Holiday Prelude Concert
Fall 2015 Concert Notes
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass and Steel
Sunday November 22, 2015 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
Ring the Bells! – Rosephanye Powell
An accomplished singer and voice professor as well as a composer, Dr. Powell composed this enthusiastic welcome to Christmas as a part of Christmas Give, a suite of six songs inspired by "precious moments" from her childhood. Her wish is that the bells of love, joy, hope and peace will be rung not only at Christmas but throughout the year. The Chorale won its first Gospelfest competition with In the Beginning, an early piece by this talented composer.
Make We Joy Now in This Feast – Ian Schofield
From the British composer's Christmas Sequence, Illuminare Jerusalem, this outstanding piece utilizes a fifteenth century text from "The Seldon Carol-Book" found in the Bodleian Library collection. His expertise in working with Medieval texts and music becomes obvious in this energetic and joyous work.
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Waltz Carol – Thomas Hewitt Jones
Winner of the 2003 BBC Young Composers Competition, this highly accomplished young composer creates appealing music for ballet and film, as well as instrumental and choral works. His lovely lilting melody is the setting for his own text recounting the angel's prophecy to Mary and the birth of Jesus.
George Job Elvey
1816 - 1893
1810 - 1871
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come – George Job Elvey; words by Henry Alford; arr. Mack Wilberg
This iconic hymn of Thanksgiving was written by Henry Alford in 1844 when he was Rector of Ashton Sandford. It was set to George J. Elvey's hymn tune St. George's Windsor in 1858. Dr. Wilberg, the current director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, has created an exceptionally eloquent arrangement with soaring lyrical lines and unusual harmonies that build to a majestic finale.
There Is Faint Music – Dan Forrest; words by Nancy Buckley
This stellar young composer is quickly gaining recognition for his superb choral writing. His memorable piece with its gently soaring melody and beautiful harmonies creates a vision of the Nativity that is filled with quiet awe at the miracle of the baby's birth. Nancy Buckley's lovely poem, Wonder, was published in Our Lady's Praise in Poetry in 1944.
1919 - 2015
Birthday Carol – David Willcocks
Sir David Willocks was particularly well known for his beautiful choral arrangements of Christmas carols, many of them written especially for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge, where he was Music Director Emeritus up until his death in September. This piece in particular displays his outstanding skills in composition and lyrics, telling the story of Christmas with joyous energy and spirit.
1824 - 1884
John Mason Neale
1818 - 1866
Henry Sloane Coffin
1877 - 1954
Longing for Emmanuel – Bedřich Smetana; words by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin; arr. Don Hart
"The Moldau" is the second part of Czech composer Smetana's symphonic cycle dedicated to his homeland and describes the beautiful river known in the Czech Republic as the Vitava. Written in the 1870s when he was deaf and in poor health, many people regard this emotional musical homage as one of his finest works. The traditional favorite O Come, O Come, Emmanuel has a long and complicated history. It is descended from some of the oldest Christian prayers from the 8th century, Latin antiphons which were chanted as part of the Vespers during Advent. In the 12th century or perhaps even later, an unknown author took some of the verses and put them together to form a hymn with the addition of the Latin refrain "Gaude, gaude Emmanuel..." or "Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel", John Neale translated the hymn into English and published it in Medieval Hymns in 1851. There was another revision in 1854, but the final revision in Neale's Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1859 was the version we all would recognize. With Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin's translation of two additional verses in 1916, it finally became the beloved carol that we sing today at Advent. Composer and arranger Don Hart had the inspiration to bring the two works together, resulting in this unique creation that conveys the pathos and yearning of the wait for the Messiah.
Mi Y'malel – arr. Sid Robinovitch
A traditional song in Hebrew which relates a passage from Proverbs is skillfully arranged by a composer/arranger who earned a PhD in Communications and became a college professor before he decided that he really wanted a career in music. His musical areas of interest and expertise are widely eclectic, but he has composed and arranged many concert works based on Jewish themes, as well as world folklore.
1957 - 2015
Festive Noels: A European Celebration of Christmas – arr. Bob Krogstad
An established conductor, composer and arranger, Mr. Krogstad's music was featured in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, the Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and many other prominent productions. He was also the musical director for Natalie Cole, Mel Tormé and Sandy Patty, and was known as "Mr. Christmas" because of his many arrangements of Christmas music. This wonderful collection of European carols connected by joyously exuberant Noels is the perfect Christmas medley and includes "Sing We Now of Christmas", "Shepherds Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep'', "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella'', "See Amid the Winter's Snow" and "Oh, How Joyfully".
Keresimesi Ǫdun De O - Nigerian Christmas Song – arr. Wendell Whalum
A legendary musician, composer and educator, Dr. Whalum was Chairman of the Music Department at Morehouse College, an organ soloist who performed with the Atlanta Symphony, and a Conductor at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. His dynamic arrangement of this Nigerian Carol in the Yoruba language was created originally for his award winning Morehouse College Glee Club.
