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Tradition Endures: Announcing Starry Night, Christmas in Harvard Square

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

T R A D I T I O N E N D U R E S :

Saint Paul’s Choir School to Debut Christmas Concert Film

Starry Night performance delivers incomparable

musical celebration of the season in the European chorister tradition

CAMBRIDGE, MA In the spirit of continuing its annual holiday season tradition amid the pandemic, Saint Paul’s Choir School (SPCS) presents the filmed concert performance Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square, featuring The Choir of Men and Boys at Saint Paul’s, streaming in premiere online on Saturday, December 19. The performance is conducted by SPCS Director of Music and Choirmaster James Kennerley, with accompaniment by Assistant Director of Music Maks Adach, as well as Kennerley, on Saint Paul’s majestic pipe organ, filmed by Crowley Digital. Contributions to view the film and support the performance begin at $20, available at

In this season’s anxious atmosphere of social distancing, Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square is a beacon of musical hope. The performance is inspired by the stillness of Vincent Van Gogh’s magical painting masterpiece Starry Night, depicting the wonder found in the night sky and embracing the spirit of Christmas celebration. Fifteen musical selections span perennial Christmas favorites by Johann Sebastian Bach to modern-day compositions of John Rutter, as well as original arrangements by Kennerley and Theodore Marier, SPCS founder. Sublime soundscapes and heavenly voices are heralded in works by Harold Darke and contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre, shining side-by-side with more obscure gems like the buoyant Sir Christèmas by Welshman William Mathias, Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, and a setting of the Medieval poem, Adam Lay Ybounden.

During this year it has become crystal clear just how much we all need music in our lives,” shares Kennerley. “Choral music is so very special around Christmastime. In light of the need to adapt this season, we created a program that welcomes the listener inside the performance, as if they were immersed in the music and sitting among us, as our community has since 1963. Selections inspired by Van Gogh’s famous painting include several arrangements that I composed just for this performance – pieces that I particularly loved to sing myself as a boy chorister.”

Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square delivers stunning works that conjure imagery paralleled in Van Gogh’s masterpiece, painted in Southern France in 1889 – glorious swirling music enlightened by a night sky of glistening voices heralded by the light of illuminated stars. Van Gogh himself once wrote “But the sight of the stars always makes me dream,” and here, The Choir of Men and Boys bring their finest performances, in full voice – in Van Gogh’s own words – “more alive and richly colored than the day”.

“This concert film, like Van Gogh’s masterpiece, offers a calming experience to music lovers wherever they may be,” says Dr. Thomas Haferd, SPCS Head of School. “For the Saint Paul’s Choir School community, the performance is a welcome reminder of the traditions that, now more than ever, ground and define us all.”

Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square premieres on December 19, 7 pm via viewing hyperlink. The performance is available to supporters on YouTube and Vimeo, where viewers can stream on the device of their choice, including Smart TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, Chromecast, AppleTV and Roku via YouTube and Vimeo apps through desktop, laptop and tablet devices or smartphones.