Arts & Entertainment

A masterful lineup for the Mastersingers

Musician Justin Raffa is true to his word that concerts performed by Tri-City-based Mid-Columbia Mastersingers will remain free to students in grades K-12.

So grab the family and get into the holiday spirit by attending the "A Boy Was Born" holiday choral concert Dec. 20 in Richland. An encore performance is Dec. 21.

"This year's holiday concert is a departure from the norm," said Raffa, who is the new music director for the Mastersingers. "I personally gravitate away from the commercialism of Christmas. To me, the holiday season has always been a time of peace and inner reflection."

With that in mind, Raffa chose a selection of music that reflects just that attitude.

Songs to be performed include A Boy Was Born; Ave Rex, which translates to "Hail! King" and springs from the medieval period; the Appalachian tune I Wonder as I Wander; a haunting English piece called Coventry Carol; a hymn by Michael Praetorius titled Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming; a comical selection of tunes from Nativity Madrigals, and Vaughan Williams' adaptation of Greensleeves, which is taken from the opera Sir John With Love and carries the familiar melody of What Child is This.

"This is arguably the most difficult music the choir has ever tackled in one concert," Raffa said. "We all know that great art isn't easy to make and doesn't get thrown together overnight, so the fact that we've been working harder than ever on this music should reflect on the quality of the concert."

Raffa added that there will be a lot of musical contrast in the program, and he says it should make for an intriguing concert.

"There'll be a balance between fast/slow pieces, a cappella/accompanied pieces, one piece with organ, one piece with harp, one piece with handbells," he said. "Most choral concerts that lack this contrast are, frankly, boring and I will never program a boring concert!"

Making a guest appearance at the Mastersingers Christmas concert will be the Three Rivers Children's Chorus, which Raffa also directs.

The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, formerly known as Consort Columbia, is a 40-member ensemble formed in 1986 by former Tri-Citian Estyn Goss to bring Tri-City audiences professional quality choral concerts.

Tickets to the holiday show are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and college students. Tickets are available in advance at Tri-City area Bookworm stores, online at, or at the door.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;