Holiday Prelude Concert
Fall 2019 Concert Notes
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass and Steel
Sunday November 24, 2019 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut
- CD & Clips - Concert Photos - Rehearsal Photos -
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
Christmas Awakening! – Tina Heidrich
Our own Tina Johns Heidrich created this inspiring, vibrant work that combines the absolute joy of that very first Christmas morning, "Awake and Sing, for Christ is born today", with passages from Isaiah that foretell his coming. It incorporates Comfort, Comfort Ye My People, a paraphrase of Isaiah 40:1-5, written by Johann Olearius (1611 - 1684) and translated from the original German into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827 - 1878). The tune is from the Genevan Psalter, 1551 edition, and was composed by Louis Bourgeois (1510 - 1561).
Bells of Joy – arr. Larry Clark and Rae Moses
Larry Clark is the founder of ExcelciaMusic Publishing and has been the university band director at Syracuse University, among many diverse positions, including Music Editor for Warner Bros. Publications. Rae Moses is the choir director at a private school and also plays professionally in the Greater Houston area. Their outstanding choral medley of favorite carols with dramatic accompaniment begins with Joy to the World, written by Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748), an English pastor, who published more than 800 hymns as well as numerous sermons, treatises and poems in his lifetime.
The tune is ANTIOCH, composed by Lowell Mason (1792 - 1872), who composed over 1600 hymn tunes and is often called the father of American church music. He bequeathed his entire musical library, much of which was collected abroad, to Yale College. We Three Kings was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820 - 1891) as part of a Christmas pageant for his nieces and nephews in New York City in 1857. An Episcopalian priest who delivered the eulogy at the funeral of President Ulysses S. Grant in 1885, he continued to write poems and hymns throughout his lifetime. We Three Kings was so popular with his family and friends that he included it in his Carols, Hymns and Songs, published in 1863.
We Shall Light a Thousand Candles – David Rasbach
A composer, teacher and choral director with thirty years of experience in music education at pre-college and university levels, Mr. Rasbach has a passion for teaching and for choral music. His choral group, Rushingbrook Singers, performs for Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina every Christmas season. When most of the guests have gone, their tradition is to wind their way down to what was a magnificent indoor pool and sing this piece. He relates that the tiled room has the resonance of a cathedral and the sound is glorious!
1783 - 1826
Brightest and Best (Southern Harmony) – words by Reginald Heber; arr. Shawn Kirchner
The son of a wealthy landowner and cleric, Reginald Heber served for 16 years as a country parson and became the Bishop of Calcutta. He wrote 57 hymns in his lifetime, including Holy, Holy, Holy. He wrote Brightest and Best for the Feast of the Epiphany. In the past it has been sung to several hymn tunes, but this one is STAR IN THE EAST, a folk hymn that was first published in Harmonia Sacra in 1753 and later arranged by William Walker (1809 - 1875) for his Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1835.
All on a Bethlehem Night – Joel Raney; words by John Parker
Joel Raney learned to play the piano before he could read and has a master's degree in piano performance from the Julliard School. He has written soundtracks for more than 2000 commercials and numerous short films and has over 200 titles of religious music in print. His broad musical interests have led him to many musical genres, including this calypso setting of the Christmas story. The poetic description of that night in Bethlehem was written by John Parker, who has composed over 600 choral works, primarily for churches and schools.
1830 - 1894
The Rose – Ola Gjeilo; words by Christina Rossetti
Norwegian Ola Gjeilo grew up in a musically eclectic home and began playing piano and composing at the age of five. He studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music in London, and the Julliard School, where he received a master's degree in composition, and currently lives in Manhattan. This ethereal piece is from his Winter Songs album. Expect to hear more of his exceptional music in our repertoire in the future.
Christina Rossetti was a deeply religious poet who came from a family of talented artists and writers. Known for a variety of romantic, devotional and children's poems, she was regarded as the foremost English female poet of her time, and is the author of In the Bleak Midwinter and Love Came Down at Christmas. This lovely nature poem contrasts the qualities of various growing plants, from the lily to corn, to the apple tree, and concludes that the rose is superior to all. She often wrote poetry in which Jesus, and also Mary, were described as roses, so one can speculate that this poem could have another meaning as well.
Kim André Arnesen
His Light in Us – Kim André Arnesen; words by Euan Tait
As a young boy growing up in Norway, Kim André Arnesen began piano lessons at age six and added choral singing when he was ten. He is a remarkable composer and many in the audience today may remember his Requiem for Solace, performed by the Chorale last Spring. Welsh-Scottish poet and librettist Euan Tait lectures in English and Creative Writing and runs retreats that explore the inner life of great choral works. He has developed libretti with various choral composers, including several projects with Kim André Arnesen. They have written their own notes for this piece: "Christmas is a permanently new, permanently fresh and refreshing gift: the human heart is renewed through the gift not of riches, but of a tiny, fragile child. His Light in Us is a thanksgiving, and its key word is 'renewed', reflecting the glory of what goes on in our spirits at Christmas."
