Sunday afternoon Laura and I attended the Service of Lessons and Carols at Furman. For the past 15 years, the Furman Chamber Choir has been presenting the program in Daniel Chapel. Tickets are incredibly hard to obtain, and we were lucky enough to get a couple of the 5:00 service.
As a choir director I’ve always loved the format of the Lessons and Carols service. The service covers the entire story story of the Gospel, from Fall to Redemption. From an organizational standpoint it’s great – it’s an excellent opportunity for the congregation to participate in the readings, and it’s flexible enough to allow for new pieces as well as traditional favorites.
Sunday’s performance by the Chamber Choir was flawless, as far as I can tell. My friend and fellow singer Dr. Albert Blackwell described the sound as “sidereal,” which I thought an odd choice of terms at the time. However, the heavenly, star-like quality to the music makes the term appropriate.
Dr. Bill Thomas is director of the Chamber Choir, and he likes the pure British choral sound. There is very little vibrato, and the phrasing and shape of each notes is precise and lovely. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bill with the Heritage Chamber Singers, and he used that same approach when working with us. I like doing the large pieces with the Greenville Chorale, such as the various requiems, etc, However, the refine precision of a small chamber ensemble is something I miss. Even the Chorale’s Chamber Ensemble hasn’t been able to capture this sound. The Furman Chamber Choir, though, had it spot on, and sounded…well, sidereal. It was quite a pleasant experience.