Chorister Compline at Christmas has become a beloved annual tradition, and this season it’s back in person. The Trinity Youth Chorus will present Benjamin Britten’s festive A Ceremony of Carols Sunday, December 19, at 8pm ET in Trinity Church as a Compline by Candlelight service.
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the choir created a virtual performance of the work, which was featured on Comfort at One. This year, audiences can once again enjoy a live, in-person service.
“The choristers and I are very excited to be able to present A Ceremony of Carols,” said Melissa Atterbury, Trinity’s Associate Director of Music. “To sing for an in-person congregation, in a beautiful worship space like Trinity, makes a huge difference in the overall performance.”
Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols is considered a masterpiece, juxtaposing ancient and modern as Renaissance texts and plainchant intersect with Britten’s sonorous and colorful writing in a stunning choral work for treble voices with harp accompaniment.
Trinity Youth Chorus starts rehearsing A Ceremony of Carols at summer camp in August every year. The ensemble this year includes at least fifteen new choristers, who will give their first public performance of this piece on Sunday. For many seasoned members, the music and lyrics of this work are engraved in their memory.
“It never leaves once you have it memorized,” said Victoria Lee, who joined Trinity’s choir when she was seven years old. Lee is now a freshman at University of St. Andrews. She flew back to New York from Scotland last Saturday so she could join Sunday’s Compline service.
“No matter where people are studying, even people like me who are pretty far from home, we all get Christmas breaks. So, you always come back and sing A Ceremony of Carols with the choir. It’s a fun way to stay connected,” said Lee.
One of Lee’s friends in the choir, Alexis Brown, is a chorister who stayed in New York City for college. Brown still attends weekly rehearsals of the Trinity Youth Chorus.
She is also considering auditioning for Downtown Voices, Trinity’s semiprofessional choir, or joining the Chamber Choir at her school, Barnard College of Columbia University, in the new year.
Over the years, hundreds of students like Lee and Brown have fallen in love with singing with the choir. Some of them have even pursued careers in music.
“I have been singing in church since I was their age,” said Attebury. “After many years of performing myself, being able to pass that musical knowledge and experience on to our young people so they can continue the tradition is an honor and a privilege.”
The Youth Chorus plans on holding additional concerts in the spring, if public safety permits. For more information about planned in-person music performances from all of Trinity’s ensembles, review the 2021–2022 season schedule.