Silver Celebration • PROGRAM NOTES

Gloria I                John Rutter

XII Vibrant Voices, Brilliant Brass April 9, 2005
XI Fanfares and Flourishes November 22, 2003 $15/12
VI The Great Choruses March 27, 1999 $11/9

Translation:
Rutter writes: “I was approached out of the blue by a concert choir in the American midwest called the Voices of Mel Olson (Omaha, Nebraska), who wanted me to compose an accessible but challenging choral work of about twenty minutes’ duration. Their conductor laid down the guidelines: a familiar text, preferably sacred; instrumental accompaniment, but less than an orchestra; no professional soloists; and a positive, ‘upfront’ quality so that a non-specialist audience could enjoy the music at first hearing.

All this steered my thoughts towards the text of the Gloria, which begins with the words of the angels to the shepherds on Christmas Night. Asking myself what instruments the angels would have played as heralds of the glad tidings, the answer was obviously trumpets, and that chimed in with what I knew to be a fine tradition of brass playing in the midwest, where marching bands are an established part of school and college life. I decided to supplement a brass ensemble accompaniment with timpani, percussion and organ, and I set to work. The music was written quickly in the spring of 1974, and in looking back at it now I find a mixture of influences: Walton (who knew a thing or two about brass bands, and festive and ceremonial writing), Stravinsky, Poulenc, and, running like a thread through the whole work, Gregorian chant.”

The first movement is neatly constructed from only a few musical ideas: chords built on rising fourths (as at the beginning), a few short rhythmic motifs and the ‘plainsong’ choral melodies.

 

Fogarty’s Cove                Stan Rogers, arr Ron Smail

XXIV Love In a Canoe: Canada at 150 April 1, 2017 Almost

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, but with deep roots in the Maritimes, Stan Rogers was Canada’s finest folksong writer. His songs gave a voice to ordinary folks who worked the fisheries, mines and farms of this vast country. It’s been said that Rogers’ music was something like if Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen got together and wrote folk songs. When Stan Rogers died in 1983 at age 33 in an airplane accident, a piece of Canada died with him. His unique portraits of the Maritimes grabbed you by the heart and pulled you in. Fogarty’s Cove refers to an area on the Nova Scotia coast.

 

Deep River                Brian Ratcliffe   (Gill solo)

XXIII London Composers Exposed! April 2, 2016

Pianist Brian Ratcliffe composes and arranges on an “as needed” basis, primarily for the annual benefit concert for Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan (CASS), for which he arranges and composes for several high school choirs as well as soloists Denise Pelley and Saidat. When he’s not arranging, Brian is the London Food Bank manager and, with his wife, teacher and percussionist Karen Pincombe, operates and teaches at Arts For All Kids, which provides free fine arts lessons for children of low-income families. http://www.artsforallkids.net

 

Battle of Jericho                Moses Hogan

XXII Sing Joy: the Power of Song May 30, 2015
XIX City Symposium March 20, 2012
XIX Road to Freedom January 28, 2012 Chatham Capitol Theatre
XIX Lions and Tigers and Kids! October 16/23, 2011
XIX Culture Days Oct 1, 2011 Museum London
XVIII Festival 500 July 6-13, 2011
XVIII Going to the Rock! April 9, 2011
XVIII Cabaret II February 12, 2011
XVI Road to Freedom February 7, 2009
XVI Wizards, Wonders and Wild Things October 19, 2008
XIII Road To Freedom (Chatham) February 4, 2006
XIII Joy and Hope February 1, 2006 King’s College
XII Road to Freedom February 26, 2005
XI Fanfares and Flourishes November 22, 2003
X 10th Anniversary Gala May 24, 2002
VII 1000 Years of Singing March, 2000
VII Swing Low, Sweet Chariot November 20, 1999

Moses Hogan wrote about 70 settings of spirituals. His life mission was to revitalize the true African-American spirit of the genre. Hogan was an Oberlin and Julliard trained pianist. Yet, along with André Thomas, he wanted to bring the plantation song back from cheerful parlour tunefulness to the essence of its origins. In this spiritual of hope, our survival requires community effort to bring “the walls…tumblin’ down”.

