NAVE performs this weekend in P’burgh, Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble will give two performances of a Festival of Lessons and Carols. Anthems, carols, and hymns illuminate the Christmas story along with community readers and congregational singing in the beloved tradition of King’s College, Cambridge:

-Saturday Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh

-Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid

NAVE, under the musical direction of Andrew M. Benware, is a mixed chamber choir of professional and amateur singers that perform choral music from a variety of periods and styles with harmonies of four to eight parts.

NAVE’s membership is truly indicative of its nomenclature “Northern Adirondacks,” being comprised of membership from points in Clinton,Essex, and Franklin counties. Distinct from other choral groups in our region, NAVE is essentially an a cappella chamber choir focusing on the rich and historical repertoire composed specifically for chamber choir unaccompanied by instruments.

NAVE’s Festival of Lessons and Carols follows the traditional model of those performed annually on Christmas Eve (since 1928) at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. The customary format is built around nine short Bible readings from the Old and New Testaments that trace the story of the fall of humanity and the promise of a Messiah to the birth of Jesus. Anthems, carols, and hymns are liberally interspersed throughout to illuminate the narrative musically.

NAVE will again vary the musical palette from previous performances while maintaining several congregational hymns and beloved anthems. Early music will retain a featured role with several pieces dating from the 16th Century including the festive anthems “Gaudete!” (“Rejoice!”), and “Psallite” (“Sing Your Psalms”), written in a macaronic style which utilizes Latin text along side the vernacular. Other notable pieces from the Renaissance include Thomas Tallis’s “Magnificat,” performed in English, and the 16th-century antiphonal motet “Hodie Christus Natus Est” (“Today Christ is Born”) by Jan Pieters Sweelinck.

More modern and complex harmonies greet the listener in the luscious “O Nata Lux” (“O Light Born of Light”) by Morten Lauridsen (1997), taken from his masterwork “Lux Aeterna.” In a style relatively new to the ensemble, NAVE will also illuminate, through musical means, the Biblical story of the wise and foolish virgins in the traditional African American Spiritual “Keep Your Lamps!” arranged by Andre Thomas.

The program also includes the traditional English carol “A Virgin Most Pure,” arranged by Charles Wood, and the 19th Century John Goss composition “See Amid the Winter’s Snow.” Of special note will be the rustic “Shepherd’s Carol” by the Colonial American composer William Billings that features abrupt meter changes, and the ensemble’s first foray into the rich oeuvre of Johann Sebastian Bach with the ultimate chorale from his Cantata 140: “Wachet Auf” (“Sleepers Wake”). A special addition to this year’s program will be the organ postlude “In dulci jubilo” BWV 729, also by Bach.

Community members will read the texts, which include passages from Genesis and the Gospels, as well as a contemporary poem, “Annunciation,” by Denise Levertov. The audience is invited to join with the choir in congregational singing accompanied by University of Notre Dame organist and Potsdam native Benjamin A. Stone. These familiar Advent and Christmas hymns include “Once in Royal David’s City,” “Come, O Long Expected Jesus,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” “While Shepherd’s Watched Their Flocks by Night,” “As With Gladness Men of Old,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Admission is a suggested donation of $10.

For more information, find NAVE on Facebook or email Drew Benware at