer Thomas Weelkes’ “Magnificat,” “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” by Michael Praetorius (Germany), the opening movement of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria in excelsis” (Italy) plus Jacques Berthier’s Taizé chant “Gloria in excelsis” (France). The choir will be accompanied by internationally recognized organist Christopher Houlihan (see below), along with harp and flute/piccolo.
Veteran Broadway singer/actor Arbender Robinson (right) will read Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” St. Peter’s Church stands on land that was part of Moore’s estate. Mr. Robinson has appeared on Broadway in Hairspray, Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Lion King, Hair, Ragtime, The Book of Mormon, Beautiful, and Shuffle Along. He is also a teaching artist working with many organizations across the country, and is a huge advocate for autism awareness and research.
2015 Candlelight Carol Service
Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. will read “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and
music will range from the 15th to the 21st centuries
Our 41st Annual Candlelight Carol Service, with Scripture lessons, a choir and congregational singing, will take place on Sunday, December 13, at 6 p.m. at host church, the historic St. Peter’s Chelsea (346 West 20th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). The event is free; an offering will be accepted.
The choir, again under the direction of Larry J. Long (bio and photo below), will present choral music ranging from the 15th century French carol “Saw you never, in the twilight” arranged by Robert J. Powell to Mr. Long’s own “Annunciation Carol,” premiered at the 2014 service. Other music includes J.S. Bach’s “Break forth, O beauteous, heavenly light”; Hans Leo Hassler’s “Dixit Maria”; early American composer William Billings’ “Methinks I see an heavenly host”; Carl Schalk’s “Before the Marvel of This Night”, and a wonderfully fun arrangement of “Ding! Dong! Merrily on high” by Swedish composer Anders Öhrwall. The choir will be accompanied for the third year by internationally recognized organist Christopher Houlihan (photo and bio below) and a string quartet.
Film, stage and TV actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. will read Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” St. Peter’s Church stands on land that was part of Moore’s estate. Mr. Whitlock has amassed a wide variety of powerful roles, from his portrayal of Senator Clay Davis on HBO’s popular series The Wire to playing a sympathetic doctor in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and his captivating portrayal of Joe in Christopher Shinn’s renowned Off-Broadway play Four, for which he was nominated for a Lucille Lortelle Award as Outstanding Featured Actor. He has had memorable guest appearances on Law and Order, along with noteworthy characters developed in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and Peter Hedges’ film Pieces of April. (Mr. Whitlock’s photo by Leslie Hassler)
2014 – 40th Annual Service!
Clement Clark Moore himself appeared out of the dark December night on December 14th when our scheduled reader of has famous “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” actor and Chelsea neighbor Anthony Newfield was mysteriously and suddenly unavailable! The choir sang beautifully, especially the commissioned commemorative “Annunciation Carol” by choir director Larry J. Long, and 450 people shared a wonderful evening of the Christmas story, choir selections and congregational carols, organist Christopher Houlihan and a string quartet, and candles, fresh greens and bows. And Fr. Stephen Harding of St. Peter’s Chelsea, the beautiful location of our service, joined us and offered a beautiful benediction commemorating the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western front in the early months of World War I, by which time many had thought the war would have been over.
We have never seen so many Christmas cookies as at this year’s service, and the cider (Norma’s special recipe) and egg nog were as welcome and plentiful as ever. (Photo, left, by Malcolm Ritter)
Watch this space for pictures as we’re able to get them up! (Of course, we’ll have to obtain a waiver from Moore, and he can be elusive.)
HIGHLIGHTS OF RECENT PAST CANDLELIGHT CAROL SERVICES
For our 2012 service, we enjoyed the benefit of two readers – a first – with Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly (photo, left) of Chelsea’s Irish Repertory Theatre.
Jeanne Ruskin, whose credits range from the original
Broadway production of Equus to The Guiding Light, to Law and Order., was our reader for the 2013 service. She is founder and managing director of the not-for-profit script development, coaching and producing organization RFTC Inc., and artistic director of Red Flute Theatre Company. Among current projects is a stage adaptation of Kate Chopin’s classic, “The Awakening.”
2013 CCS Accompanist Christopher Houlihan
Christopher’s ‘press’ has included such accolades as “gifted” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Wall Street Journal), and “one of the brightest stars in the new generation of American organists” (Cincinnati Enquirer). He made his orchestral debut with the Hartford Symphony and recorded his first two CDs while still in college. For more of his impressive professional biography and activity, see his website www.christopherhoulihan.com. He is currently artist-in-residence at St. Ignatius of Antioch (Episcopal) Church in Manhattan.
The music chosen by Choir Director Long includes selections by Handel, Praetorious, Mendelssohn, Sabine Baring-Gould, and Kenneth W. Louis, a fine mix of the familiar and the new.
Click here to visit our Candlelight Carol Service Event Page on Facebook.
Larry J. Long, Organist & Choirmaster at the Church of the Epiphany, joined us as CCS Choir Director in 2011. Each year he has chosen a broad and beautiful range of choral music for the choir, ranging from Gregorian chant/plainsong to Renaissance and Baroque to American spiritual and contemporary, and we look forward to learning his 2013 selections! We were fortunate to be accompanied by award-winning organist Stephen Tharp in 2011, and by Paul Murray in 2012.
Larry Long has served as Organist & Choirmaster at the Church of the Epiphany since February, 2009. At Epiphany, he plays the organ, conducts the adult and children’s choirs, and administers the music ministry of the parish. Active as a composer as well as an organist and conductor, he has compositions published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA Publications, St. James Music Press, and World Library Publications. He has degrees from Valparaiso University (BM) and Southern Methodist University (MM), and has also studied at the Royal School of Church Music in England and the Haarlem Summer Academy for Organists. He performs regularly in recitals, and is often the organist, choral conductor, and workshop presenter for a variety of institutions and organizations, including the Valparaiso University Institute of Liturgical Studies, American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Anglican Association of Musicians, the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA, and the Metro New York Synod of the ELCA.