St. Stephens’s United Church choir director and soprano Skye Donald will be performing alongside Knox United Church’s Jenny Vincent (on organ) in a noon concert Dec. 28 that brings a different kind of carols to the fourth day of Christmas. — File photo

Errington soprano brings carols from the Appalachians

Dec. 28 concert keeps merriment going into the 12 days of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas Skye Donald brings Parksville:

Appalachian carols,

by John Jacob Niles,

A cantatta by Scarlatti,

In concert with Jenny Vincent on organ.

Thursday, Dec. 28, is the fourth day of Christmas, and Errington soprano Skye Donald is happy to continue the season with some lesser-known carols by ethnomusicologist John Jacob Niles.

Donald will be accompanied by Knox United Church’s Jenny Vincent on organ, performing a setlist chosen by Donald and harkening back to her early days of vocal training.

Niles is known for having travelled through the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States to listen to and collect the folk songs of the people who lived there, said Donald.

Through listening to songs over and over and writing them down, or, later bringing recording equipment, Niles both collected the music and expanded on it and wrote new carols in the style of Appalachian folk music.

Donald has been acquainted with Niles’ music since she was about 12 years old, when she began studying under Knox’s former choir director Dottie Zander.

“During her studies as a young person (Zander) actually had the opportunity to work with John Jacob Niles,” said Donald.

“They are lovely and simple and easy to listen to,” she said of the music. “They’re kind of haunting, and they are very folk-like.”

Because they’re not as well-known as many other carols, most people likely will not have been listening to them for the past several weeks, Donald noted.

By introducing them, the concert will keep the spirit of Christmas, and bring something new for people to listen to.

The second half of the concert will feature a Christmas cantata by Scarlatti — a pastoral baroque piece that, while different in many ways from Niles’ work, describes the Italian countryside.

“It sounds very pastoral, or very folky, and that’s how I thought that the two were kind of tied together,” said Donald.

The concert, part of the Noon Hour Concerts series, takes place at Knox United Church on Thursday, Dec. 28, starting at 11:45 a.m.

Admission is by free-will offering at the door. Attendees are encouraged to bring a sandwich to eat for lunch, with coffee, tea and a yuletide cookie to be provided.

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