1919 - 2006
Born to Rule - Jamaican Christmas Song – words by Louise Bennett; arr. Michael Burnett and Peter Hunt
Louise Simone Bennett, or Miss Lou, as she was known, was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, comedian, actress, teacher and activist who led the movement to preserve the traditional music and language of her country. Her most famous recording is her rendition of a Jamaican folk song "Day Dah Light" in 1954, which was heard by Harry Belafonte and became "Day-O", or the "Banana Boat Song". She also played Portia in the film Club Paradise with Robin Williams and Peter O'Toole. The arrangers, Michael Burnett and Peter Hunt, are both music educators and conductors in England, but spent much time in Jamaica studying the music of the people and have written a book of popular and traditional songs from Jamaica.
Tina Johns Heidrich
A Calypso Puer Natus – Tina Johns Heidrich
Puer Natus is probably older, but was first published in 1582 in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Latin church and school songs. From that time it has been translated into many languages and given different musical settings through the centuries by composers such as Praetorius, Bach and many others. Our gifted Conductor and Director, Tina Johns Heidrich, has chosen to breathe new life into it with an exciting setting in the Caribbean world of calypso music, complete with steel drums!
1899 - 1984
1885 - 1928
David A. Seitz
Velvet Shoes – Randall Thompson; words by Elinor Wylie; arr. David A. Seitz
Randall Thompson was a popular American composer, conductor and teacher, best known for his many choral works. As a Harvard student, he was turned down when he tried out for the Glee Club, and later related, "My entire life has been an effort to strike back." His success was unquestionable. He eventually became chair of the Harvard Music Department where one of his many students was Leonard Bernstein. His ethereal setting of Elinor Wylie's poem Velvet Shoes is a perfect example of the extraordinary sensitivity he expressed through his music. Velvet Shoes was first published in Poetry Magazine, and later in Elinor Wylie's first book of poetry. A novelist as well as a poet, she was greatly admired for her beauty and her writing, but she became notorious for her personal life which included multiple affairs and marriages. Composer/arranger David Seitz seems to have an affinity for arranging Randall Thompson compositions. As a composer he has written more than 125 pieces for his church choirs to sing.
Bell Carol – arr. Heather Sorenson
Ukranian Bell Carol is based on a traditional folk chant that was originally part of a pre-Christian spring celebration in Ukraine. It was composed by Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) in 1904 with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978) and was first introduced in this country in 1921 when it premiered at Carnegie Hall during a concert by the Ukranian National Chorus. Composer/arranger Heather Sorenson has added her own words and created a stunning new arrangement in which the joy and energy of the longtime favorite are intensified by a dynamic new 4-hand piano accompaniment.
The World for Christmas – Anders Edenroth
A member of a renowned Swedish vocal jazz group as well as a composer and father, Mr. Edenroth has taken his inspiration from The Night Before Christmas and combined that anticipation of Santa and his presents with the wish of a small child who deserves to inherit a planet that is beautiful and healthy for the future.
1928 - 2008
1912 - 1986
I Love the Winter Weather – Ticker Freeman and Walter Brown; arr. Mack Huff
Composer, arranger and conductor Ticker Freeman was the musical arranger and conductor for the Dinah Shore show in the 1950s and wrote popular standards such as So Dear to My Heart and You'll Always Be the One I Love. W. Earl Brown was also a stalwart in the music business as a singer as well as composer, arranger and writer of special material. In the 1940s and 50s he was the arranger and singer for "The Skylarks" and in 1968 he wrote If I Can Dream for Elvis Presley, an instant hit that became a gold record. The great songs of these two men have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and many others. Pianist, composer, and arranger Mac Huff has also been the exclusive arranger for many Broadway shows including Bye Bye Birdie, Rent, Guys and Dolls, Hairspray and The Producers. This terrific arrangement is enhanced by the surprise addition of lines from Irving Berlin woven in so seamlessly, it seems almost as if they were always there.
1902 - 1982
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus – Leon Rene; arr. Mack Huff
This often overlooked songwriter was an important figure in the early development of both rhythm and blues and rock and roll. He and his brother Otis established and ran Excelsior Records and later Exclusive Records. His most famous composition was When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano, which spent many weeks at the top of the hit parade. He also wrote Rockin' Robin, When It's Sleepy Time Down South and Gloria. He was the grandfather of former X Factor contestant Chris René. This is also another great arrangement by Mac Huff, who seems to have a special feel for the music of this era.
Christmas Is the Best Time of the Year – Don Marsh and Lorie Marsh
This husband and wife team has four children and are musically prolific both together and separately. Lorie is a producer and director as well as composer. Don has spent his career composing, arranging and producing Christian music as well as other genres. His body of work runs the gamut of musical styles from contemporary to Southern gospel and Big Band swing to classical. He has worked with many singers including Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle. This upbeat work combines Big Band music and Christmas excitement with great success!
BIG BAND CHRISTMAS