The Crossing: Not your typical Christmas music

The Crossing choir has a new album out, "Christmas Daybreak.”  Credit: Facebook
The Crossing choir has a new album out, “Christmas Daybreak.”
Credit: Facebook

With its focus on new music by contemporary composers, a performance by The Crossing is always a surprising experience. But that’s never more true than at Christmastime, when other choirs are turning their attention to the “Messiah” and to sing-a-long carol sessions.

“We do this in a really beautiful, candlelit stone church in the English cathedral tradition,” says Crossing founder and director Donald Nally. “From the moment you walk in the door, the mood encourages you to leave your troubles outside the door and switch off for a little bit, to engage only in the music that’s coming at you and the emotional content of that music. It’s a really thoughtful evening in which there’s a lot of quiet, beautiful singing. In that way, I consider it a relief from all that other music we’re constantly bombarded with every time we walk into Starbucks or a greeting card store.”

The centerpiece of this year’s “Crossing @ Christmas” concert is “Astralis,” a major piece by German composer Wolfgang Rihm, written for cello, tympani and choir. The piece’s meditations on the natural world inspired the overarching theme for the ensemble’s current season. “It’s a really ethereal, spatial, thoughtful piece that creates an amazing atmosphere,” Nally says.

The second half of the program is anchored by Bermuda-born composer Gabriel Jackson’s more jubilant “Ave regina caelorum” for choir and electric guitar. Nally describes it as “very rhythmic, with a lot of sweeping lines for the sopranos and tenors and a number of very specific moods — Gabriel even writes in the style of Eric Clapton at one point.”

The program is filled out with a number of smaller pieces, including two by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, all chosen by Nally to maintain the evening’s mood. “I choose pieces that I feel have some kind of message of either hope or anticipation or that reach across various boundaries in terms of our idea of God,” Nally says. “That can be nature or the world or the cosmos or whatever. Then I thread them together to make almost a liturgy, even though the concert is a mix of secular and sacred. It’s what I would call spiritual music that fits together to tell a story of contemplation and anticipation.”

That story is also represented on “Christmas Daybreak,” the choir’s newly released CD featuring works by Jackson, James MacMillan, and Philly composer Benjamin C.S. Boyle, among others. Not unexpectedly, Nally says, “It’s not your typical collection of Christmas music.”

Crossing @ Christmas
Dec. 20, 8 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave.
$18-$27
www.crossingchoir.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.