Something old, something new that time-honored formula made for an enjoyable evening with the Utah Chamber Artists on Monday.
Artistic director Barlow Bradford built UCA's Christmas program around two sets of carols, each set marking the centennial of its composer's birth: Benjamin Britten's beloved "Ceremony of Carols" and 10 of Witold Lutoslawski's less-familiar Polish carols. Though neither group of carols was written with a mixed choir in mind, Bradford said he couldn't resist presenting them. Hence "A Ceremony of Carols," usually sung by a three-part children's choir, was heard in a soprano/alto/tenor/bass arrangement by Julius Harrison. As for the Lutoslawski carols, Bradford explained that they were written for a unison women's choir, much to his dismay so he "very carefully added just a few little notes" so that his choir and orchestra could perform them with mezzo Corinne Rydman.
"A Ceremony of Carols" sounds like an entirely different piece when performed by an adult choir not just because of the added vocal parts, but because of the differences in timbre between juvenile and mature voices. For example, the lullaby "Balulalow" takes on a new subtext when the soloist is a woman (UCA soprano Melinda Kirigin-Voss at Monday's concert) rather than a child. Harpist Tamara Oswald accompanied the singers with consummate skill.