Beliefnet Christmas Choir Contest

 

Since the first angelic choir that sang to the shepherds on the very first Christmas night, choirs and chorales have been a part of Christmas. Christmas here at Beliefnet has been made more joyful this year by the time we've spent listening to the beautiful music submitted to our second Christmas Choir Contest.



In response to our call in November, we received submissions from all over North America, with styles ranging from classical to gospel to jazz. We are thrilled to present to you our showcase of Christmas music sung by some of the country's finest choirs.




Kansas City Chorale
Charles Bruffy, Conductor

Listen: Silent night
Arr. Mark Johnson
Buy it

The Kansas City Chorale wins Best Performance for its fantastic CD "Nativitas: American Christmas Carols." The choral experts on our panel were awed by the expressive, skillful singing of this 24-voice professional choir and by the interesting contemporary settings on this recording.

St. Columba's Catholic Church Choir
Rawn Harbor, Director

Listen: Gloria
By R. Harbor
More information

For vitality, it's hard to beat this performance of Rawn Harbor's gospel mass sung by his choir at St. Columba's Catholic Church in Oakland, Calif. Our usually placid reviewers let out an audible "Amen!" at the end of this "Gloria."
Choral Arts of Chattanooga
Phillip Rice, Musical Director

Listen: We three kings
By Dave Brubeck
Buy it

For something different, we enjoyed Dave Brubeck's jazz setting of "We Three Kings" performed by Choral Arts of Chattanooga on its CD "A Christmas Portrait." Excellent ensemble singing from this 48-voice choir.
The Miserable Offenders
Ana Hernandez and Deborah Griffin Bly

Listen: O little town of Bethlehem
Arr. Bly/Hernandez
Listen: I'm gonna tell my Jesus howdy
Arr. Bly/Hernandez
Buy it

Even though they aren't technically a "choir," we just had to mention one of our favorite vocal ensembles, The Miserable Offenders. Ana Hernandez and Deborah Griffin Bly are well known in the New York area for revisioning Christian sacred music with the addition of Tibetan singing bowls, tongue drums, and other exotic sounds. Their CD "Keepin' the Baby Awake" is unlike anything you'll hear this season. All of their selections gave us a smile, and we think they will do the same for you.
Chicago a cappella
Jonathan Miller, Artistic Director

Listen: Kyrie, from the Missa "O Magnum Mysterium," Palestrina
Buy it

The crisp sound of Chicago a cappella brings the composer Palestrina to life in this performance of the Missa "O Magnum Mysterium." The nine-voice professional ensemble is hard to beat for clarity of tone and transparent purity of singing.
The Princeton Singers
Steven Sametz, Artistic Director

Listen: The Holly and the Ivy
Arr. H. Walford Davies
Listen: O come, all ye faithful
Arr. John Bertalot
Buy it

The Princeton Singers recorded "Welcome, Yule" under their founder, John Bertalot, before his retirement. This CD, packed with traditional English carols, is enhanced by the group's trademark choral sound, described by Choir & Organ as a "seamless... faultless... sheen of perfection." We're looking forward to their new Christmas CD under Sametz' direction.
The Albuquerque Boychoir
Michael Mauldin, Musical Director

Listen: Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
Arr. J. Rutter
Buy it

The Albuquerque Boychoir live recording shows off its considerable expertise in a performance of "Tomorrow Shall Be..." from the CD of the same name, celebrating its illustrious history under conductor Michael Mauldin.
Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral
Bruce Neswick, Conductor

Listen: People, look east
Arr. Paul Trepte
Buy it

This fine choir of girls has been breaking new ground with conductor Bruce Neswick since its founding, and continues to do so with its CD showcasing the Episcopal Church's new multicultural hymnal.
The Fordham University Choir
Robert Minotti, Director

Listen: O Magnum Mysterium
By Morton Lauridsen
More on the choir

The Fordham University Choir brings a sweet, youthful sound to traditional carols. Its CD "Make a Joyful Noise," performed by a combination of three smaller choirs, contains old favorites like "Carol of the Bells" and the "Gloria" from Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass.
South Bend Chamber Singers
Nancy Menk, Conductor

Listen: Gaudete
By J. David Moore
Buy it

The South Bend Chamber Singers have recorded an appealing CD of 20th-century Christmas music entitled "Christmas at Loretto," which shows off their full, warm sound.
Toronto Camerata
Arthur Wenk, Director

Listen: The Virgin Mary had a baby boy
Arr. R. DeCormier
Buy it

The Toronto Camerata's CD "A Camerata Christmas" presents an interesting array of Christmas music from France, Germany, the Americas, and Czechoslovakia, among others. Director Arthur Wenk inspires an enthusiastic performance from this 20-voice community chorus.
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