Vocal Area Network logo VAN Feature

New Jersey Youth Chorus joins Clan Currie Society for "The Pipes of Christmas"
by Robert Currie for Vocal Area Network
Posted December 14, 2003

Clan Currie Society"The Pipes of Christmas," the Clan Currie Society's popular holiday concert, returns to Central New Jersey for two sold-out shows on Saturday, December 20, 2003 at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, NJ. Founded in 1992, the Clan Currie Society is a non-profit organization formed to preserve and promote Scottish history and culture. In addition to the concert, the Society also hosts an annual National Tartan Day program on Ellis Island and a Burns Night dinner dance celebrating the life of Scottish poet Robert Burns, among its many outreach programs.

According to Society president Robert Currie, "The concert, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2003, is our most ambitious production to date. To help us celebrate our anniversary, we've added a number of special guest performers that, when combined together with the beautiful setting at Central Presbyterian Church, will make this year's concert one of the premiere instrumental and choral events of the season."

The program will feature the music of Christmas accompanied by a selection of readings taken from Celtic literature and Scripture. Featured performers include Metropolitan Opera star Mark Delavan, Celtic fiddler Paul Woodiel, the R.P. Blandford & Son Pipe Band, and the Solid Brass ensemble. Also returning will be choral composer and organist Jeff Rickard from the University of Redlands in California and distinguished Scottish country dance music expert Susie Petrov from Boston.

Joining Clan Currie's regular company of outstanding performers will be Irish tenor Tom Roche of the Boheme Opera Company of Trenton, uilleann piper Christopher Layer of the Trinity Irish Dance Company of Chicago and Celtic harpist Jennifer Port, direct from Scotland. Also joining the company this year will be the 70-member Advanced Chorus of the renowned New Jersey Youth Chorus, under the direction of Trish Joyce. Founded in 1992 by Artistic Director Patricia Joyce, the New Jersey Youth Chorus has rapidly grown in both the number of members and the breadth of communities. Choristers now hail from more than 25 towns in four counties.

The Chorus performs a range of choral literature from music of the masters to international folk music and gospel. Through performance, the Chorus seeks to enhance the cultural life of its communities. Its mission is to encourage a love and appreciation of choral music, to provide its members with a unique opportunity for music development within an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship, and to achieve artistic excellence using high quality music literature and by teaching sound technical skills. The Chorus regularly performs for a variety of local civic and corporate functions and for community clubs and organizations. In 2003, the Advanced Chorus sang with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and the Mendelssohn Club Chorus of Philadelphia. The Chorus was selected to participate in the Pacific International Children's Choir Festival, as part of the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon.

The chorus will perform on its own, with tenor Tom Roche in The Wechsford Carol and with baritone Mark Delavan in Amazing Grace and O Holy Night.

Since making its debut in 1999, "The Pipes of Christmas" has played to standing-room-only audiences. Given the popularity of the program, a second concert was added in 2001 to accommodate the growing demand for tickets. That same year, Clan Currie began an award-winning partnership with TV-36, Communities On Cable, by broadcasting concert highlights on Christmas Eve. The last two productions were both recipients of the prestigious Telly Award for production excellence.

The concert has provided audiences with a stirring and reverent celebration of the Christmas season and the Celtic spirit. Audience-goers return year after year to experience the program, many reporting that the "Pipes of Christmas" has become part of their family's annual Christmas tradition. For that reason, the concert is kept fresh each year with new selections and performances. While steeped in Christmas tradition, the program also strives to remain relevant to the world around us.

The 2001 edition was dedicated to the memory of all who perished in the attacks on September 11. A new pipe selection, Lament for the Lost, was composed and performed especially for the concert. The 2002 concert was designated an official Golden Jubilee event by Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of HRH Queen Elizabeth II's Accession to the Throne. That same year, Pipe Major Blandford also premiered a pipe solo commissioned by Clan Currie in memory of the late Queen Mother who had died earlier that year. In a letter to the Clan Currie Society, U.S. Congressman Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) commented, "This organization has shown the ability to truly touch the world."

Over the last five years, "The Pipes of Christmas" has also received critical acclaim. In his review for Classical New Jersey, a magazine produced for the classical music community of New Jersey, critic Paul Somers wrote, "The whole evening was constructed to introduce gem after gem and still have a finale which raised the roof. In short, it was like a well-constructed fireworks show on the Glorious Fourth." David Palladino, music editor of The Westfield Leader, described the concert as "a unique sound of power and glory nowhere else to be found."

Although currently sold out, interested concertgoers may place their names on a standby list for cancellations by contacting the Society at (908) 273-3509. In addition, the Society will broadcast concert highlights on TV-36, Communities On Cable, a public access cable station reaching over 40,000 homes in the greater Summit area. For further details, visit the Society's website at www.clancurrie.com.

Robert Currie is the president of the Clan Currie Society. This is his first article for Vocal Area Network.

Content Contact: Robert Currie.
Revision Date: December 14, 2003.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

 Vocal Area Network logo