CPR Classical’s ‘Comfort And Joy’ Shares Holiday Music From Colorado Artists

· Dec. 4, 2019, 2:50 pm

Updated 12/08/22

Featuring 17 holiday favorites recorded in the CPR Performance Studio, the CD includes performances from 13 top Colorado ensembles and soloists, including vocal groups Kantorei and St. Martin's Chamber Choir, the innovative instrumental groups Sphere Ensemble and Playground Ensemble, and University of Colorado-based concert pianist Hsing-ay Hsu.

Comfort and Joy celebrates the partnership between Colorado Public Radio and the classical performing community. All of these performances were donated by the musicians in recognition of our long-standing commitment to the local performing arts community.

Here's a taste of some highlights from Comfort and Joy. Scroll down for the full tracklist.

'Angels We Have Heard on High' sung by Anima Chamber Ensemble 

Angels We Have Heard on High - Anima Chamber Ensemble

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo" is a phrase that has been sung in the Christmas Mass since the second century. In the 1700s, it became the chorus for the French carol "Les anges dans nos compagnes" ("The Angels in Our Countryside"). And in English, we most commonly sing this carol to the hymn tune Gloria, in an arrangement by the American organist and composer Edward Shippen Barnes. It’s the chorus, in a beautiful two-part melodic cascade, that has made "Angels We Have Heard on High" distinctive throughout its history.

'The Christmas Song' performed by Hsing-ay Hsu

The Christmas Song - Hsing-ay Hsu

"The Christmas Song" conjures images of a cozy fireplace on a snowy day and tiny tots with their eyes aglow. But the classic song was actually written during a summer heat wave! Singer Mel Torme said pianist Bob Wells thought they could cool off by thinking about chestnuts roasting, Jack Frost nipping, yuletide carols and folks dressed up like Eskimos. Torme grabbed those images, wrote the music and some of the lyrics, and the Christmas song was born in 40 minutes.

'The Holly and The Ivy' performed by Kantorei

The Holly and the Ivy - Kantorei

Denver-based Kantorei is basking in international accolades. Their CD of music by Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen is widely praised.  It includes several world-premiere recordings and works commissioned by Kantorei, and follows Arnesen's stint as Kantorei's composer-in-residence a few years back.  Kantorei was founded in 1997 by six singing friends under the leadership of Richard Larson, who was artistic director until 2014, when Joel Rinsema took over after 23 years with the Phoenix Chorale.

Harpist Lily Primus plays 'Greensleeves'

Greensleeves - Colorado Chamber Players

We'll be able to say "we knew her when" about Lily Primus. The 17-year-old Denver School of the Arts harpist has her sights set on a top music conservatory after graduation and a principal harp position after that. It's no wonder she's so talented -- her mom is violist Barbara Hamilton, founder of the Colorado Chamber Players. Her dad is Paul Primus, the principal second violinist with the Colorado Symphony (and a member of the Colorado Chamber Players).

Here's the full list of Colorado musicians and performances featured on the "Comfort and Joy" CD:

1. Kantorei - The Holly and the Ivy   
(Alicia Rigsby - Piano) arr. John Rutter

2. Colorado Chamber Players - Greensleeves  
(Lilly Primus, harp) arr. Marcia Dickstein​

3. Hsing-ay Hsu - The Christmas Song   
(By Robert Wells, Mel Torme) arr. Jacob Koller​

4. St. Martin’s Chamber Choir - The Coventry Carol 
arr. Martin F. Shaw

5. Playground Ensemble - O Tannenbaum 
(Megan Buness, soprano) arr. Richard von Foerster​

6. Anima Chamber Ensemble - Angels We Have Heard on High 
arr. Matthew Culloton

7. Columbine Choir - Riu, riu, chiu 
arr. Francis J. Guentner, S.J.

8. Kantorei - I Saw Three Ships 
(Alicia Rigsby, Constance Branton - Piano) arr. Mack Wilberg​

9. Sphere Ensemble - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 
(Johnny Marks) arr. Alexander Vittal

10. St. Martin’s Chamber Choir - Carol of the Bells 
(English text by Peter Wilhousky) Ukranian Carol arr. Mykola Leontovich

11. Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado - Pastorale from Concerto Grosso No. 8 “Christmas Concerto”  
(Arcangelo Corelli)

12. Anima Chamber Ensemble - The First Noel 
arr. Dan Forrest

13. L & V Piano Duo - Christmas Time is Here 
(Vince Guaraldi)

14. Young Voices of Colorado - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 
arr. Philip Kern

15. Ivy Street Ensemble - The Holly and the Ivy 
arr. Kenji Bunch

16. St. Martin’s Chamber Choir - Masters of This Hall
(English text by William Morris) arr. Alfred E. Whitehead

17. Playground Ensemble - Coventry Carol 8-Bit
arr. by David Farrell

Hear CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website, or download the Colorado Public Radio app. Listen on your radio to CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado. You can also tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."

View virtual and in-person holiday concerts in Colorado and beyond.

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