Holiday Prelude Concert

Fall 2022 Concert Notes

Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass

Sunday November 20, 2022 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut

- Concert Photos -
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
  • Douglas E. Wagner

    Douglas E. Wagner
    b. 1952

    Christmas Gloria – Douglas Wagner

    An internationally recognized composer and arranger, Mr. Wagner is now a full-time composer after 30 years as a music educator and administrator. His Christmas Gloria opens with dramatic organ, brass and voices that evoke the angels singing their glorias on high to celebrate the wondrous birth of the child in the manger.

  • Trevor Manor

    Trevor Manor
    b. 1985

    Unto Us a Son is Born – Trevor Manor

    Puer nobis nascitur was first published in 1582 in Finland in Piae Cantiones, a volume of 74 medieval songs in Latin. Composer and music director Trevor Manor did his own translation and created this splendid arrangement.

  • Lowell Mason

    Lowell Mason
    1792 - 1872

    Isaac Watts

    Isaac Watts
    1674 - 1748

    Dan Forrest

    Dan Forrest
    b. 1978

    Joy to the World – Lowell Mason; words by Isaac Watts; arr. Dan Forrest

    The most published Christian hymn in North America, Joy to the World was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts, a precocious child who began to learn Latin at age 4 and was writing poetry at 7. He became a minister and wrote sermons, poems and hymns, but today is best known for the more that 800 hymns he wrote.

    The hymn tune ANTIOCH was first published in Lowell Mason's The Modern Psalmist in 1839 as "Arranged from Handel" by Mason, but there has long been speculation over the facts. Today Handel scholars believe that the similarities are a "chanced resemblance", and that Mason, a known admirer of Handel, arranged something that he assumed was from Handel. Mason is known as the Father of American Church Music, and he was also the person who first introduced music education into American public schools.

    Dan Forrest has been one of the Chorale's favorite composers for some time. His experience with Irish traditional music inspired him to create this marvelous arrangement that gives new meaning to the word joy!

  • Ola Gjeilo

    Ola Gjeilo
    b. 1978

    Ecce Novum – Ola Gjeilo

    The text Ecce, novum gaudium was also first published in Piae Cantiones (1582) and the composer has used the first verse and the refrain for his exquisitely gentle choral setting, which can be found on his album Winter Songs. Norwegian Ola Gjeilo first came to the United States to study composition at the Julliard School. He is also an accomplished pianist and presently lives in Los Angeles.

  • Pepper Choplin

    Pepper Choplin
    b. 1957

    Little Drop of Heaven – Pepper Choplin

    The composer was inspired by "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" when he wrote this beautiful a cappella Advent anthem that incorporates a longing for peace. Pepper Choplin is a full-time composer, conductor and humorist who writes in varied styles including folk, Gospel, classical and jazz.

  • Jay Althouse

    Jay Althouse
    b. 1951

    Look-A That Star – Jay Althouse

    This dynamic new a cappella Christmas spiritual about the star shining bright is a stellar example of the quality of Jay Althouse compositions and a perfect showcase for our tenor and bass voices. With wide experience in the world of music education as well as music publishing, he has more than 700 choral works in print. He and his wife have cowritten children's musicals and he is also the author of bestselling books on various musical topics.

  • Lisa Loeb

    Lisa Loeb
    b. 1968

    Cliff Goldmacher

    Cliff Goldmacher
    b. 1968

    Andy Beck

    Andy Beck
    b. 1961

    Light – Lisa Loeb and Cliff Goldmacher; arr. Andy Beck

    Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb is a multitalented musician who is a Grammy Award winner, actress, writer of books and music for children, and philanthropist who somehow also finds time to design her own line of eyeglasses. Her co-writer, Cliff Goldmacher, is a music educator and composer who has collaborated with many award-winning artists in genres ranging from Americana, blues, country, pop and jazz to classical. Their unusual Hanukkah song is a folk influenced reflection on the Miracle of Light and tells a "story of hope in the darkness". The arranger, Andy Beck, is director of Choral Publications at Alfred Music and has composed and arranged over 450 popular choral works.

  • Linda Spevacek

    Linda Spevacek
    b. 1945

    A Garland of Carols – arr. Linda Spevacek

    Arranger, composer, music educator and author Linda Spevacek has created a wonderful celebratory medley of twelve traditional favorites of the season, starting with Advent and ending with the New Year. Her international selection includes I Saw Three Ships (English), Fum, Fum, Fum (Spanish), The March of the Kings, (La Marche des Rois, Provençal), The Coventry Carol (English), Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella (French), Christ Was Born on Christmas Day (Old Medieval Melody), Patapan (Burgundian), Mary Had a Baby (American Spiritual), Go, Tell It on the Mountain (American Spiritual), Ding! Dong! Merrily on High (French), The Holly and the Ivy (English) and Wassail Song (English).

  • Alan Billingsley

    Alan Billingsley
    b. 1950

    Holiday Film Festival – arr. Alan Billingsley

    Arranger, composer, orchestrator and producer of all styles of music, Alan Billingsley is also known for his work as music director and pianist for the NBC daytime series "Days of Our Lives" and his longtime working relationship with The Walt Disney Company. Three memorable songs from a trio of popular holiday movies, Spirit of the Season by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri, from "The Polar Express", Welcome Christmas with music by Albert Hague and words by Dr. Seuss, from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas with words by Leslie Bricusse and music by John Williams, from "Home Alone 2", are strung together in a spectacular choral medley.

