Celebrate the season with Seventeen Voyces!

Image: Thomas Nast

By Clare Jackson

Seventeen Voyces will bring some Christmas cheer to Ottawa this December with two performances of an eclectic concert featuring both sacred and secular choral music. We hope you will join us!

The performances on December 16 and 17 will feature Ottawa-based harpist Lucile Hildesheim. Hildesheim has been a frequent collaborator with Seventeen Voyces, performing in previous Christmas concerts and in a musical presentation of the 1924 silent film Peter Pan. She has recorded extensively for the CBC and has produced three solo harp albums.

Hildesheim will join Seventeen Voyces this year to perform Benjamin Britten’s exquisite work A Ceremony of Carols. Written for three-part women’s chorus and harp, this engaging piece was composed by Britten in 1942 while he crossed the Atlantic by ship. It features 12 short movements that celebrate different themes and perspectives related to the Christmas season. The lyrics are taken from poems dating from the 14th to 16th centuries that were written mainly in Middle English as well as Latin and Early Modern English.

Other featured pieces will include music from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods, including Jan Sweelinck’s Hodie Christus Natus Est (Today Christ is born) and Richard Dering’s Quem Vidistis, Pastores? (Whom did you see, Shepherds?). Rounding out the program will be jazz-inspired settings of seasonal favourites like “Let It Snow,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.” A showstopping arrangement of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” is sure to be a hit!

The concerts will take place on Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church (130 Glebe Avenue) and on Sunday, December 17 at 4 p.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Church (125 MacKay Street). Tickets are $30, $20 for students and free for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at www.seventeenvoyces.ca/concerts/ or at the door (cash, credit, and debit accepted).

Seventeen Voyces, led by founder and director Kevin Reeves, has been bringing diverse early and modern choral music to Ottawa audiences for more than a quarter century. While the choir originally started out specializing in Renaissance and Baroque music, its repertoire has expanded over the years to encompass works from all eras, as will be heard in this year’s Christmas offering. The choir delights in presenting lesser-known pieces as well as commissioning and premiering new choral works. Seventeen Voyces has been a regular performing partner with other Ottawa-based musical groups including Thirteen Strings, the Ottawa Baroque Consort and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Audiences can also mark their calendars for Seventeen Voyces’s final two concerts of the 2023-24 season. The first will take place at St. Matthew’s Church on Sunday, February 25 at 4 p.m. and will showcase the music of Monteverdi with the Ottawa Baroque Consort, led by cellist Olivier Henchiri. The final concert of the season will present music of Hungary with violinist Ralitsa Tcholakova and organist Matthew Larkin on Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church (20 Fairmont Avenue).


Clare Jackson is a singer with the Seventeen Voyces choir.


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