Why should the devil get all the good tunes? Even if Luther didn’t say this, he was on to something since he “borrowed” and reshaped many fine secular songs and Catholic chants into Protestant hymns. This holiday season we’ll dig up roots of beloved church tunes, follow them into the 21st century, and examine how one man changed the course of music. Explore this transformation as wrought by Bach, Brahms, Distler, Handl, Mendelssohn, Praetorius, and Walther, with guidance, spiritual and otherwise, from our “guest monk,” narrator Stephen Wilson.
The program includes chances to sing along with SFCA on popular Lutheran tunes, including “From heaven on high” (“Von Himmel Hoch”) and “Joseph lieber.” Trace the evolution of these tunes across five centuries, all the way to present-day works; the Choral Artists will premiere pieces by Composer-in-Residence Michael Kaulkin, Composer-Not-in-Residence Sylke Zimpel, and New Voices Project winner Ash Stemke.
Narrator and historian Stephen Wilson will be our guide for A Rebel’s Christmas, weaving a tale through this unusual program. Mr. Wilson, who studied historical linguistics at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, has written on Native American languages, Arthurian literature, and Sanskrit — not all at the same time. After teaching linguistics and English at Berkeley, Stanford, Cal State East Bay and other schools and universities, he is now a member of the history department at the College Preparatory School in Oakland.