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'Laud to the Nativity' to be shown Sunday

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By Special to the Monitor

Orchestra, chorus and a manger scene combine in this special musical production for the Christmas season. "Lauda per la Nativita del Signore" ("Laud to the Nativity") by Ottorino Respighi will be presented Sunday during the 11 a.m. worship service. The public is welcome. Respighi’s Lauda is a pastoral work that depicts the birth of Jesus as the shepherds might have seen it. Respighi employs several archaic forms and devices such as madrigals and plainchante, to make this picture of the manager scene. The text is based on poetry by Jacopone da Todi, a 13th-century lawyer and Franciscan monk. In addition to the chorus, small wind orchestra and piano, the work features three soloists. An angel, sung by soprano Gloria Streit, announces the glad tidings about the birth of Christ to the shepherds. Mary, sung by dramatic soprano Louise Mendius, conveys her feelings as she gazes with awe and affection at her newborn son. The shepherd, sung by tenor Rene LeClaire, expresses regret that they had provided such a rude reception as a manger for the Christ-Child. The shepherds (sung by a four-part male chorus) are also in awe and wonder at their arrival at the manger. The makeup of the orchestra, double reeds and flutes, conveys the feeling of intimacy and a believable representation of a Bethlehem manger atmosphere. Orchestra members also contribute lush solos that complement the vocal score. Like other Respighi compositions, such as the "Fountains of Rome," the music expressively describes the subject in a romantic style. Musicians include Gerald Fried, oboe; Andre Palounek, English horn; Marjorie Selden and Kay Dunn, flute; Jim Preus and Bob Kelly, bassoon; Cindy Little, piano; and Tom Collins, triangle. Listeners may also focus attention on a live Manger scene, directed by Marthe Sims.