Attending a Christmas concert by the renowned Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea is an annual tradition for many people. On December 11, Rev. Alphonse Stephenson brought his talented musicians to St. Teresa of Avila parish for a concert to benefit our Capital Campaign. There was a large audience composed of the orchestra’s devoted followers as well first-time audience members, including Sr. Maureen and me (Sr. Mary Cecilia). When some discovered that it was our first time attending one of Fr. Alphonse’s concerts they told us that we were in for a real treat—and they were right!
One of the first things many audience members would have noticed was that there were no programs. Fr. Alphonse explained that not having a program helps listeners to more freely listen to the music, as opposed to using the program as a “checklist” and counting down towards intermission! Later on we learned that it also allows the conductor the freedom to change the program in the middle of a set! The atmosphere of the concert was friendly and intimate; since it wasn’t in a large performance hall you could sit close to the musicians—I was sitting so close to the string bass player I could read the music on his stand—and meet the performers at the intermission or after the concert.
The program consisted of many familiar Christmas songs in both well-known and less traditional arrangements as well as other selections from different genres like Broadway, pop, and opera. There was much diversity in the arrangements allowing for various instruments to be featured at different times. Also showcased were the three soloists: Victoria Cannizzo (soprano), Chris Pinnella (baritone), and Benjamin Sloman (tenor) who each sang solos and joined the orchestra on many of the familiar favourites. They are charming performers with wonderful voices and musicianship and were the perfect addition to the orchestra. The outstanding performances of all the musicians, as well as Fr. Alphonse’s fine conducting and entertaining commentary, made for a wonderful Christmas program that passed by much too quickly!