Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas in New York

We often complain about Christmas coming earlier and earlier each year. It is a bit ridiculous when the Hallowe'en and Christmas decorations are on the supermarket shelves at the same time. Perhaps they do it right in New York, where the tradition is that Thanksgiving is the beginning of the Christmas season, and Christmas doesn't begin until Santa Claus appears on the final float of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
Santa's Sleigh

For that very reason, while the angels are standing to attention, the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center (perhaps the world's biggest) wasn't being lit until last night, and so was still under scaffolding while we were in New York:
The Trumpetting AngelRockefeller Christmas Tree

Yet for us, Christmas came early at the world-famous concert venue, the Carnegie Hall. On Sunday 20th November, we experienced Christmas in New York, courtesy of David Phelps and the American Festival Choir with Marcia Ware.
Carnegie Hall

The American Festival Choir were brilliant - as we were gathering in the museum and gift shop before being admitted to our seats, we had heard a sneak preview, but nothing could have prepared us for the sight! The choir consists of 360 voices from 13 church choirs across the United States, and almost completely filled the Carnegie Hall stage. Their leader, Phil Barfoot (along with Rebecca J Peck) created 'The Hope of Christmas' which was performed for the first time on the night.
American Festival Choir

The soloist, Marcia Ware also sang several pieces over the course of the evening, but we didn't hear enough of her!

The star of the show and the main attraction, though, was David Phelps. I must admit that I wasn't overly fussed on him beforehand, having heard some snippets of his CDs and appearances on the Gaither musical productions. My opinion changed, not before the end of the night, but by the end of the first song! His range, tone, and ability is outstanding, combined with the fact that he had written quite a few of the songs himself.
David Phelps

Among the numbers he performed were his version of Hark the Herald:

Joy, Joy:

and the modern classic, O Holy Night:

(videos are obviously not mine, and not from the concert!)

Perhaps the funniest moment was when he forgot the words to one of his own songs - 'End of the Beginning', and so went back to start again, and forgot the same words a second time, but the audience kept him on track! Poor David, he was so embarrassed!

This was no ordinary concert, it was truly a time of praise to the newborn King. In a place where applause has rung for many of the great performers, there was just one being praised that night - the Lord Jesus Christ. A taster of heaven, perhaps, when not just 360 voices combine to sing the Hallelujah chorus, but a multitude without number fill heaven's high arches with the song of the Lamb.

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