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Carols by Candlelight – Ten Years of prevailing beauty

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Carols by Candlelight – Ten Years of prevailing beautyReaders Letter – “Music has been dubbed the queen of the arts and rightly so. On Friday the 14th of December I had the golden opportunity of attending for the third consecutive time the Carols by Candlelight annual Christmas concert. This year, the Schola Cantorum Jubilate which is the very soul of the concert, reached its tenth edition.

As usual the soireè was a celebration not to be missed!

Christmas comes once a year! There are many ways how people decide to celebrate it. Many people put shopping at the head of their priorities and this aspect of Christmas has become part and parcel of the celebrations.

There is no real Christmas without the giving and receiving of presents, many would argue. Others might want to go away and celebrate Christmas somewhere on the continent or in Britain where the surrounding snowy atmosphere helps to strengthen the atmosphere of Christmas.

However Christmas remains a family celebration. Ideally, one should be united with his or her own family to celebrate Christmas in the best of spirits. Since Carols by Candlelight has become a regular feature of our Christmas calendar and many people from the main island of Malta cross to Gozo for the concert.

I strongly suggest that one should not think twice before reserving a ticket or two for any of the two evenings on which the Schola Cantorum Jubilate presents to the general public what may perhaps be considered its main activity of the year.

This year’s concert featured various Christmas carols, some of them quite uncommon to us. The second item for this year was Riu Riu Chiu which is a Spanish carol. In fact it is what is known as a ‘villancico’ attributed by some sources to Mateo Flecha the Elder, who died in 1553; others describe it as anonymous. It is an ideal carol for the days leading to Christmas since it also features the theme of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, a Marian devotion that is very strong on the Iberian Peninsula which is celebrated at the beginning of Advent. I quite liked the Shepherd’s Pipe Carol by John Rutter which was impeccably executed by the Schola Cantorum.

Although I am no expert of choreography, I must also say that the background in the sanctuary of St Augustine’s Priory Church was just superb; the entrance on the scene of the Three Kings wearing their oriental garb together with the shepherd holding a real lamb on his shoulders and later on the Virgin Mary holding a crying baby and St Joseph, added to the Christmas atmosphere that was felt right through the concert.

As usual, St Augustine’s church was packed. The choir rose to the occasion.

The end – which I am certain nobody wanted to see coming so quickly – could only come to be through a beautiful rendering of the glorious Hallelujah from G. F. Handel’s oratorio The Messiah which can easily be described as the most popular musical composition ever written with Christmas as its inspirational theme.

I also got the impression that this year’s accompanying publication had a more attractive look to it. As one can read in the inner pages, there is so much work and so many people involved in this concert but I believe the main words of appreciation should go to a brother and sister – Stefan and Marouska Attard – who were the first protagonists of the project when it was first originally launched ten years ago.

Yes truly once again, I can say without any fear of shame, beauty has once again prevailed!”

Fr. Geoffrey G. Attard.

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