by John Rutter
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Great Hymns of Praise
by Mack Wilberg
Winter 2010 Concert Notes
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra
Sunday March 14, 2010 - 3:00pm
- Clips -
St. Rose of Lima Church, Newtown, Connecticut
Magnificat – John Rutter
John Rutter is regarded by many as the world’s greatest living composer and conductor of choral music, and Magnificat is often considered to be his most significant contribution to choral literature. This glorious and uplifting seven movement work is beautifully written for soprano and chorus, superbly orchestrated, and a wonderful example of just why the composer is so popular with singers and audiences alike. Rutter’s unique combination of beautiful melodies, sonorous harmonies and brilliant fanfares are evident throughout the work.
Born in London in 1945, John Rutter began his musical education as a member of the chorus at Highgate School in North London and went on to study music at Clare College, Cambridge. His first published compositions and his first recording as a conductor occurred while he was still a student there. From 1975 to 1979 he was the Director of Music at Clare College, and left that position in order to have more time to compose. He founded the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir dedicated to recording and presently divides his time between composing and conducting.
Magnificat (My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord) was written in 1990 and was the centerpiece of our inaugural concert in November 1999. We were thrilled to sing it with John Rutter himself conducting at Carnegie Hall on Easter 2002. We found that while he had very definite designs on how he wanted his composition to sound. He was patient, unassuming and completely charming in conversations at break times. And when rehearsals were finished for the day he even took time to autograph everyone’s score.
There have been many musical settings of the text, but Maestro Rutter was particularly influenced by the J. S. Bach masterpiece, which also extends the original text. He has said that he was not sure how to approach the project until he found his inspiration in the celebrations for the Virgin Mary in countries such as Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico which are joyous opportunities for the people to take to the streets and celebrate with singing, dancing, and processions.
Great Hymns of Praise – Mack Wilberg
Mack Wilberg is the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and has been their primary arranger for many years. Raised in a small town in Utah, his father was a coal miner and his mother was a school teacher who realized that he had talent, made arrangements for lessons, and drove long distances to further his musical education. First introduced to choral music in college, he was immediately attracted and knew that was what he wanted to do with his life.
Today, Dr. Wilberg is active as a pianist, chamber musician, clinician, composer, arranger and guest conductor throughout the United States as well as abroad. The innovative arrangements of this talented composer and conductor inspire performers and audiences throughout the world. Great Hymns of Praise includes seven works that reflect the depth and variety of his craftsmanship.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Composed in German by Joachim Neander, set to a 17th Century German tune, and originally published in 1665, this splendid hymn paraphrases Psalms 103 and 150 and was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth in 1683. Mack Wilberg’s arrangement of this well-known hymn is filled with grandeur.
Peace Like a River
Wilberg’s sensitive treatment of this African-American spiritual is particularly remarkable for his creative orchestration which includes stringed accompaniment replicating the sound of gently flowing water. The imagery of a river, deep, abiding, constant, and unchanging has long been a symbol of inner peace.
Arise, Oh God, and Shine
Written by William Hurn, and first published in a book of 418 hymns in 1813 when he was Vicar of Debenham, this little-known work has been set to a tune by John Darwell, a prolific clergyman, composer and poet who wrote it as music for Psalm 148 on the occasion of the installation of a new organ at his church in 1773. This majestic piece is a perfect example of the creative ability that has made Dr. Wilberg one of the most respected choral arrangers in the world.
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
Isaac Watts, a renowned theologian and logician, was also the first to write new poetry to be used in Christian worship services. Known as the “Father of English Hymnody”, he paraphrased the beginning of the 23rd Psalm in 1719 to create this beautiful hymn which has been set to many tunes in the intervening years. The melody comes from William Walker’s Southern Harmony Songbook of 1835, which may be the most popular tune book ever printed. This arrangement evokes tranquility and peace.
Come, Come, Ye Saints
This early Latter-day Saint hymn has been called the anthem of the 19th century Mormon pioneers. The lyrics were written in 1846 by the Mormon poet William Clayton as his pioneer caravan rested in Iowa on its way West. Originally titled “All is Well”, it was later renamed and features prominently in celebrations of Pioneer Day in Utah. It builds intensity and anticipation from verse to verse, ending triumphantly in a final grand “All is Well”.
Be Thou My Vision
The original Old Irish text, Rop tú mo Baile, is attributed to Saint Dallan Forgaill, a sixth century Irish monk, poet and scholar. It was translated into English by Mary E. Byrne in 1905 and versified by Eleanor H. Hull in 1912 to become the text that is still used today. Using the traditional Irish air Slane, this setting includes lilting orchestral interludes that are reminiscent of the music of Ireland.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Charles Wesley, who was an Anglican priest and composer, included this hymn in a book published in 1747. One of the founders of Methodism movement, he wrote thousands of hymns that expressed his religious ideals. Set to the tune Hyfrydol by the Welsh composer Rowland Prichard, this expression of praise and adoration achieves magnificence in the hands of Mack Wilberg.
Below is a score of John Rutter's Magnificat autographed when the Chorale
performed at Carnegie Hall under the direction of the Maestro.
"For Tina with every good wish, John Rutter, New York, Easter 2002"