Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nathaniel Dett Chorale: 'An Indigo Christmas' 8 PM Dec. 16 & 19, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

[The members of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and its founder and artistic director, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, on the steps of the Canadian Embassy. The chorale performed there on the day of U.S. President Barack Obama's Inauguration Parade. (Photo courtesy of: John Beebe of John Beebe Photography)]
Deck the halls with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale

Patricia D'Cunha
Dec 15, 2009 12:00:29 PM

There's definitely no place like home for holiday music. Home to Toronto are an array of Christmas concerts -- some are new, but others, such as Nathaniel Dett Chorale's "An Indigo Christmas...," return every year. As is tradition with this holiday concert, now in its 11th year, the chorale performs at the Glenn Gould Studio. The 21-member chorale will perform a blend of contemporary and traditional compositions, featuring carols, spirituals and folk songs.

“While the concert retains its main "An Indigo Christmas..." concept every year, its theme, repertoire and guest performers are different. For example, in 2008, the concert's theme was 'great joy.' The founder and artistic director of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, founded the chorale in 1998, naming it after acclaimed African-Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943).

The "An Indigo Christmas... In Silent Night," concerts will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 and are available by calling Roy Thomson Hall at 416-872-4255, or online at


~ With Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, founder and artistic director of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, talks about "An Indigo Christmas... In Silent Night." ~

Q: What are some of the songs included on the repertoire list, and why did you choose them?

A: There are African folksongs including "Tambokenu Mwane" and "Nama Emonate"; a suite of traditional Christmas spirituals including "Rise Up," "Shepherd," "What Month Was My Jesus Born In" and "Shout for Joy"; a gospel version of "Mary Had a Baby"; some vocal jazz arrangements of traditional carols including "The Coventry Carol" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"; and some contemporary arrangements of spirituals including "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" and "Rockin' Jerusalem." [R. Nathaniel Dett is profiled at, which features a complete Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma of Lawrence University Conservatory]

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