I was not familiar with Brian Stokes Mitchell prior to this show, although I had seen him on the "Frasier" tv show. My wife and I saw this performance in person and were amazed. His rendition of "The Friendly Beasts" was quite moving. I agree with one of the earlier reviewers who said they wished there had been a little more sacred music and less secular, however. Mitchell and Hermann were wonderful, but I must say the choir has had better days, although they are still tremendous.
Sent this recently to my son serving a mission in Argentina. In his email he said he loves this CD. It's a good one!
I enjoyed especially Brian Stokes Mitchell's Friendly Animals. It was great for the children to hear and see. Thank you. Very sensitive with the reading by Hermann.
For the most part I loved this DVD. Several parts of it did get me teary eyed. Edward Hermann's telling of Henry Longfellow was one such moment, as was the choir singing "Once in Royal David's City." This is definitely a DVD worth owning, but I think I would like it even better if it had less of the secular and more of the sacred. The only thing that I really disliked was the imitating of the animal sounds in "The Friendly Beasts." This song has the potential of being beautiful and sublime. Imitating the animal sounds really kind of wrecked it for me. Overall though this is a great production and one worth having.
Within the last five years I have become a huge fan of the choir, and I am continually impressed by their work. I love them so much that I was willing to by and listen to a Christmas CD in mid-September. I just couldn't wait. Ring Christmas Bells is a great listen. I have to admit first off that I was not as impressed this year as I was last. Brina Stokes Mitchell and the choir perform wonderfully, and the individual tracks are fantastic, but as a whole, the CD lacks flow. I would like to repeat though, the tracks are fantastic. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" took some getting used to, but I have warmed up to the new arrangement. Through Heaven's Eyes" has always been a powerful song, but the choir was able to take it to a whole new level. Richard Elliot (who has become my favorite organist) did not disappoint with "Go Tell it on the Mountain". "Angels from the Realms of Glory" has been performed better in previous CD's. Mitchell is a little overpowering at the beginning. "Grateful", although not particularly Christmasy, is beautifully performed. The song that most eloquently bears the spirit of Christmas is "Once in Royal David's City". It is sung simply yet powerfully. I could go on about each track, but I just have to say they each are inspiring, and I recommend strongly this CD to get you in the Christmas mood.
Remember when you were a kid, and you really, really wanted a certain gift for Christmas, and how when you got up Christmas morning that you actually gotten it? Well, that's how it felt for me being at this concert last Christmas! Absolutely incredible program and the performances and musicality were beyond reproach. Just amazing. This DVD will definitely not disappoint.
My son and I came from Panama City, FL and were fortunate to have been able to see this performance live. It was a beautiful show, and my son and I were touched deeply. The Choir, Mack Wilberg, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Edward K. Hermann, all brilliant! When I came home, I shared the experience with everyone, and now they can finally see for themselves what I was trying to convey!