The Gryphon Carolers Holiday Concert
For 30 years the Gryphon Carolers have enchanted Bay Area audiences with their unique mix of musical innovation, wit, and pure heart. The Gryphon Carolers invite you to set aside a special night to bask in the warmth of a joyous celebration of music, love, and community. You'll smile, laugh, and clap along to some of the most infectious and inspiring holiday music you've ever experienced.
In addition to striking re-interpretations of your holiday favorites, the show also features the compositions of Bay Area luminaries Ed Johnson and Carol McComb.
Among the pieces on this year's program is Ed Johnson's sparkling version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" in baião rhythm. The baião is a rhythmic style originating from the northeast of Brazil. This infectious groove serves as a unique setting for this long-cherished traditional carol and helps to illustrate how musical styles from different cultures continue to "mash" together in new exciting ways. Kristen Strom, noted Bay Area saxophonist, is a featured instrumentalist on the piece.
Carol McComb's evocative "Christmas In The Deep South" resonates on multiple levels. Her arrangement beautifully weaves together two traditional Appalachian songs with an African-American gospel song. The piece conjures a stranger walking the streets of a small southern town on Christmas Eve. "As he walks," says McComb, "he can hear music coming from two churches on opposite sides of town -- the white church and the black church. When he is halfway between them, the music from both sources blends into one unified song."
Ed Johnson also provides a feel-good gospel version of "O Come All Ye Faithful", which takes a surprising turn partway through, transforming into a 70's soul disco classic!
Between the full-choir numbers, some of which are full-fledged extravaganzas, there are moments where things get intimate. One of these is Carol McComb's original song "Feels Like Christmas Eve". Presented with just acoustic guitars, fiddle, and bass, the minimal arrangement brings McComb's vocals and songwriting to the forefront.
A number that easily merits the label "extravaganza" is Johnson's multi-layered interpretation of "I Saw Three Ships". The arrangement intertwines the traditional melody with a joyous Irish jig and features the full choir plus fiddle, flute, mandolin, Irish whistle, guitar, and bass, culminating in a dazzling vocal cascade.
The show also has a distinct international flavor at times. Ed Johnson's "Mundo Feliz" is a Pan-American piece; a new Spanish-language interpretation of "Joy To The World," set in a distinctly Brazilian samba cancão musical style. Ed took an arrangement by Cuban composer/arranger Andres Alén and expanded it into a choral piece. Like many of Ed's arrangements, this piece showcases Johnson's flair for Latin jazz, an ability amply on display when he performs on the West Coast and beyond with his band Novo Tempo.
A holiday event you don't want to miss!
The Gryphon Carolers
2013 Holiday Concert
Ed Johnson & Carol McComb
Walter Bankovitch, Preston Carter,
Kathleen Johanneson, Brian Rice,
Valerie Rose, Kristen Strom,
& Holly Thuman
December 14, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Eagle Theater, Los Altos High School
201 Almond Avenue
Los Altos, CA
Map & directions
Help keep this 30+ year tradition alive! Become a Gryphon Holiday Concert sponsor.
The Gryphon Carolers are proud to be sponsored by
California Coast Music Camp
a non-profit organization serving the music community for twenty years.
The Gryphon Carolers are also grateful to the First Baptist Church
of Palo Alto for generously providing rehearsal space.