Date: Dec. 17, 1989
Venue: Pacific Ballroom, Hotel Vancouver
Ensemble: Vancouver Chamber Choir
Conductor: Jon Washburn
These two carols were composed as part of a set of new carols by British Columbia composers commissioned by the CBC for the Vancouver Chamber Choir in 1989. The other composers who contributed to the set of eight carols were Michael Conway Baker, Peter Berring, Steven Chatman, Imant Raminsh, Bruce Ruddell and Jon Washburn.
The texts for all the carols were by Margaret Fleming, wife of distinguished Canadian composer Robert Fleming. It was a family tradition for the Flemings to include a homemade Christmas carol (he wrote the music, she wrote the words) with each of their annual Christmas cards. A collection of these carols were later published by Waterloo Music under the title "A Wreath of Carols." The 1989 "Westcoast Carols" were commissioned and created, using Margaret's words with the permission of Waterloo Music.
The two contributions by Weisgarber are uncharacteristically short. Musicians familiar with Weisgarber will be astonished at the total absence of the stylistic traits for which he was best known, these two small, reverent, Christmas offerings being fashioned in the simple style of the traditional, English carol.
Weisgarber takes artistic license with Fleming's text in two places in "To Bethlehem the Heavenly Star" where her text included "extra words" that did not allow him to continue the rhythmic pattern he had chosen. He leaves out the word "are" in the line "With Shepherds they in rev'rence are gathered round Him," and the word "pay" in the line "for man and beast did homage pay to their Saviour".