Chanukah Tonight! – David Avshalomov
A third-generation classical composer, conductor and vocalist, his first choral compositions were written for his high school choir. He has an undergraduate degree in music from Harvard and a PhD in conducting from the University of Washington. Presently he focuses on vocal, choral and band music, and recently completed his first two operas. His compositions have been performed professionally across the U.S. and in Europe, Russia, China, Japan and South America. This exuberant song gives a glimpse into the legend, tradition and modern observance of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
A Carol Celebration – arr. Tom Fettke
Educated in California, for many years Tom Fettke taught vocal music in California's public school systems. He was a church choir director and minister of music in churches for over 30 years. Today he is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician and workshop director and is also a composer, arranger and producer of music and recordings for the contemporary Christian church. His published works number in the hundreds, including this joyous Christmas medley. Rejoice, it is Christmastime is a traditional carol from Sweden and the words were written by Tom Fettke, the arranger of this medley.
O Thou Joyful, O Thou Wonderful was written by Johann Daniel Falk (1768 - 1826), a prominent German author and literary figure. After four of his seven children died of typhoid fever, he founded an orphanage for abandoned children and wrote this song dedicated to them in 1815 or 1816. It was written to the tune of the Catholic hymn O Sanctissima after he heard it sung by an Italian foundling in his orphanage. After his death, his assistant Heinrich Holzschuer (1798 - 1847) edited the second and third verses into the version that is sung today. The English translation is by Henry Katterjohn (1869 - 1931).
Sing We Now of Christmas is an English translation of the traditional French carol Noel Nouvelet, from the late 15th century. The Friendly Beasts has been added to the medley by Tina Heidrich. It is often called a traditional English carol, but its history is more complicated than that. It originated in 12th century France, set to the Latin tune ORIENTIS PARTIBUS and was used as part of the Fête de l'Âne, celebrating the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. The English words were written by Robert Davis (1881 - 1950) in the 1920s.
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly is a traditional Polish carol that is believed to date to the 13th or 14th century, although it was not published until 1908. Edith M. Gellibrand Reed (1885 - 1935) translated the text into English and published it in Music and Youth, a journal that she edited.
O Come, All Ye Faithful, or Adeste Fideles in the original Latin, has been attributed to be the work of King John IV of Portugal (1604 - 1656) and also John Francis Wade (1711 - 1786). The earliest manuscript has the name of King John IV, but the earliest printed version is in Cantus Diversi published by John Wade in 1751. The English translation was written in 1841 by English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley (1802 - 1880).
A King is Born – Sy Gorieb and Timothy Hosman; arr. Tim Sarsany
Sy Goreib spent 25 years in the music industry before being called to the ministry. He is now also an adjunct professor at The King's University. Timothy Hosman graduated from Grove's School of Music in Los Angeles and has a diverse music career in commercials, television projects and films. Arranger Tim Sarsany is an accomplished composer and arranger focusing on choral work. Dr. Sarsany is also a visiting professor and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University in Ohio. Together they have created a wonderful calypso Christmas experience!
A SPANISH CHRISTMAS
Four eclectic works from diverse Spanish language traditions
James E. Bobb
1932 - 2007
All Earth is Hopeful (Toda la Tierra) - Alberto Taulé; arr. James E. Bobb
Monsignor Taulé was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain and had graduate degrees in both theology and sacred music. His areas of specialization in music were organ, composition and Gregorian chant, but he also wrote what he referred to as "the new type of songs" that had begun to appear in the Spanish Catholic Church in the 1960s. The text was written in Catalonian in the early 1970s, and the translation is by Madeline Forell Marshall (b. 1946). Arranger James Bobb is Assistant Professor of music and director of the renowned St. Olaf Cantorei at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. This piece was commissioned for the 2015 St. Olaf Christmas Festival.
1924 - 2011
Carol of Joy (Alería) – arr. Richard Zgodava
This joyful piece is a traditional Spanish folksong that is popular throughout most of the Spanish speaking world. Richard Zgodava was the official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and a primary pianist for the Bach Society. His almost fifty years as a choirmaster and organist led him to compose and arrange choral music, especially for the Christmas season.
Duérmete, Mi Corazón – arr. Judith Herrington
This beautiful arrangement of a traditional Bolivian lullaby is by conductor, composer, and teacher Judith Herrington.
