Thursday, December 18, 2014

We need a little Christmas

In my house growing up, Christmas was and is a big deal. Beginning the morning after Thanksgiving my dad would go by a tree (sometimes my brother and I tagged along). My mother would start undecorating the fall decorations and begin the process of putting up the Christmas decorations. This was an all day project (and still is). That evening my siblings (and later siblings in-law) would gather and we decorate the tree while watching Lucille Ball in the musical movie adaption of MAME.

This is kind of an epic musical with great music and not great, but fun singing. Bea Arthur and Lucille Ball have a great duet called "Bosom Buddies."

Of course the reason this movie became a family tradition is the song "We Need a Little Christmas."

If you need a break from the crazy of the Holiday season give yourself 2.5 hours and watch this great classic, Have a great holiday season!

Monday, November 24, 2014

John Rutter's Gloria

John Rutter's Gloria will be a featured selection at the Lincoln Choral Artists' "With One Step...Peace" Holiday Concert on December 21, 3pm at O'Donnell Auditorium.
Concert Info

This is a popular and well know work for Choir, Brass, Organ, and Percussion. 

LCA will be programing the selection throughout the concert. Each movement (I. Gloria, II. Domine Deus, II. Cum Sancto Spiritu) will conclude a section of the concert. 

Below is some more great information on Rutter's Gloria which was originally premiered here in Nebraska over 40 years ago. It's exuberant energy and joyous pop influenced rhythms and harmonies are a celebration of the holiday season and our desire to share the peace of the season with the Lincoln Community.

In 1974, John Rutter visited the United States at the invitation of choral musician Melvin (Mel) Olson and conducted the premiere of his cantata "Gloria" in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Witherspoon Hall of Joslyn Art Museum. The composition, commissioned by Olson's Voices of Mel Olson chorale, has become a much-performed favorite over the years.

"Gloria in excelsis Deo
(Latin for "Glory to God in the highest") is a hymn known also as the Greater Doxology and the Angelic Hymn.
The name is often abbreviated to Gloria in Excelsis or simply Gloria.
The hymn begins with the words that the angels sang when the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds in Luke 2:14. Other verses were added very early, forming the doxology. 
Rutter's music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment in addition to the standard piano/organ accompaniment, using various different instrumentations such as strings only, strings and woodwinds or full orchestra with brass and percussion.
Despite composing and conducting much religious music, Rutter told 60 Minutes in 2003 that he was not a particularly religious man yet still deeply spiritual and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers. The main topics considered in the 60 Minutes program, which was broadcast a week before Christmas 2003, were Rutter's popularity with choral groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world and his composition Mass of the Children, written after the sudden death of his son Christopher while a student at Clare College, Cambridge, where Rutter himself had studied.
In a 2009 interviewRutter discussed his understanding of 'genius' and its unique ability to transform lives – whether that genius is communicated in the form of music or other media. He likened the purity of music to that of mathematics and connected the two with a reference to the discovery made by the early Greeks that frequencies of harmonic pitches are related by whole-number ratios.

Below is the text and it's translation as it will be performed:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
Deus Pater omnípotens.
Dómine Fili Unigénite, Iesu Christe,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus, tu solus Altíssimus,
Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

C. Richard Morris- Our Wonderful Accompanist

Everybody in Lincoln knows Dick Morris it seems. 
He is wonderful man, musician, and husband.
I have enjoyed so thoroughly working with him for the past couple of months. 
He is on my mind tonight so I thought I would give you a little of his history.

C. Richard Morris, Organist, Accompanist

C. Richard Morris, Organist
C. Richard (Dick) Morris, a native of Philadelphia, was a full-time church musician for more than 50 years and served a number of large churches throughout the United States. Between 1959 and 1972 he completed his B.M. Ed and M.M. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and served as Music Director at the Wesley Foundation on the UN-L campus, Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal and First-Plymouth Congregational Church. In 1972 he began his work serving churches elsewhere. After retiring in 2006, he and his wife, Nancy, decided to return to her hometown, Lincoln. Dick has been an active member of the American Guild of Organists and Lincoln Organ Showcase. He is a substitute organist and choir director, has served on a number of boards in the community, has appeared frequently with Lincoln Choral Artists, and until recently was a staff accompanist at Nebraska Wesleyan University. For the past several years Dick has become a familiar face at Saint Paul as both a substitute organist and as a solo performer at two First Friday concerts. Dick and Nancy have one son, Rick, who lives with his wife, Melissa, in Seattle, Washington.
If you ever need someone to lift your spirit, Dick is the man. He loves Lincoln and beyond his own activities in music he supports the arts in Lincoln. Let's celebrate the joy he creates and gives away!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We Gather Concert Music Selections

