Holiday Prelude Concert
Featuring A Calypso Christmas
Fall 2023 Concert Notes
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass and Steel
Sunday November 19, 2023 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut
- Concert Photos -
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
Break Forth with Joy – arr. Larry Shackley
A prolific composer, professor, musician, editor and arranger, Larry Shackley has deftly woven three beloved carols into a festive tapestry of celebration for our dynamic concert opener. Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light is one of almost 700 hymns written by German pastor Johann Rist (1607-1667). The music was composed by Johann Schop (1595-1665) in 1641, the same year as the text. The English translation is by John Troutbeck (1832-1899). He Is Born is a traditional French carol, with a text that was first published in a collection of ancient carols in 1875. The melody was published in 1862 in an earlier Christmas songbook. Once In Royal David's City was written by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), who began writing poetry as a schoolgirl in Ireland and wrote more than 400 hymn texts, mostly intended for children. This poem was published in her Hymns for Little Children, in 1848, and was set to music the very next year by the English organist Henry Gauntlett (1805-1876).
Christmas Jubilate – arr. John Purifoy; words by Roger Thornhill
This joyous anthem is set to the hymn tune VESPER HYMN, written in 1818 by John A. Stevenson (1761-1833). The organist at Christ Church and St. Patrick's in Dublin, Ireland, he was better known for his operas and a collection of Irish songs than for his religious compositions. Composer, lyricist and arranger John Purifoy has created a majestic hymn of Christmas rejoicing.
Marques L. A. Garrett
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Ring Out, Ye Bells! – Marques L. A. Garrett; Samuel Carlton and Dan Forrest; words by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The son of formerly enslaved parents from Kentucky, Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Ohio. Publishing his first poems at the age of sixteen, he was the first African-American poet to earn national acceptance. The New York Times referred to him as "a true singer of the people - white or black". A talented trio of composers adapted his poem, Christmas Carol, to create this exhilarating work dedicated to Dr. André Thomas. Our regular concertgoers may remember Dr. Thomas as the composer and arranger of spirituals from our I'm Gonna Sing! program in March 2023.
In the Bleak Midwinter – Gustav Holst; words by Christina Rosetti; arr. Dan Forrest
Christina Rosetti, one of the finest poets of the Victorian age, was the youngest child in an extraordinarily gifted family and the author of numerous books of poetry. Although she was English, In the Bleak Midwinter was first published in the January 1872 issue of Scribner's Monthly, an American illustrated monthly magazine, with the title A Christmas Carol. It was later included in her book, Goblin Market in 1875. The composer Gustav Holst, of The Planets fame, composed this setting of her poem in 1906, and named the hymn tune CRANHAM, after Cranham, Gloucestershire. Dr. Forrest's ethereal, tender and deeply moving arrangement is evolved from his vision of Christina Rosetti writing her Christmas poem in London. The bells give a subtle hint of Big Ben in the distance. For many years, he has been one of the Chorale's favorite composers and his works will be featured in our next concert in March 2024.
What Child Is This? – Laura Farnel
Choral composer Laura Farnell's wonderful medley featuring her original settings for What Child Is This? by W. Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) and Gloria In Excelsis Deo, blended with the beloved traditional version of Silent Night, by Franz Gruber (1787-1863) and Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), is filled with the peace and reverence of that holy night in Bethlehem.
Maringa Krismes – arr. Kitty Fadlu-Deen
Dr. Kitty Fadlu-Deen is a music educator, originally from Singapore, with degrees from University College Dublin and The University of York. Married to a medical doctor from Sierra Leone, she has taught music there from nursery school to college level, and has a deep interest in the indigenous music of her adopted homeland. This Christmas song reflects her desire to promote and protect that music. Krio is the most widely spoken language in the country, which was founded as a colony for returning enslaved Africans after the abolition of slavery in England. The Maringa is strongly related to the music of the West Indies and was introduced to Sierra Leone in the 1950s by Ebenezer Calendar, one of the foremost musicians of the era, the son of a West Indian immigrant. The melody of Maringa Krismes is from a song composed by Calendar, and the text is a combination of words by Dr. Fadlu-Deen and a traditional song sung at Christmas.
Hanukkah Hayom! – arr. Michael Larkin
A prolific composer and arranger of both sacred and secular music, Dr. Larkin has arranged this traditional Hanukkah song with words in English. It celebrates enchanting candles glowing like stars in the night and the joy of all who see them because Hannukah is today!
Fantasy on Five Christmas Carols – arr. Mark Hayes
Internationally known composer, conductor and concert pianist Mark Hayes believes that his mission in life is "to create beautiful music for the world", and this fantasy brings us five very different carols joined together by his insight and desire to create that beautiful music. Personent Hodie is from the 1582 songbook Piae Cantiones, a volume of Medieval songs in Latin, using an English translation from The Oxford Book of Carols. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day is a traditional English Carol first published in 1833 by William B. Sandys in his Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, but is believed to be much older, probably from the 16th century. I Saw Three Ships was first published in the 17th century, but also was found in Mr. Sandys' Christmas Carol book with the lyrics that are used by Mr. Hayes. Some believe that the three ships are "ships of the desert" and represent the three Magi on their camels, since there is no water in Bethlehem for ships to sail in. Still, Still, Still is an Austrian carol from Salzburg. It first appeared in a folksong collection in 1865, and the English translation is from the Oxford Book of Carols. Sussex Carol was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams who heard it sung by Harriet Verrall, from Monk's Gate, near Sussex. He published it in 1919 as the Sussex Carol.
