December 4 2023

Christmas Reprise, A Treasured Vancouver Tradition, by J. Evan Kreider

Year after year, hundreds of music lovers make sure to add Christmas Reprise to their holiday calendars. ‘Reprise’ (as we fondly call it) is held on the last Saturday before Christmas. This hour-long concert presents fifteen to twenty unaccompanied Advent/Christmas choral works without the interruption of intermission or applause. We reprise some familiar favourites and add a few new works, possibly even a world premiere. One or two works are sung in surround-sound and, without fail, we conclude with Biebl’s Ave Maria.

This format can be traced back to Eric Hannan. In his first year as our Artistic Director (2002-2012), Eric easily persuaded our board to present an annual afternoon Christmas Reprise in Vancouver’s beautiful Holy Rosary Cathedral, tucked between the cathedral’s Masses. The board gave the project a boost by declaring that these concerts were to be free—the choir’s gift to Vancouver—though financial realities eventually trumped enthusiastic idealism. Since 2002, we have missed Reprise only twice: in 2006 we performed Handel’s Messiah on the last Saturday before Christmas and in 2020 Covid closed concerts worldwide. Paula Kremer, now conducting her eleventh Reprise, has faithfully continued our choir’s tradition. She has added a second venue, our Saturday evening Reprise in New Westminster’s lovely Queens Avenue United Church, and has introduced many new works to the Reprise repertoire.

There is something truly special about hearing sacred choral music of the season being sung in Vancouver’s most beautiful sanctuary as December’s waning daylight comes through the cathedral’s stained-glass windows, adding to the glow of the many candles lovingly lit by the faithful during this holy time of the liturgical year. As the years pass, singers, conductors, and listeners come and go, but all hope that Christmas Reprise will remain with us for many years to come. Gaudete!