Holiday Prelude Concert
Fall 2014 Concert Notes
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass and Steel
Sunday November 23, 2014 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
Welcome to Our Wondering Sight – Bradley Ellingboe
University of New Mexico Professor of Music Ellingboe is well known as a composer and arranger of choral music. He selected verses from the great English metaphysical poet and Cambridge scholar Richard Crashaw's poem In the Nativity of our Lord to create this joyful and inspiring anthem.
Noel! – Gordon Thornett
The traditional carol "The First Nowell" is believed to be of Cornish origin. William B. Sandys (1792-1874) and Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) edited and added lyrics to create a version similar to what we sing today that was published in their Carols Ancient and Modern songbook in 1823 as well as Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols in 1833. British composer and arranger Thornett has written an impressive and original tune to showcase the familiar text, filled with gorgeous harmonies and flowing noels that radiate joy.
Dark Is the Silent Night – Audrey Snyder
Beginning with her lovely description of the Mother and the baby in the manger, choral composer Audrey Snyder incorporates the beloved traditional "Silent Night" with lyrics by Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) and melody by Franz Xaver Grüber (1787-1863) and binds the two seamlessly together with an ingenious instrumental accompaniment, creating an extraordinary reflective atmosphere.
1598 - 1662
1586 - 1649
1827 - 1878
Now Thank We All Our God – Johann Crüger, words by Martin Rinkart, translated by Catherine Winkworth, arr. John Rutter
Any important royal event in England always includes the work of John Rutter, for reasons that are immediately apparent in this outstanding arrangement. From the dramatic opening with brass and organ to his soaring and lyrical vocal harmonies, he has created a majestic setting for this familiar hymn of Thanksgiving.
Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) – Amy Grant and Chris Eaton, arr. Lloyd Larson
British singer/songwriter Chris Eaton was a member of Amy Grant's touring band when she first heard his song "Breath of Heaven" from his album Wonderful World. She was working on a new Christmas album, Home for Christmas, at the time and wanted to use his song even though it had nothing to do with Christmas, so she asked him if she could revise the song for her album. Pregnant at the time, she rewrote the verses to reflect the experience of Mary as a frightened young girl who trusts in God. The result is this touching and eloquent piece with Chris Eaton's melody and refrain and Amy Grant's inspired lyrics.
When Will Messiah Come? – Ed Kee and Dale Mathews
With an impressive clarinet accompaniment, this expressive song of longing for the coming of the Messiah describes the thoughtful and quiet yearning for His presence, as well as jubilant anticipation that perhaps it could be this year.
1919 - 2008
Where Shepherds Lately Knelt (for men's voices) – Craig Courtney, words by Jaroslav Vajda
A pastor and hymnist who wrote his first hymn at the age of 49, Jaroslav Vajda wrote over 200 original and translated hymns in the next forty years, including this eloquent reflection that compares the shepherds' visit to the manger with the religious journey that all Christians make. Craig Courtney created this lyrical, sensitive and tranquil setting for men's voices.
A Carol Fantasy – arr. John Alexander
A splendid array of traditional Christmas carols are introduced by the joyous sounds of brass and bells in this glorious medley created by this prominent American professor, composer and choral conductor. In Dulci Jubilo and Personent Hodie are both found in Piae Cantiones, published in 1582 but are probably much older than that.
Saludo, Saludo from Puerto Rico and the Jamaican Christmas a Come will both feature the always-popular steel drums and Latin percussion instruments.
Ruth Morris Gray
Saludo, Saludo – arr. Ruth Morris Gray
This is an example of a traditional Puerto Rican Carol that is sung during a festive parranda, a gathering of friends and neighbors who join together to surprise other friends and neighbors on Christmas evenings. Everyone joins in singing both secular and sacred songs accompanied by authentic traditional instruments.