 

Dirait-on                Morten Lauridsen

Translation: “So they say”
The words in French are from a collection of poems about roses by Rilke,written in the early 1900’s. Rilke often wrote about roses.

In this poem, Rilke is describing a rose. Rilke sees a rose and its petals as “wildness surrounding wildness,” (“abandon”) and yet “tenderness touching tenderness.” He marvels that the wild and delicate rose petals are caressing the core, the center, of the rose.

This is the transcript of a video by Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943) describing his compositional process for ‘Dirait-on’, if that interests you:

Well, I think it’d be helpful to demonstrate on how ‘Dirait-on’ was put together, because it’s become such a well-known piece. I always designed it as a piece that had never been composed, it had always been there. I designed this piece in the style of a French folk song. And for that I wanted to use a chord that was very French, and so I went to the music of Ravel and Debussy for a single sonority from which to gather my materials for a melody, and for the harmony, and for the overall piece. This is a chord that’s very much a favourite of theirs. I chose Ravel and Debussy because we’re talking about early 20th century French music and this is when this French poem was written, in 1924.

This particular chord, which is simply a major tried with an added second, went on to provide all the material I needed for the composition of ‘Dirait-on’. I decided that the piece would be accompanied by something that would sound like a guitar. And so I took that chord and made it into a kind of passage for guitar, and then I went ahead and derived the melody from those four notes from this chord. The melody has to be simple. Because one of the characteristics of any folk song is its simplicity. It must be easily sung. It must be able to pass down from generation to generation vocally and be catchy as well.

Now I repeat it but make it fresh with a new harmony, and change that last note around a little bit. And then I took the idea of ‘Dirait-on’, ‘so they say’, as a little repeated refrain. And I do it again, except to make it more interesting I offset it by one beat. That’s my song. It is easily memorable. It’s got two parts. And through the composition process each one of those two parts is treated in canon and imitation with itself. Later on, while that’s going on, a tenor will be singing a counter melody, a separate melody but made out of that same material. The melody, the harmony, all come from this chord. Then it’s treated with what I hope is sort of elegant understatement, and yet it retains its simplicity and charm as a simple little song.

I get emails from people saying, “I love this song, how do I get it out of my mind?”. And I write them back and say, “There’s no cure. It was designed to go into your mind and never leave.” But this is where you, the composer, focus on your idea: “I want to write a folk song. What are the elements of a folk song? How do I tie the poem into history? How do I give it the flavor of the nationality, of the language it’s in?”. And there you go. Now imagine: a piece, such as in my midwinter songs, having four chords. It’s a gold mine for composers. Every one of those chords will be explored, all the facets of that particular passage will be explored compositionally. And this is through learning and technique and an understanding of history and of craft.

 

Super Trouper                ABBA

XXIII Dancing Queen: the Music of ABBA May 28 & 29, 2016

Super Trouper was a hit single for ABBA. The name “Super Trouper” referred a particular large spotlight used in stadium concerts.

 

Wondrous Love                Paul Halley

XII Vibrant Voices, Brilliant Brass April 9, 2005
XI Fanfares and Flourishes November 22, 2003
V Love Songs for Springtime March 28, 1998

Wondrous Love was a “very popular old Southern tune” based on an English folksong from the 1600s. Composer Paul Halley (b. 1952), who wrote a major portion of Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He combines Wondrous Love with brass, organ and timpani in a thrilling arrangement.

