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  • Writer's pictureJo Page

Light in Darkness, Let Us Sing

Joel Cohen, Musical Director Emeritus of the marvelous early music ensemble, Boston Camarata, writes of their Renaissance Christmas program: "In fact, the most astonishing juxtapositions of seriousness and wit, of spirituality and jest, run through this Renaissance Christmas reportoire. All the animals of the barnyard seem to make their appearance at some point of other: cocks, cuckoos, owls and wolves participate in our musical celebration......And in the Magnificant of Galliculus ("Little Rooster"!) the different modes of experiencing Christmas are made to run together: solemn Gregorian chants, learned Flemish-style polyphony, and a riotous collection of Christmas carols, animal noises, sound effects and nonsense syllables manage happily to co-exist: Finnegan's Wake in a Renaissance Chapel. At Christmas contradictions are overcome; we learn to reconcile the different aspects of our own being. Our humblest and noblest parts move together toward the Truth that lies beyond us, yet which, at moments, does come near." I've always felt that Christmas is a greater mystery than even theologians give it credit. There is some kind of Dark Night of the Soul beauty about it, a numinous to it, as if in deep December we encounter the thinnest of the thin places. And that's a quality shared among the December holidays. Just as we herald and summon the slow return of longer days, we marvel, too, that in richest darkness, the colored lights twinkle brightest.

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