  • Pinkzebra

    Pinkzebra

    Winter With You – Pinkzebra

    The true identity of this mysterious composer is unknown because this is the pseudonym of a "successful music producer and composer" who has "had his music performed by major symphony orchestras". A note from the composer to the performers of his music tells us that "There is something magical about the fact that… you are bringing this music to life in a way that can connect and inspire people". His peaceful, lovely song expresses the simple joy of sharing Winter with someone you love.

  • Colosseum at Christmas

    A MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY

    Four eclectic works from diverse cultural traditions

    • Ruth Elain Schram

      Ruth Elain Schram
      b. 1956

      Ale Pun (Spain) – arr. Ruth Elain Schram

      A full-time composer and arranger, Ruth Elaine Schram began lessons in music theory and piano at age 5 and wrote her first song at 12. She now has over 2,000 published works and her songs have appeared on the HBO series The Sopranos, while her religious music is popular with many church choirs. A Spanish traditional carol with new words in English, Ale Pun describes the trip to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph and the donkey. Ale pun and cata pun are nonsense words in Spanish that may refer to the sound of the hooves of the donkey as they walk along, but no one really seems to know their origin or true meaning. Some Spanish recordings use Ale pun, cata pun as the title of the song.

    • Petit Enfant (France) – Linda Miller Shaw and Dana Thompson

      This hauntingly beautiful French carol, written by Linda Miller Shaw and inspired by a short melody written by music student Dana Thompson when she was only 11, is a wonderful choice for the Chorale's soprano and alto voices.

    • Frederick H. Martens

      Frederick H. Martens
      1874 - 1921

      Pietro A. Yon

      Pietro A. Yon
      1886 - 1943

      Gesú Bambino (Italy) – Pietro A. Yon; words by Frederick H. Martens

      Beginning his musical studies in his native Italy at age 6, Pietro Yon's talent as an organist was so obvious that he was assistant organist at St. Peters in the Vatican by the time he was 19. A visiting priest from Manhattan was so impressed he chose Yon as the organist of St. Francis Xavier Church when he was only 21. He started a music school at Carnegie Hall with his organist brother and eventually became the organist at St. Patrick's Cathedral. As a composer he wrote many works for piano, organ and orchestra, including this Italian Christmas classic, Gesú Bambino, written in 1917. The chorus is derived from the chorus of Adeste Fideles or O Come All Ye Faithful, and his creation has survived to become a standard in Italian Christmas music, recorded by Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and many others. The melody was used by Frederick Martens in his English language carol When Blossoms Flowered Amidst the Snow.

    • Tina Heidrich

      Tina Heidrich
      b. 1954

      Saint Basil

      Saint Basil
      329 - 379

      Greek New Year's Carol (Greece) – arr. Tina Heidrich

      This spirited Greek carol celebrates St. Basil the Great, who is the Santa Claus of the Greek people. His name day or feast day is January 1 and children in Greece typically receive their Christmas presents on this day. Our own Tina Johns Heidrich recalls her childhood, often singing this song with family and friends, and it is with great joy and good memories that she arranged this version for us to sing.

  • Felix Bernard

    Felix Bernard
    1897 - 1944

    Dick Smith

    Dick Smith
    1901 - 1935

    Greg Jasperse

    Greg Jasperse
    b. 1968

    Winter Wonderland – Felix Bernard; words by Dick Smith; arr. Greg Jasperse

    Dick Smith, a lyricist who had never had a big hit, was inspired by a snowfall in Pennsylvania, where he was being treated for tuberculosis, to write a romantic Winter poem. He sent the poem to his friend Felix Bernard, a pianist and composer, who set music to Winter Wonderland, and the rest is history. Bandleader Richard Himber recorded the song with a group of New York musicians that included young clarinetist Artie Shaw. Guy Lombardo heard that recording and rushed to put out his own version before Christmas. It was an immediate hit! Over the years it has been recorded by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and many others. The original lyrics were about a romance in the winter, but a later version printed in 1947 included a new children's lyric, transforming it into a seasonal song about playing in the snow. Johnny Mathis and others after him connected both versions of the song and sang them together. Composer, arranger and pianist Greg Jasperse is the Director of Vocal Jazz at Western Michigan University and their award-winning vocal jazz ensemble. His jazz influenced version of this classic makes for a very special nostalgic trip down memory lane.

  • Joseph Garland

    Joseph Garland
    1903 - 1977

    Brian Setzer

    Brian Setzer
    b. 1959

    Michael Himelstein

    Michael Himelstein

    Mac Huff

    Mac Huff
    b. 1955

    Gettin' in the Mood for Christmas – Joseph Garland; words by Brian Setzer and Michael Himelstein; arr. Mac Huff

    The great Glenn Miller's iconic big-band classic In the Mood was composed by Joe Garland, a jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger who also wrote hits for Artie Shaw and Les Brown. He also had a long career playing with many of the great bands, including Louis Armstrong. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Brian Setzer is the leader of the 17-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra (BSO), a swing and jump band formed in 1990. Setzer and songwriter Michael Himelstein wrote the clever new holiday lyrics that reflect the period. With an arrangement by Mac Huff, it was recorded by the BSO for their 2005 album Dig That Crazy Christmas.

  • Tim Greene

    Tim Greene
    b. 1964

    Mike Speck

    Mike Speck
    b. 1954

    Cliff Duren

    Cliff Duren
    b. 1982

    Christ Is Born – Tim Greene, arr. Mike Speck and Cliff Duren

    Tim Greene is the eldest brother and member of the famous family singers The Greenes, an American Southern gospel trio from Boone, North Carolina. He has also composed music for them, including this great Christmas hit, which is from their 2006 album Christ Is Born. Rev. Greene selected portions of Angels from the Realms of Glory, O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and interspersed them 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!