The Brandenburg Christmas

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the festive fare that the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra present each year, joined by the Brandenburg Choir, directed from the harpsichord by Paul Dyer.

This music is all the more precious because we only hear it once a year – of course it is accessible all year round – but it would be strangely out of context. This is not the music that blasts from shopping centres or in supermarkets. It is the music that was written as part of the occasion of Christmas as a religious event. Whether you believe in Christmas or not is irrelevant. It is about appreciating and understanding music in the context for which it was written.

For example – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, a much loved Advent hymn is in fact a collation of antiphons whose origins are so old, that it is not clear whether they were first sung in the 12th century or whether they go back as far as the  8th century; the carol Silent Night seems to take on a new identity when sung as Stille Nacht as written by its composer Franz Gruber; and another classic, the Coventry Carol, sung a capella, dates from a 16th century English play, performed in Coventry, that tells the tale of King Herod’s slaughter of all infant boys under the age of 2.

Joining the ensemble is saxophonist Christine Leonard who performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir in their enormously popular 2010 season of ‘Noel Noel’. Born in Coonamble, NSW, she now resides in Sydney, where she is lecturer in saxophone at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her repertoire extends from the traditional classics through to contemporary and world music genres.

“Noël! Noël! is a dash of baroque, a splash of European and Latin American rhythms, some medieval chant and much loved carols,” says Paul Dyer, of the unique mix which blends the ancient with the modern.“I want audience members who have become part of our Christmas ritual to walk out of the concerts feeling treated.”

Also in the repertoire:

Gauntlett Once in Royal David’s City
Gabrieli Jubilate Deo Anon.
Plainchant – Assumpta Est Maria In Caelum Palestrina Assumpta Est Maria In Caelum Cazzatti Passagalia and Chaconne
Anon. Falalán (Venice 1556)
Traditional Villancico catalan
Anon. Bastião (Portugal 1643)
Albinoni Adagio from Concerto in D Minor for Oboe Op. 9/2
Vivaldi Trio Sonata ‘La folia’
Traditional arr. Coelho O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Traditional arr. Coelho The Coventry Carol
Lauridsen Les Chanson des Roses – La Rose Complète & Dirait-On
Traditional arr. Coelho The Little Drummer Boy
Gruber Stille Nacht (Silent Night)
Wade arr. Willcocks O Come All Ye Faithful
Tickets: City Recital Hall $36-$101 Book on (02) 8256 2222 or
Parramatta and Newtown $16 (children under 16) – $59   }  Book on (02) 9328 7581 or
Paddington and Cremorne $22 (children under 16) – $69 }

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