Celebrations of the Season: Stories of Our Immigrant Heritage
Ragazzi Boys Chorus
Joyce Keil, Director of Concert Group and Choral Scholars
Travis Rogers, Director of Young Men’s Ensemble
Kent Jue, Director of Avanti
The Ragazzi Boys Chorus’s December concert explores the musical influences of immigrants, who introduced a variety of rhythms, modes, and texts to music-making in America. Ragazzi’s top treble group, Concert Group, changed-voice groups Choral Scholars and Young Men’s Ensemble, and treble group Avanti, will celebrate the beauty of the season and the musical contributions of people from around the world. Both the tender lilt of the Irish Gartan Mother’s Lullaby, and the gently rhythmic Mexican villancico Xicochi, Xicochi are meant to coax baby to sleep, while the call-and-response of African gospel piece Hlohonolofatsa and the Kituba dialect carol Noel will enliven the performance with added percussion. The Gloucestershire Wassail and Noel Nouvelet bring the seasonal traditions of England and France. The Avanti treble group will ring in the holidays with Ding Dong, Merrily on High, and O Christmas Tree, accompanied with brass, and the bright Hanukkah tune S’vivon. From Chinese composer Xixan Qu, Pastoral paints a beautiful homeland scene in its lyrics, as Ola Gjello’s haunting Northern Lights uses text from the Song of Solomon to describe the “terrible, powerful beauty” seen from the attic window in his native Norway. The double-choir arrangement of O Magnum Mysterium by Gabrieli will feature a brass choir, filling the space with the mystery of the Holy Child, born among the animals. The concert will conclude with an invitation to the audience to join in singing seasonal carols.
Founded in 1987, Ragazzi Boys Chorus provides outstanding musical education and performance opportunities for boys and young men, ages 5 to 18. This season, 250 singers in six tiered levels — from over 100 schools and over 30 coast-side and valley communities — participate in this internationally recognized program. Under the leadership of artistic director and co–founder, Joyce Keil, Ragazzi Boys Chorus performs a wide range of traditional and contemporary works for both the treble and changed voice. The chorus concertizes regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Ragazzi participated in the San Francisco Symphony’s recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone, which was included in the Symphony’s GRAMMY award for best classical album. The chorus also produces its own discography. Ragazzi made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2014 and tours throughout the world to widen chorus members’ musical and cultural horizons, and deepen Ragazzi’s reputation for performance excellence.