Christmas at PC is an annual series of concerts at PC presented during the first weekend of December. All the college’s musical efforts are focused into producing one of the area’s finest and most meaningful Christmas events. The program has frequently featured new music commissioned by the Department of Music at PC or composed specifically for Christmas at PC. During the 2014 edition, How Far Is It To Bethlehem?, two new compositions by two PC composers will be featured.
Dr. Ron Davis, professor of music and the college organist, has composed a new work for the men’s choir, Cantare!, that he also conducts. When asked, Dr. Davis responded that “the text ‘A Song Was Heard At Christmas’ was found in a volume of Christmas carol texts published many years ago. I was struck by the way the text tied together the traditional elements of the Christmas story–the angels, the wise men, the Christmas tree, and the birth of the baby–with a contemporary view of those elements and how they effect us today. The piece is written in a rather “hymn-like” form, with some music repeating for successive verses of the carol text, but with a bit of variation for each verse. The harmonic structures are reminiscent of some of the easy-listening big band music of the late 1940s.”
Dr. Porter Stokes, chair of the department of music at PC and director of the PC Choir, has also contributed a piece for the women’s choir, Bella Voce. This is the second year that a new composition by Dr. Stokes has been premiered during the Christmas at PC performances. For 2014, Dr. Stokes chose a text from the 19th-century Massachusetts poet and writer Josiah G. Holland, There’s a Song In The Air. When asked why he had chosen that particular tune, Dr. Stokes said, “It was always one of my wife’s favorite Christmas carols, but it’s rarely sung anymore because it has disappeared from many mainstream church hymnbooks. However, it’s a lovely text and I thought it was deserving of some updating. So, as I manipulated the text, a little Gaelic-style melody began to emerge. The rest of it just fell into place and the choir really seems to enjoy singing it – though some of the intervallic leaps and syncopated rhythms have given them a bit of pause.”
These selections are only part of the approximately eighty minute performance that will be offered. All performances will be in PC’s Belk Auditorium at 7:00pm on the 5th and 6th and at 3:00pm on the 7th. Tickets are available online through www.presby.edu/christmas and in the departmental offices in Belk Auditorium.