By Josef Sekon
ON SUNDAY afternoon, at Holy Cross Catholic Church, the Santa Cruz Chorale presented an impressive Christmas concert under the guidance of conductor and artistic director Christian Grube (right.) A dozen-plus assorted works that historically covered a substantial timeframe ranged from a 16th century Exultate Deo by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina to Serenity (“O Magnum Mysterium”) by Ola Gjeilo, born in 1978. Other pieces, performed in high style, were the work of Monteverdi, Tchaikovsky, JS Bach, Telemann, Rossi, Mendelssohn, Tavener, Kverno, Poston and Praetorius.
More than 400 Chorale supporters braved the most-welcome “inclement weather” to attend the concert. Considering that number, parking was a challenge. However, the enthusiastic crowd politely filed into Holy Cross four or five abreast, packing the venue.
In addition to the 52-member Chorale was the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta strings, winds, three sackbuts and continuo. Additional orchestral support came from the Community Music School Collegium consisting of four recorders and harp.
Under the charismatic maestro Grube, who also serves as Emeritus Professor of Choral Conducting at the University of Arts in Berlin, the Santa Cruz Chorale has risen and developed far above and beyond the concept of amateur status. In 1995, Grube was awarded the National Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest civilian honor given by the German Government to an artist.
The vividly detailed choral textures came across quite well in this event. The balance between song and orchestral accompaniment was impressive and invested with the profoundness of the Holiday Season. In several works the choristers were pitted against each other antiphonally. The use of both instrumental and vocal members stationed in the choir loft boldly and imaginatively created the spatial separation and depth of surround sound that contrasted and differentiated between double choirs. The voices ranged from full to splendidly light and delicate; the instrumental support was discreet, but colorful.
The Santa Cruz Chorale has made its mark among many competitors and, judging by this concert, will continue to grow with enthusiasm and without limits.
Photo by Katzprints Photography