Utopia Early Music Celebrates An English Country Christmas @ Cathedral Church of St. Mark (Episcopal) (Dec. 16 and 17)


Utopia Early Music presents English holiday music from Shakespeare to Dickens


SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Utopia Early Music continues its 2017-2018 season with An English Country Christmas. Celebrate the holidays with music from the farms and country manors of England. Bronwen Beecher (fiddle), Al Cofrin (cittern), and Lisa Chaufty (flute and recorder) join Emily Nelson (soprano), Antona Yost (mezzo-soprano), Christopher LeCluyse (tenor) and Ricky Parkinson (bass) to mark the season with Tudor Christmas songs, festive dances, and favorite English carols performed as they might have been from the days of Henry VIII to the times of Charles Dickens. Admission: pay as able (suggested $15 general, $12 seniors, $10 students). Performances will take place Saturday, December 16, 8:00 PM and Sunday, December 17, 5:00 PM at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark (Episcopal) 231 E 100 S, Salt Lake City. Admission is pay as able (suggested $15 general/$12 seniors/$10 students).


Our concert presents English vocal and instrumental music for the Christmas season from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The first “war on Christmas” was waged not by secular forces but by English puritans disturbed by the debauchery of the season and its Catholic origins. While the puritan government established after the English Civil War attempted to ban Christmas celebrations in 1649, most English people continued to celebrate the season as they always had. Many of the songs and dances on our program date exactly from this period, particularly those from John Playford’s The English Dancing Master, first published in 1651. Our performance also traces the backstory of favorite carols such as “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” the traditional tune of which resembles a Playford dance (titled appropriately “Chestnut”) but differs greatly from another tune for the text popular in Cornwall. Many of the editions we use are from the Victorian period, offering a nineteenth century rendition of carols that had circulated for centuries. The result is a blending of the familiar and the new, brought about by unearthing the old.


Utopia’s season continues with The Siren and the Nightingale: Music of Medieval France (February 3 &4), and Liaisons Charmantes: French and English Baroque (April 9 on the Westminster College Concert Series). More information is available atwww.utopiaearlymusic.org. Now in its ninth season and going strong, Utopia Early Music breathes life into the Salt Lake City music scene with its historically informed performances of medieval, renaissance, and baroque music. The group has been praised for its “clear aesthetic of intimacy, nuance and transparency” (15 Bytes). Ed Reichel of Reichel Recommends comments, “Utopia has found a way to make early music fun.”

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