A la Media Noche – arr. Greg Gilpin
A traditional carol from Puerto Rico describes what happened "At the Hour of Midnight" when Christ was born. Greg Gilpin's first choral works were published while he was still in college. He is an award-winning composer and arranger, as well as a conductor. In addition to his work in music education, he is also a studio musician and producer.
Remembering Decembers – Pinkzebra
A nostalgic look back at treasured winter memories of past Decembers with hopeful thoughts of creating new and lasting memories in the present. Pinkzebra is the pseudonym of a successful music producer and composer. In his career he has been signed by a major record label, composed and produced music for television and film, written music for hundreds of commercials and had his music performed by major symphony orchestras.
1906 - 1985
1909 - 1985
Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling – Paul Smith; words by Don Raye; arr. Mac Huff
This bright and cheerful sleigh ride song was recorded and made famous in the 1950s by the Andrews Sisters, the most popular female group of the era. It was included in the album A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters from the 50s. Patty, Laverne and Maxine formed their group when Patty was only 7 and went on to win talent contests and sing at various local events. When their father's restaurant failed, the sisters went on the road to support the family. They appeared in 17 Hollywood movies and sold over 90 million records world-wide.
Don Raye, who wrote the words to the song, started out as a vaudeville song and dance man, but realized that he could be even more successful writing music for others to sing. He had a long history of collaboration with the Andrews Sisters and even appeared in one of their movies, Buck Privates, playing one of the film characters and dancing with the Andrews Sisters. His music was played by everyone from Glenn Miller to Count Basie. Paul Smith, who wrote the music to VJing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling, was an Academy Award winning composer, best known for his work at Disney, including Cinderella, Fantasia and Pinocchio.
What Will Santa Claus Say? – Louis Prima; arr. Larry Shackley
From the great singer, trumpeter, composer and bandleader Louis Prima comes this 1936 Big Band style swing tune. Born in New Orleans, he developed a distinctive sound that encompassed jazz, swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, Dixieland, R & B and even the Italian tarantella! His career lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. In 1939, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt attended one of his performances in Washington D.C. and invited him to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday celebration. Photos of him with the President boosted his popularity, and by the mid-1940s he experienced great success. This song is included in the 2010 album Merry Christmas: 100 Best Songs Ever.
1900 - 1974
1911 - 1994
I'll Be Home for Christmas – Kim Gannon and Walter Kent; arr. Paul Langford
Written in 1943 in the midst of WWII, this sentimental favorite has gone on to become a Christmas standard. First recorded by Bing Crosby in October, within a month of the release, the song was a hit and remained on the charts for 11 weeks, peaking at number 3. The next year it was back on the charts at number 16. It was loved by all Americans, both soldiers and civilians, and earned Bing Crosby his fifth gold record. The GI magazine Yank commented that "he accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era". Kim Gannon was educated as a lawyer and passed the New York State bar examination in 1934, but he enjoyed songwriting and by 1942 was working in the film industry. He joined with Walter Kent to write the lyrics for I'll Be Home for Christmas. In 1951 they also collaborated for the Broadway show Seventeen.
Walter Kent studied the violin and went to the Julliard School on a scholarship, but he was also educated at CUNY and became an architect. He conducted his own orchestra in New York, but he also worked as an architect and wrote music in his spare time. After some success, he moved to Los Angeles and ventured more seriously into his musical career, while still continuing to work as an architect. He composed songs for films in the 1930s and 1940s, but as WWII began, his work turned towards the conflict. In 1941 he wrote There'll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover, and then in 1943 composed I'll Be Home for Christmas with Kim Gannon. He received two Oscar nominations for films, and worked again with Kim Gannon on Seventeen, which played on Broadway for five months, but he seldom wrote music after that. Chicago-based singer, arranger, keyboardist, producer and conductor Paul Langford has worked in the music industry for over 25 years. His jazz influenced arrangement of I'll Be Home for Christmas adds sparkle to the traditional version we all know.
Every Light that Shines at Christmas – Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, and Ernie Haase; arr. Wayne Haun
This wonderful Southern Gospel song is the product of a collaboration of friends. Producer, songwriter and orchestrator Wayne Haun is a 5-time Dove Award winner. He has conducted and recorded with the London Symphony and the Cincinnati Orchestra. He sings, plays the piano and produces for Ernie Haase and his group Signature Sound.
Joel Lindsey is the writer of over 2000 recorded songs and a popular composer in the Christian music industry. He and Wayne Haun started Sunset Gallery Music together many years ago. Tenor Ernie Haase started his popular Gospel quartet SignatureSound in 2003. In 2011 he helped to begin StowTown Records with Wayne Haun.
The three friends have written a powerful Gospel song that delivers an unmistakable Christmas truth: "Every light that shines at Christmas shouts, Hallelujah, Christ is born!"