The Holiday Season – Kay Thompson; arr. Mark Hayes
Kay Thompson was an American author, singer, vocal arranger composer, musician, dancer, actress and choreographer. Beginning her career as a singer and choral director for radio, she went to work in Hollywood as a vocal coach and eventually morphed into an actress. Her best-known acting role was the fashion editor in the 1958 movie Funny Face. She created the nightclub act "Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers", which made its debut in Las Vegas and quickly became the highest paid nightclub act in the world. Living at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, she made herself another career as the author of the Eloise series of books about a little girl who lives at the Plaza. The Holiday Season was first written and performed by Kay Thompson in 1945.
A CALYPSO CHRISTMAS
Three selections, including an original from our conductor, with the return of the ever-popular steel drums!
A Calypso Puer Natus – Tina Heidrich
Puer Natus in Bethlehem was published in 1582 in Paie Cantiones, but in reality, it must be much older. The Latin text was discovered in a Benedictine book from the beginning of the 14th century, and became popular in Germany after it was translated into German in 1439. Since that time, it has been translated into many languages and given different musical settings by composers such as Praetorius, Bach and many others. Our gifted conductor has chosen to breathe new life into it with an exciting setting in the Caribbean style of calypso music.
Calypso Carol – Michael Perry; arr. Allen Pote
Although Calypso Carol is often described as a traditional folk carol from the West Indies, it was actually composed in 1964 by Michael Perry, a student at Oak Hill Theological Seminary in England, for a college carol concert. It was played on a local radio program, then published in the 1969 songbook Youth Praise, and soon became popular in the Caribbean and around the world. In 1983, the Caribbean Island of Nevis featured the chorus of Calypso Carol on a sheet of Christmas stamps. Mr. Perry became one of the leading contemporary hymn writers in the UK, but Calypso Carol remained his most popular work. Arranger Allen Pote is nationally known as a composer of sacred music and has created a choral arrangement filled with the spirit of calypso.
Santo (from A Caribbean Mass) – Glenn McClure
Composer and scholar Glenn McClure has dedicated himself to building artistic and academic collaborations between students, scientists and classical and indigenous musicians. He believes that, just as St. Francis said his cathedral was the whole world, the Saint's simple wisdom should not be limited to one language or musical tradition. Santo is one movement from his A Caribbean Mass: St. Francis in the Americas, an extraordinary work setting the writings of St. Francis of Assisi into the languages and musical styles of the New World. The Chorale performed the entire Mass in 2007 and is delighted to sing Santo again as a part of our Calypso program.
Walking in the Air – Howard Blake; arr. John Leavitt
Raymond Briggs' wordless 1978 picture book about a snowman who comes to life was made into an animated film for British television in 1982. The celebrated film is also wordless, except for Walking in the Air, and the story is told entirely through visuals and music scored by English composer, conductor and pianist Howard Blake. American composer and conductor John Leavitt has created an enchanting choral arrangement that evokes the magic of the film.
Vicki Tucker Courtney
Artist of a Winter Night – Vicki Tucker Courtney; words by Herb Frombach
Pianist and Composer Vicki Courtney had a successful life in the corporate world, but was lured back to her musical roots and is now experiencing great success in this new career. Her charming setting enhances lyricist and composer Herb Frombach's original poem, envisioning winter frost as an artist who decorates the world while it sleeps and disappears with the sunrise.
I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – Irving Berlin; arr. Greg Jasperse
The legendary composer Irving Berlin, originally Israel Baline, was born in the area of Imperial Russia that is now Belarus. The family immigrated to New York City in 1893, and his father, a Cantor, died when he was eight years old. With only two years of formal education, he found work as a street singer and then a singing waiter in the Lower East Side. In 1907, his first song was published and a printer's error gave him the name Irving Berlin. In 1911 he wrote Alexander's Ragtime Band, which became a major hit, and his popularity grew as he moved on to write Broadway musicals, scores for films and the patriotic God Bless America, becoming perhaps the greatest and most enduring of all American songwriters. Composer and arranger Greg Jasperse is Director of Vocal Jazz at Western Michigan University and has given an imaginative new jazz interpretation to Irving Berlin's romantic winter classic.
Jack Feldman Alan Menken
b. 1940 b. 1949
My Christmas Tree – Alan Menken; words by Jack Feldman
This moving and sensitive piece from the Twentieth Century Fox motion picture Home Alone 2 expresses the true meaning of Christmas through its description of the Christmas tree and its importance as a symbol bringing everyone together. Their collaboration on the Broadway musical Newsies won a Tony Award. The tender and expressive choral arrangement is by Mark Hayes.
Talkin' 'Bout Jesus – Rebecca Peck; arr. Tom Fettke and Thomas Grassi
Rebecca Peck is one of the foremost writers of evangelical church music and has also written a number one and top forty hits in the popular music field. Her original text incorporates a portion of Who Is This in Yonder Stall? by Benjamin Russell Hanby (1833-1867), the composer of Up on the House Top and Jolly Old St. Nicholas. The rousing arrangement is by Rebecca Peck along with Tom Fettke and Thomas Grassi, delivering the good news of the Christmas story and the baby Jesus with the high level of excitement and joy that is found only in great Southern Gospel music.