– Intermission –

 

O Clap Your Hands                Ralph Vaughan Williams

XII Vibrant Voices, Brilliant Brass April 9, 2005

Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote this anthem, an exuberant setting of Psalm 47, in 1920, between the world wars. After serving as a medical corps wagon orderly in WWI, Vaughan Williams organized uplifting musical programs, including this anthem, for BBC broadcasts. The opening fanfare is a call to worship, immediately suggesting the Hebrew shofar (ram’s horn), calling the children of Israel to assemble for the word of God at Mt. Sinai. After the jubilant opening the music becomes suddenly introspective with a solemn, chant-like reading of the line, “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises, everyone that hath understanding,” an expression of humility before the Almighty Presence, followed by a second eruption of joy, with a jubilant return of the opening pageantry: “God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.” Truly, a “joyful noise”!

 

Stars                Ēriks Ešenvalds

The poem, Stars, by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sara Teasdale, conveys in simple, vivid terms the wonder and reverence elicited by being outdoors witnessing the infinite majesty of the heavens. Teasdale loved to look up at the night sky and see the stars, whether she was in New York, California, Arizona, or abroad. The light and the sparkling inspired her. Celebrated Latvian composer, Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977), also acknowledges their magic and mystery and uses tuned wine glasses to evoke the atmosphere of the heavens. Describing his choral style as “vertical,” he concentrates primarily on harmonies rather than melody. His gorgeous setting of Teasdale’s poem was written in 2012.

Alone at night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head,
White and topaz
And misty red;
Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
That aeons
Cannot vex or tire;
Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,
And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness
Of so much majesty.

 

Cantate Domino                Hans Leo Hässler

XVIII Festival 500 July 6-13, 2011
XVIII Going to the Rock! April 9, 2011
XVI The Proms November 22, 2008
XV In Courts of Kings March 29, 2008

“Cantate Domino”, by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), is a motet on Psalm 96:1-3: Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth and bless his name. Proclaim his promise of salvation from day to day. Proclaim his glory to all nations and his mighty acts to all peoples. Hässler was an outstanding composer and is considered to be one of the most important German composers of all time. He brilliantly married the innovative Italian techniques with the traditional, conservative German style, allowing his compositions to sound fresh even to this day.

 

The Long and Winding Road                L&M, arr Mac Huff

XXIV Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Band June 3 & 4, 2017

KSS has featured the classic songs of the Beatles in three concerts, starting in 2007. In this one, the “long and winding road” was claimed to have been inspired by a thirty-one mile (50 km) winding stretch along the east coast of Scotland. Written when the Beatles were beginning to break up, Paul McCartney says, “I was a bit flipped out at that time. It’s a sad song because it’s all about the unattainable; the door you never quite reach. This is the road that you never get to the end of.”

 

Master of the House (Les Mis)                Schönberg, arr Mac Huff

The London production of Les Miserables has run continuously since October 1985: the second longest-running musical in the world after The Fantasticks, the second longest-running West End show after The Mousetrap and the longest-running musical in the West End (followed by The Phantom of the Opera). In 2010, it played its ten-thousandth performance in London. The show won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

This is a sneak peek at the music of next season! Tickets on sale tonight!

 

Song of the Children                Kevin White, arr Brian Ratcliffe

Hailing from New Brunswick, Kevin White has always written songs. No matter what else he was doing as a career—medicine, university teaching, medical writing or writing children’s books—he has been writing about 20 new songs every year since he was 12, and they all tell a story or promote a worthy cause. His music has often been compared to that of Gordon Lightfoot and the late great Harry Chapin, who was Kevin’s big inspiration as a social activist who wrote songs. This song is dedicated to Karen and her work with children’s choirs. http://www.kpwhitemusic.com

 

Gloria III                John Rutter

Translation –
This third movement of our opening work shares a lot of material with the first. It is in three sections: the first uses the ‘plainsong’ melody to the words quoniam…, the second is a fugue on Cum sancto spiritu… and the third is an extended Amen which includes a reference to the opening of the work. After that, we defy you not to leave the concert happier than you came in. Truly, a glorious crown to 25 years of music-making!