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Christmas Cantata for small choir with string quartet/quintet

I am looking for a cantata that uses a small string ensemble for accompaniment.  I am open to SATB or SAB, and I would be open to there being percussion also.  I only have the budget for 5 or 6 instrumentalists.  Any suggestions?
Replies (14): Threaded | Chronological
on July 13, 2012 6:57am
James Woodman A Midwive's Tale.   Finzi In Terra Pax.
on July 13, 2012 8:03am
Chris: The Vivaldi "Gloria" uses strings but has trumpet and oboe. I have a Christmas Suite of 4 carols for strings and organ: Still Silent Night, I Saw Three Ships, I Woder as I Wander, and Angels We Have Heard on High. It is about 12.5 minutes long. If interested send me your e-mail and Iwill send a copy for you to see.
Jerome Malek
on July 13, 2012 6:55pm
How much are you wanting the small string ensemble? I know of some good cantatas that use 3 or 4 wind/brass/percussion instruments, so that would be within your budget for instrumentalists.
on July 14, 2012 7:47pm
The string ensemble is not a must.  Wind/brass/percussion is good too.  What do you have in mind?
on July 15, 2012 10:27am
Last year I used Candles and Carols by Mark Hayes (narration and new lyrics by Pamela Martin). In addition to the full orchestration Hayes also wrote an orchestration just for flute, trumpet, piano, string reduction (I had my organist play it instead of using a synth), and percussion that I thought sounded just as fitting as the full orchestration. Benjamin Harlan also has several cantatas with chamber orchestration available in addition to full orchestration. I did his Candlelight Christmas a few years ago with flute, oboe, violin, timpani, and piano to great effect.
on July 15, 2012 1:11pm
Charpentier Messe de Minuit
on July 16, 2012 4:55am
Take a look at HErzogenberg's The Birth of Christ.  Strings and flute, I think, but iwth careful choosing of movements you might not need the flute.
on July 16, 2012 5:07am
Chris, you might have a look at the Saint Saens Christmas oratorio. There are some lovely solo movements, but also some choral things.
on July 16, 2012 12:08pm
There are several wonderful cantata-like motets by Michael Praetorius that your ensemble would work with. Puer natus in Bethlehem is particularly nice. Also Vom Himmel hoch, Pueri nostri (Joseph lieber) and Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern. 
You might also be interested in some of the verse anthems by Orlando Gibbons. This is the record of John is quite well known (though that is for Advent). His See, see the word incarnate is also fun. There are verse anthems by some other Elizabethan composers as well, such as Amner's O ye little flock. 
Just a thought!
Jeff DeMarco
on July 17, 2012 5:36am
I have made my own editions of both the Gibbons works mentioned above and will gladly share them.
These are written into Sibelius, solve numerous voice leading problems in the instrumental parts,
and are much easier to read than the present published editions.  During my years at First Church in Cambridge UCC
in the 70s we performed these works numerous times, even out of "season," because the choir and congregation
enjoyed them so much.
on July 17, 2012 5:46am
Among the best ever composed is the Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi by Schütz, available in modern editions (Barenreiter's by my side here). The work is extended in length, but requires only string quintet and a few winds, SATB and soloists. It is somewhat challenging, but can be well prepared with plenty of rehearsal time. I suggest picking up CDs of various performances. 
on July 17, 2012 7:49am
Ooooops!  The Schütz work is scored for SSATB, maybe too many vocal parts for you. 
Or maybe you can hustle up a few more singers for this remarkable piece. JJ
on July 19, 2012 7:15am
Vivaldi Magnificat is not very difficul either.
on July 20, 2012 6:45am
JW Pepper has a new function this year where you can preview Christmas cantatas with sound and full choral score right on your computer.  I have subscribed to the service and every week or two, I get a new cantata to look over.  I also need cantatas for smaller number of instruments so I just click on the ones that have limited instrumentation which I can tell by going to the page for purchasing the cantata.  I have found one called " Let the Whole World Sing" by Joel Raney that is scored for 5 or so instruments.   ( parts around $60, I think). It is very nice but would be  in the contemporary vein of Christian music.  By the way, this service is free.
Hope this helps - I struggle every year to find a cantata where I don't have to purchase a $350 orchestral score where I can only use a small number of players. 
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