Santa Fe Desert Choir Kicks Off Season With ‘Nochebuena’

The Santa Fe Desert Chorale returns to performing in person with its 2021 Winter Festival: “Nochebuena”.

The 24-member group will kick off the season on Saturday, December 11 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, then head south to Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque on Sunday, December 12. Various Santa Fe performances will follow. December 22.

Joshua Haberman conducts the Desert Choir. (Courtesy of the Santa Fe Desert Choir)

The program mixes Gregorian chant with music by Hispanic composers and traditional English and American chants.

The concert opens with “Queen of Heaven”, a traditional Gregorian chant, followed by “Ave Regina Caelorum” by Tomás Luis de Victoria, Spain’s most famous composer of the 16th century. De Victoria took the vocals and put it to eight voices.

“The architectural structure is the original Gregorian chant,” said conductor and artistic director Joshua Habermann. “He kind of has them in conversation with each other.”

The music of New Spain follows with the Latin American Baroque.

“Mexico was a very important center for composition at this time,” Habermann said.

The singers will perform this late Baroque music associated with the harpsichord holidays.

Traditional Hispanic Christmas carols were transferred from Spain to New Mexico, including “O Mi Belén” and “Gabriel’s Message”.

“The Great Mystery” or “O Magnum Mysterium” arranged by Kevin Memley follows. Text has been a holiday tradition for 10 years, Habermann said.

“It’s still a kind of meditation and beauty,” he added. “It’s a rich harmony of a capella voices.”

The concert ends with British and American favorites such as “The First Noel”, “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “White Christmas”.

Founded in 1982 by Lawrence “Larry” Bandfield, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale is one of New Mexico’s oldest professional music organizations.

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