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'The Hill' Was Alive


Michael Caruso

Chestnut Hill Local


‘The Hill’ was Alive

Chestnut Hill was alive with the sound of music Saturday, Dec. 9. At 2 and 5 p.m., the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia performed its annual “Feast of Carols” concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It was packed for both performances. Then, at 7:30 p.m., Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, celebrated “Christmas in Southern Germany,” again before a packed house at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

Artistic director Dominick DiOrio led the symphonic-size Mendelssohn Chorus in a broadly varied program of Christmas music that spanned the centuries and covered a generous bounty of emotions. From the newly composed (by DiOrio, himself) “Four Postcard Carols” to traditional carols reaching back into history and more contemporary scores, he and his choristers proffered powerful renditions of the delicate adoration of the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem two millennia ago.

Most impressive was the large choir’s soft singing. It’s not all that difficult to produce loud singing from a big chorus. It is quite difficult, indeed, to elicit singing of the softest dynamic level while still maintaining flawless tuning, immaculate balance and seamless blend.

In his work at the podium – as well as that of several assistants – DiOrio was graciously aided by the playing of the Timberdale Brass, pianist Ting Ting Wong, and organist Andrew Kotylo, the organist and choir director at St. Paul’s Church.

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