Los Cantantes del Lago is well known for great concerts but this year’s seasonal offering, “Lakeside for the Holidays,” held at the Auditorio de la Ribera del Lago on December 9 and 10, was met with rapturous delight by the audience.
The scene was set by the exultant and demanding “Gloria,” written by Mark Hayes, to which Michael Praetorius’ “Psallite” proved a gentle and beautifully harmonized contrast.
Then Musical Director Timothy G. Ruff Welch introduced pianist Eleanor Stromberg and an excellent trio: violinist Diego Rojas, oboist Jorge Rivero and cellist Issac Ramirez, from the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra.
Five of Herman Schroeder’s clever arrangements of Christmas carols followed. The popular “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” “Away in a Manger” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were joined by the Canadian carol ‘’ ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” and the less well known “Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head.”
The c.1865 African-American spiritual compiled by John Wesley Work – updated and made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1963 civil rights protest – was presented as “Go Tell It!” in a later arrangement by Jack Schrader. More complex in construction, it was vibrant, demanding and seemed to ebb and flow throughout the auditorium. Sung as a loose form of round, it was clearly popular with the audience.
Before intermission there was an imaginative presentation of Mark Hayes’ arrangement of “Jingle Bells,” written by John Pierpoint. With consummate ease, Stromberg’s flying fingers somehow kept pace with the rapid transitions of tempo, style and rhythm the piece demands.