A Success! That's what I have to say about the concert on Sunday afternoon. I am so proud of the work the Lincoln Choral Artists did to make a great concert. This was an experience, an event, something very special. I have a attached a few choice excerpts to this link for you to enjoy again or if you didn't make to this concert as a teaser for the upcoming concert "With One Step...Peace," or Holiday celebration of music and peace.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Though we are not like Michael Jackson, if you remember the build up and excitement around what was supposed to be the greatest concert of pop music history, this was an event.
We will be sharing and event too! Singers, dancers, pianos, organs (ok one organ), Food (in the form of donations, I know some of you were thinking CAKE!) THIS IS IT!

So what is this "this" I am talking about?
Choral Music
A totally unique form of communicating in the voice of a people our "hopes and fears for all the years," our joy and spirit, our love of the art....

focus is on making the best music inviting, enjoyable, and an experience. 

Are you going to come and experience a Choral Concert? Part of the audience's job is to come with an open mind and heart. We are also asking you to come with open hands. Bring some food for the 
THIS IS IT! This is going to be an event! This is going to be an experience! 
"Come and Taste and See" our first concert of the season:

With One Step...We Gather
October 26, 2014 | 3:00 pm - O'Donnell Auditorium, Nebraska Wesleyan University
Rogers Center for Fine Arts

Monday, October 13, 2014

LCA Past and Future

I am very excited! The opening concert of the 
is just around the corner. The energy and joy of singing is happening every week in rehearsal. We are so thankful to First United Methodist Church and First Plymouth Church offering their facilities to us for rehearsal. And we are so grateful for the continued support of Nebraska Wesleyan University for the use of their space for rehearsals and performance. 

For those who may not know here is a little of the history of Lincoln Choral Artists:
Lincoln Civic Choir was founded in 1979 at Union College, as a part of the Lincoln Civic Experience.

Dr. William Wyman took over the 60-voice, auditioned community choir in 1990.

Under Wyman’s direction, the choir left the umbrella of the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and formed its own nonprofit designation. Its membership grew and moved into residency at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
During his run, the choir performed three or more concerts a year and collaborated with such groups as Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, TADA, Omaha Symphony and the Military Band of the Heartland. Its holiday concert has become a popular Lincoln pastime, with the choir often featuring youth ensembles at it -- another source of pride to Wyman.

In 1992, the Lincoln Civic Choir, presented the area premiere of Ron Nelson's "Te Deum Laudamus" with the Military Band of the Heartland along with one of the first performances of Omaha composer Randall Stroope's "Hodie" with the Plymouth Brass. In the spring of 1995, the choir appeared in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City along with the NWU Choir, the choirs of the four Lincoln public high schools and New York's Westside Orchestra. We also performed the piece in Lincoln with the Lincoln Symphony. In May, 1997, the choir performed with the Military Band of the Heartland in a concert featuring the music of Howard Hansen.
LCC regularly joined the Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir and Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra in concerts at the Lied Center and other performance venues. Recent performances of this type have included Rachmaninoff's "Vespers," Orff's "Carmina Burana" and Mozart's "Grand Mass in C Minor." In March, 2006, the choir made its first guest appearance with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.
I am so proud to have opportunity to build on this history in our upcoming concert. We will really stretch the listener's ear with music from around the world that reminds us of the joy of coming together in music and fellowship.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Communal Song: Shape-note singing and Americana, Traditions in the US

So I have obviously made all of you very curious to read this blog with such an ostentatious title (heavy sarcasm!) Congrats if you are still reading. I am always leery about using the colon in my title. It can seem pretentious and obnoxious

Today I am mostly concerned about why we sing. Last we I talked about the importance of the communal act of singing. Today I want to talk a little about the history of why we have choirs, particularly in the US, and why the traditions still have a place in society.

