This preview has been provided by Carolina Pro Musica.

Carolina Pro Musica presents our holiday tradition for the entire family – medieval and Renaissance music with readings of the season and carols for all to sing. Bob Sweeten returns to narrate. The ensemble will appear in period attire with Renaissance instruments and voices. Two performances at historic St. Mary’s Chapel. Tickets 7.50-$15.00., 704-334-3468

Carolina Pro Musica, Charlotte’s early music ensemble, will present “Christmas at St. Mary’s” December 14, 2013. Founded to perform music written before 1800 with period instruments and voices, Carolina Pro Musica did not have Christmas concerts as part of their original plan when they began a concert series 36 years ago.

After a few years we realized there was so much wonderfully interesting music surrounding the story of the birth of Jesus and we were missing an opportunity to share it with our audiences. With that in mind, Christmas at St. Mary’s became part of the regular season and has remained so. The ensemble keeps the venue of Charlotte’s historic St. Mary’s Chapel for these holiday performances as it was the home of all their concerts. The chapel was constructed in 1892 on the campus of Thompson Orphanage by William Bynum in memory of his daughter. The  chapel served the orphanage until 1970. In 1975 the chapel was declared a historic site by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission.

From the beginning Carolina Pro Musica decided to include a narrator to tell the story, keep the program flowing and show the context for the music. This year’s programs features medieval and Renaissance music and includes the “Coventry Carol” from 16th century England after the reading from the Book of Matthew which speaks of Rachel weeping for her children who had been killed in the slaughter of the innocents.

Other happier readings will feature the prophecy of the birth, the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, the angels proclaiming the birth to the shepherds, and a star leading the Wiseman to the Christ child. Also included will be 15th century English poems and T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi,” another audience favorite.

Bob Sweeten returns for the fifth time as narrator for these concerts. For 15 years, he has been Max on the syndicated Bob & Sheri morning radio show that originates from WLNK in Charlotte. In addition to his duties directing Bob & Sheri, he is active in local theater often appearing with the Abbey Players/Belmont Community Theater among others. He has won Addy awards for his work in television and radio commercials.

Music will include a selections from Europe and England. The tune ‘Greensleeves’ dates from the time of Queen Elizabeth I. In the 1860’s, the time of great interest in hymns, the words “What Child is this?” were set to this famous melody. The audience will be invited to join us on this and other familiar carols that fit the historic time period of our show.

Carolina Pro Musica’s program will feature recorders (flauto dolce), viola da gamba, harp, harpsichord, and percussion. All these instruments are quieter than today’s modern counterparts. The recorders came in families during the Renaissance so several different sizes will be used Members of the ensemble will join in singing on some selections and the audience will be a part of the singing experience. St. Mary’s Chapel provides a wonderful setting for these rare sounds.

Carolina Pro Musica was established in 1977 to promote the performance of music written before 1800 through the use of historic instruments and/or copies and in the performance practice of the periods in which the music was written.

Carolina Pro Musica
Karen Hite Jacob, founder/director, harpsichord, harp
Rebecca Miller Saunders, soprano, percussion
Holly Wright Maurer, recorder, viola da gamba
Edward Ferrell, recorders