Our Lady of Ostrabrama’s resplendent interior, rich with color and beauty, will again be the setting of the Corchaug Singers’ Christmas concert.
The singers’ fourth annual holiday offering, under the direction of William Roslak, will be presented on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. Two violinists from the Red Door Chamber players and Juliette Rand, a local high school organist will also perform.
Roslak says the whole idea of the performance is inspired by the Nine Lessons and Carols service at Kings College in Cambridge, England, but with a slight twist.
“We take a slightly more secular approach to it. We intersperse readings of poetry that help complement the themes that are being presented,” he said.
Those themes, he said, are what Christmas is really all about — peace, goodwill, family and faith, as opposed to the commercialization that surrounds the Christmas season. Bringing a sense of serenity and tranquility to the audience is an important part of the performance, Roslak explained.
There are 14 members of the chorus this year and each has sung professionally or semi-professionally. The group rehearses for about three hours a night for just two nights before the concert, so it’s a lot of material for the singers to learn in a short time. Roslak says to make it a more enjoyable, less stressful event for the performers, too, he has arranged for a few more solo works along with some readings between the musical pieces.
In addition, he was delighted to be able to get to know Rand and offer her a place to perform. “Being a young musician, it’s often hard to find venues to present your talent,” he said. “Lots of people think organists are older, but I’m really happy to have a very young player join us.”
Roslak’s voice grew sentimental as he spoke about Our Lady of Ostrabrama. “I grew up in that church and it still is one of my favorite spaces to make music. The grounds are really peaceful and there’s this huge sky around it. The way the light bounces off the walls and the stained glass — it’s just such a peaceful place to be in.” He said, “I always want to bring the listener to the most appropriate place to hear the music and this church is that place.”
Setting up the church is perhaps the hardest part of the concert, he said. After an audience member suggested a couple of years ago to have more candles and less electric lighting, Roslak says now, “I buy the whole aisle of candles at Target because people love having the atmosphere. But they don’t realize how much work it is to set them up and light them all.” He laughed as he recalled the surprise on the cashier’s face as he piled scores of candles on the checkout station.
This is the fourth year that Roslak has organized this concert. He says, “People are adamant about making this part of their holiday tradition. We have a lot of opportunities for the audience to participate and they really enjoy that.”
Roslak is adamant about keeping the contemplative peaceful atmosphere of the concert. He believes the times of quiet between the pieces are as important as the music itself.
“As Debussy said, the real music is the silence behind the notes.”
The concert is open to all. There is a suggested free-will offering of $20 per person.