Monday, October 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on December 6th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 40

LOCAL NOTES: The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale prepare program of holiday favorites


Tradition is the red thread that ties centuries of Christmastimes together, and music is the bow that fastens it all up.

The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale’s upcoming concert, Festival of Carols, pays vocal tribute to those traditions. The festival happens the weekend of Dec. 16 and 17 and includes classical through contemporary holiday music, said Shannon Casey, the community choir’s president.

Holiday music, especially as sung by choirs, is part of a long Western musical tradition, Casey said.

The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, Youth Ensemble, and Orchestra have been preparing their annual holiday concert, Festival of Carols, under the direction of Michael Eglin, who took the reins of the chorale in September 2016.

“The celebrations at the wintertime always involved music and song because it was meant to help drive the winter away,” she said. “That was the original pagan celebration, right, and then the Church of England or the Christian religion kind of absconded with those traditions.”

Some of the more classic carols will be heard during the two concerts, but there will also be more modern sounds as well.

There’s a mix of works by songwriters and composers, from Vince Guaraldi or Mel Torme to R. Vaughan Williams. Songs like “Silver Bells” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are audience favorites, Master Chorale Director Michael Eglin told the Sun, but the classical pieces are also well known.

“There’s really something for everyone,” Eglin said.

Eglin, who is a composer, director, and arranger, knows his music history well. He pointed to a tradition of reflective and contemplative tunes that were composed for the advent season, which weren’t all holly and jolly.

Hear their voices
The Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, Youth Ensemble, and Orchestra present the holiday concert series, Festival of Carols, on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Solvang Veterans Hall, 1745 Mission Drive, Solvang. Tickets are $20 and $15 for seniors if bought in advance, and $25 and $20 at the door. More info: (805) 350-4241 or

“You’ll find more hymns in minor in advent than you will in passion time,” he said. “And I think that’s crossed over in our secular songs. There’s a saccharine nostalgia. We’re looking back and reflecting.”

One of the pieces on the program is an old French carol, which Eglin adapted and arranged for the Master Chorale. There is also a Danish carol, a nod to Solvang and the Danish heritage in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The Master Chorale and Eglin won’t be alone; they'll be joined by the organization’s Youth Ensemble and Orchestra as well. The Youth Ensemble will lead some of the carol sing-alongs. The orchestra is eight local musicians who will provide instrumental supports to the chorale.

The members of the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale are volunteers, which Eglin said makes all the difference when getting a concert prepared.

“Everyone’s there because they want to be there,” Eglin said, “because they have an honest passion and love for music and giving it to the community.”

And for members of the Master Chorale, like the group’s president, Casey, it’s an annual tradition that the ensemble has enjoyed for decades. It’s a celebration, Casey said, that goes beyond the Santa Ynez Valley and the chorus, but back across the centuries.

“And it’s nice to take a break from all the shopping and just listen to some good music,” she added.


Managing Editor Joe Payne has been wassailing before. Contact him at

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