The West Jersey Chamber Music Society will present Christmas Music Made in England and fundraiser gala at First Presbyterian Church in Moorestown on Dec. 11.
Under the direction of Joel Krott, the concert is being performed by the West Jersey Chamber Chorale and will feature “Missa Carolae,” by British composer James Whitbourn. Residents can sing along to traditional arrangements, and Moorestown native and conductor Sam Scheibe will present the premiere of “Magnificat.”
“All of my music pretty much, somehow, even if it’s an instrumental piece, has voices in mind, because it’s always just been kind of a center around my music-making,” Scheibe said. “All of my music just has choral textures and harmonies. All this stuff kind of builds into it, and it’s just been a big part of my ear, what I kind of found that I love in writing and making music.”
According to his website, Scheibe is an award-winning composer/arranger, conductor and performer of contemporary choral music. His work has been performed by various choirs and contemporary a cappella groups such as the West Jersey Chamber Music Society and the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir. He also worked for three years as a professional chorister and conductor at First Prebysterian, where he led the adult choir ensemble in rehearsals and performances, as well as the West Jersey Chamber Choir and the West Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
“It was a really, really important and crucial part of my education,” Scheibe recalled of his time at First Presbyterian. “Joel (Krott) was able to provide me with the practical application of that conducting experience, so he had me in front of the choir, conducting pretty much at least once or twice a month every month that I was there.”
As a student at the University of Aberdeen, Scheibe wrote a setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis – part of the Anglican service of evening prayer – that will be presented at First Presbyterian’s Christmas concert.
“The piece is written for organ, choir, and there’s a baritone solo in the Nunc dimittis that you’ll hear, and I wanted to somehow incorporate a little bit of jazz, pop and rock into the organ part of it and into the choir,” Scheibe explained.
“At the beginning, there’s a crawling, chromatic theme that comes in the organ with a lot of syncopated rhythms and things, and then the choir comes in with a bluesy melody at the beginning,” he added. “And then later, you hear the organ pick up into a rock-inspired theme that the whole choir sings with.”
Scheibe is excited for people to hear his piece at the holiday concert.
“One of my goals in my music is that I like things to be familiar but in an unfamiliar way,” he noted. “I want things to feel like they are intuitive but challenging in some way that might not be a norm.”
“I hope I’ve accomplished that, and I hope that the piece kind of lies on that border between feeling like it’s regular choral music, but also feeling like it might be something slightly different.”
The Christmas Music Made in England and fundraiser gala starts at 7:30 p.m. More information is available at https://wjcms.org.