Christmas a Come – arr. Michael Burnett and Peter Hunt
English music professor and conductor Burnett has spent many years studying the music of Jamaica, and together with his fellow countryman and conductor Hunt has authored a book of both traditional and popular songs from Jamaica. This traditional Christmas song is cheerful despite the fact that it is seen from the perspective of the poor, who are a significant part of the Jamaican population. The repeated chorus "me wan' me lahma" refers to a desire for fabric woven with gold or silver, which the singer can't afford and the song goes on to express that she has "not a ring to me finger", "a teeth to me mouth" or a "hat to me head".
Amid the Falling Snow – Enya and Nicky Ryan, words by Roma Ryan, arr. Audrey Snyder
The ethereal sound that we know as Enya is in reality a partnership consisting of singer Enya Brennan, and the husband and wife team of Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan. Roma Ryan is the lyricist and Enya herself is the composer and primary singer and instrumentalist. Nicky Ryan is the producer and also assists with vocals and instruments. The magical winter imagery that is so beautifully expressed in this lovely song takes us all back to the memory of candle light and falling snow on a tranquil winter night.
Hine Ma Tov – arr. Neil Ginsberg
The lyrics to this traditional song in Hebrew are the first verse of Psalm 133, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". Singing is an important part of the celebration of the holy day of rest, Sabbath or Shabbat. A popular choice for Shabbat dinners or services, it is also the basis for several Israeli folk dances and has been used in films and recorded by many diverse artists. The arranger is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music
1901 - 1971
CHRISTMAS IN NEW ORLEANS – A tribute to Louis Armstrong.
"Satchmo" was the first Jazz soloist to achieve international fame as a trumpeter, entertainer and show business personality. We present three songs recorded and made popular by the "King of Jazz". All the choral arrangements are by composer/arranger Dr. Kirby Shaw who has extensive experience with Jazz and has scatted with such notables as Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and Chris Calloway.
1921 - 2000
Cool Yule (for women's voices) – Steve Allen
Best known as a comedian, Steve Allen was a gifted composer, lyricist, conductor, singer and pianist who wrote more than 8,500 songs, including this one, which was introduced by Louis Armstrong in 1953. It has also been recorded by Bette Midler.
1902 - 1980
1904 - 1949
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? – Eddie deLange and Louis Alter
Written by lyricist and bandleader Eddie DeLange with composer and pianist Louis Alter for the 1947 film New Orleans, a musical drama featuring Billie Holiday as a singing maid and Louis Armstrong as a bandleader. Holiday and Armstrong perform together and portray a couple who become involved romantically in this movie which also includes a number of classic jazz greats. The song has been recorded by many diverse artists including Frankie Laine, Fats Domino, Pete Fountain, Ricky Nelson, Al Hirt, Harry Connick Jr., Alison Krauss, Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Buffett and Nat King Cole.
'Zat You, Santa Claus? – Jack Fox
This amusing Christmas song of a mysterious knocking at the door (as the singer gets more and more worried about who it actually is) has been recorded by Garth Brooks and Harry Connick Jr., Winton Marsalis, as well as Louis Armstrong, and is perhaps the only Christmas song that is scary and funny at the same time.
Sy Miller 1908 - 1971 with
Jill Jackson Miller 1913 - 1995
Let There Be Peace on Earth – Sy Miller and Jill Jackson Miller, arr. Craig Courtney
After an early life filled with tragedy, Jill Jackson met and married Sy Miller, a musician and composer who encouraged her to write songs with him. They wrote many songs together, with Sy writing the music and Jill the lyrics. In 1955, they wrote this iconic song about their dream of peace and their belief that each person could help to create peace. They first taught the song to a group of 180 high school students of different religious, racial, cultural and economic backgrounds who had been brought together to experiment with creating friendship and understanding. From this group of teenagers the song has spread throughout the world. This beautiful choral arrangement inspires people of all ages and all walks of life to continue that dream.
Christ Is Born – Tim Greene, arr. Mike Speck and Cliff Duren
Evangelist, singer and songwriter Tim Greene has written over 550 songs and is part of the successful gospel music trio The Greenes. Portions of the traditional carols Angels from the Realms of Glory, O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing are interspersed with the jubilant message that "Christ is born and things will never be the same". This is music filled with the boundless excitement, energy and spirit of joy found only in Southern gospel!