During the pandemic performance hiatus lasting between March, 2020 and our return to the stage
on December 11 th , 2021. The North Bay Symphony Orchestra underwent significant changes.
Unable to perform, or even practice together, our musical director Thomas Jones, undertook
organizing a large-scale recording project for Christmas 2020. Approximately 80 musicians
(choir members and instrumentalists) were encouraged to record their part while listening to a
click track. These tracks were combined into one digital presentation (Ave Verum). He
later searched out a piece of technology allowing the musicians to practice and perform in real-
time from their own homes. This technology was JamKazam – for which audio interface kits
needed to be purchased. This was made possible by the generous financial donation of loyal
This enabled our musicians to create five “virtual’ pieces of music (June, 2021) and were
available for viewing on our website.
The question became “when and under what circumstances will the NBSO be able to take the
stage?” There were many hurdles to overcome, including of course the continual threat of
changing restrictions with regard to the pandemic. A decision had to be made whether to proceed
with a Christmas concert. Decisions like this have to be made months in advance. This was a
risky decision, from a financial perspective. The co-vid threat never disappeared and influenced
the production. It was a one-hour show with no interval and only included strings. We could not
include brass, woodwinds or percussion. This was very limiting in terms of developing
repertoire. Even the simplest details proved challenging… for example, could we even find
billets for out-of-town musicians coming in to perform in the middle of a pandemic?
However, it all came together… both live and in on-line streamed format – also a first for the
This is what it looked like:
Concerto No. 8 (Christmas), Op. 6, No. 8 Arcangelo Corelli (1658-1718)
1. Vivace – Grave
3. Adagio – Allegro – Adagio
6. Pastorale ad libitum (largo)
Many baroque composers wrote Christmas concerti, and Corelli’s is among the finest. Every baroque Christmas concerto had two elements in common. Firstly, all are in a “concerto grosso” format: several soloists (2 violins and cello) are featured, creating intimate moments within the piece. Secondly, they all contain a “pastorale” movement, which Corelli saves for last.
This movement conjures a serene nativity scene by referencing sounds of the pipes and bagpipes used by shepherds in the Sicilian countryside.
Le Quattro Stagione: L’inverno, Op. 8, No. 4
The Four Seasons: Winter
Antonio Vivaldi (1675-1741)
I. Allegro non molto
Soloist: Calvin Cheng, violin
The Four Seasons is the best known of Vivaldi‘s works. Though not common for the time, he published the set of 4 concerti each with accompanying sonnets, perhaps written by himself. Below is an English translation of the Winter sonnet. Though the Four Season being conceived of either in Mantua or Vivaldi’s home town of Venice, in northern Ontario, we can still relate to much of it.
Allegro non molto
To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
To run, stamping one's feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold
Before the fire to pass peaceful,
Contented days while the rain outside pours down.
We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously,
for fear of tripping and falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and,
rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds course through the home
despite the locked and bolted doors...
this is winter, which nonetheless
brings its own delights.
A Forest Snowfall
Arr. David Bobrowitz
This evocative piece transports us to a forest at the beginning of winter where the evergreens and mossy paths are as yet untouched by snow. A flurry of snowflakes begins to fall: as the herald of the long winter chill soon to descend, the flurry causes initial dismay. Bleak winter thoughts are swept from our minds, however, as we are caught up in the beauty of the moment. The stunning contrast of the white snow against the deep green of the trees reminds us that though winter brings some discomforts, it also compensates with many pleasures.
Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), arr. Todd Parrish (b. 1971)
This work was originally composed in 1912 for a baritone soloist, chorus and orchestra. The themes are drawn from three southern English folk carols, “The Truth Sent from Above”, “Come All You Worthy Gentlemen”, and the “Sussex Carol”. The work also includes some brief quotations from other carols such as “The First Noël”.
This arrangement by Todd Parrish is written for a string orchestra and though abbreviated to roughly half the original length, still includes themes from all three featured Christmas carols, and retains the opening cello solo.
Suite of Carols
Arr. Leroy Anderson (1908-1975)
This suite, arranged in 1955 showcases some favourite as well as less familiar carols: "Pastores a Belén", "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", "O Little Town of Bethlehem", "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella", "Away in a Manger", and “Wassail Song”. Leroy Anderson demonstrates his mastery of arrangement, with unique and pleasing interpretations.
Arr. Mark Bernard
Featured in this work are the Christmas carols, “Joy to the World”, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “I Saw Three Ships”, “Still, Still, Still”, and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. It will take restraint to not sing along – fingers crossed for next year!
North Bay Symphony Orchestra:
Calvin Cheng (Concertmaster)
Sarah de Niverville