The chamber chorus called Sacred and Profane will recreate a radio broadcast the BBC presented on Christmas Eve, 1944 called ‘A Poet’s Christmas’ that blended choral music by composers like Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett with the poetry of W.H. Auden, Edith Sitwell, and many others. Director Rebecca Petra Naomi Seeman will lead them in concerts in Alameda this Sunday, and in Berkeley on the 10th and San Francisco on the 11th.
There’s more information about the concerts at the Sacred and Profane website.
Benjamin Britten is a mainstay of the group’s repertoire, and Seeman has programmed a few of his seasonal settings of texts by Auden in years past. “And I became curious about their origins. They would refer to that they were composed for a performance or a production that the BBC radio put on on Christmas Eve in 1944 called ‘A Poet’s Christmas,’and that’s all I knew.” She started to do some research, but couldn’t find out many details. “So I contacted the BBC, and they were very enthusiastic and excited about it, and it turned into a whole sleuthing fest, piecing together from a number of different sources what the program was… They had numerous poets that were the big deals of the day, and numerous actors that were the big deals of the day, and a few really prominent composers, Britten, Tippett, Bennett. And they pieced together this really wonderful production that they aired at 10:30 pm on Christmas Eve.” For these performances, some of the poems from the original broadcast will be read by Esther Mulligan. The second half of the program will have the American premiere of a work by Karin Rehnkvist, and a world premiere commission by James Tecuatl-Lee.