The Light of Hope Returning

THE LIGHT OF HOPE RETURNING comes to the La Verne Church of the Brethren

Anticipation grows as the performance dates draw near for The Light of Hope Returning, this year’s Christmas concert by the La Verne Church of the Brethren Sanctuary Choir.  Performances on Sunday, December 18 at 4 p.m. and Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m. will effectively end a three-year, pandemic-induced suspension of the choir’s Christmas concerts.  Once again, the performances will be in the historic and festively adorned sanctuary at 2425 ‘E’ Street, La Verne, California.  And also, once again, there is no admission charge. A freewill offering is asked and will be gratefully accepted.

An American folk oratorio, The Light of Hope Returning is a full concert work by composer Shawn Kirchner.  Pianist, organist, a tenor with the Los Angeles Master Chorale as well as their composer-in-residence from 2012 to 2015, Kirchner is well-known for his setting of the Kenyan song Wana Baraka and for Heavenly Home: Three American Songs – praised by the LA Times as “arranged with mastery”.  A YouTube search quickly proves Kirchner’s works are performed far beyond LA. 

Along with Kirchner on piano and hammered dulcimer, the choir will be accompanied by some of the area’s most accomplished musicians- the highly sought after and critically acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tom Luer, stage and screen actor and LA Master Chorale soloist Cynthia Marty, and MacArthur fellow, Street Symphony founder and the LA Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta.

The choir long-time director, Dr. Niké St. Clair ,will conduct this impressive assembly.  A mainstay of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Dr. St. Clair tours with LAMC’s dramatic productions of Lagrimé di San Pietro and Music to Accompany a Departure, both under the direction of Peter Sellars.  A frequent soloist for a large number of Southern California professional choral groups, Dr. St. Clair also directs choirs at Cal Poly Pomona and is a frequently requested session singer for countless film scores.

The Light of Hope Returning is a remarkable production combining traditional and new carols, the brilliant poetry of British-American novelist Susan Cooper, and the striking images by the award-winning, Syrian-born artist Kevork Mourad.  Two large screens in the sanctuary will display his works during the concert.  All these elements combine to expresses humanity’s eternal struggle between warm and cold, old and new, the dead and the living, the dark and the light.  The work accurately reflects our current state of global uncertainty but then reassures us how the passage of time and the cycle of the seasons bring hope, embodied in the ultimate return of light, a cathartic reassurance for us all and a clue to its popularity.  

After its 2019 premier in the San Francisco Bay area, choirs in Vancouver, British Columbia and San Antonio, Texas performed The Light of Hope Returning in 2021.  This season not only will it be performed in Altadena, Pasadena, and San Francisco but it has returned to the La Verne Church of the Brethren, the home church of its composer.  Plan to attend for no one should miss this heartfelt Christmas work. 

For more information, call the church office at (909) 593-1364.