Robert Morgan says that 2 main factors created the choral tradition in America: a scarcity of instruments in the colonial years and the heavy role of religious life, especially in Puritan traditions.
Puritans actual forbade instruments in worship. So community singing, choirs, became a natural form of musical expression in worship. It wasn't anything new. Most of western music history traces it's way through the Christian church with  the largest portion of music based in choral writing and congregational singing. 
 A major difference in the American tradition is that for the first part of our history, colonial days to the early 19th century, the music was actually divorced from and developed independently from the European Schools. No where is this more evident than in the music of Shape-Note singing, 

On the fall LCA concert "We Gather" we are singing a song based in that tradition, Big Sky. Though the text and tune are newly composed, the essence and stylistic intent of the composer clearly reflects the Shape-Note style. Here is an example of a traditional shape note score and a video of a performance.
The basic tonal color, as you can hear, is very bright and forward. There is basically one volume, LOUD! The director changes with each song sung. The choir, or really communal gathering, of Shape-note conference singers, sit in a square with each section, SATB, facing the center. This is Holy music, and the tradition lives on to this day with Sacred Harp conferences all over the country.

Another selection from the fall concert includes: "How Can I Keep From Singing?" (also known by its first line of text "My Life Flows On in Endless Song"), a Christian hymn with music written by American Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry. The song is frequently, though erroneously, cited as a traditional Quaker hymn. 

Pete Seeger learned a version of this song from Doris Plenn, a family friend, who learned it from her North Carolina family. His version made this song fairly well known in the folk revival of the 1960s. Seeger's version omits or modifies much of the Christian wording of the original. A reference in the added verse intended by Seeger and by Plenn—both active in left-wing causes—is to 'witch hunts' of the House Un-American Activities Committee (Seeger himself was sentenced to a year in jail in 1955 as a result of his testimony before the Committee, which he did not serve due to a technicality). Most folk singers, including Enya, have followed Seeger's version.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, How Can I Keep From Singing was recorded by Catholic Folk musician Ed Gutfreund (on an album called "From An Indirect Love"), and the music was published in a widely used Catholic Hymnal called "Glory and Praise", and was popular among Catholic liturgical music ministers, especially those who used guitar. In this, and in an 1993 recording by Marty Haugen, Jeanne Cotter, and David Haas, the quatrain beginning: "No storm can shake my inmost calm ..." is used as a repeated refrain.
It is also sung by Dahlia Malloy (Minnie Driver) in the episode 'Virgin Territory' from Season One of FX's The Riches.
In his radio singing debut, actor Martin Sheen performed this song (using the Plenn–Seeger lyrics) on A Prairie Home Companion in September 2007. 

So what do we get out of this? First of all a great choral music heritage that grew from some of these songs' traditions and the development of choral organizations in the colleges and civic organizations. Second, a sense of connection with our past, heritage, and the spirit of music. Finally, a realization, I hope, that choral music embodies a part of the human spirit that is only possible when a group of people come together to make music with their voices. It is a completely unique, yet very common and communal, endeavor. And I hope that the Lincoln Choral artists convey our sense of these traditions, while still moving forward, and offer our audience a great "in the moment" experience of being in community. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why we should and do connect with our commnity

As an organization, Lincoln Choral Artists have made decisions to be actively involved in the community. But what does this mean? We no longer have the luxury of being an event that the whole community rallies around and supports. And maybe there was never a time when choral organizations had that support, it just seemed  like it. In today's world, where you can see live music, support an organization, or engage in civic duty without actually leaving your home, we need to make our connections to community about the art and collaboration at the event and our partners in the event. 

For our first concert we join with the
They will work with us to engage the community in giving as We Gather...

We need and want the audience to help us decorate the stage with gifts of canned and packaged foods. The choir will also provide in some of this cornucopia of gifts and we will then directly donate all collected food to the Food Bank. 

From an article by Chorus America

"... our expectations of engaging with communities have changed because of the confluence of three factors: 

  • Arts organizations are finally admitting they are in trouble. Their traditional audience is decreasing, and their traditional “outreach” programs that provide “exposure” to large numbers of children or adults have proven to have very little real impact. “Change or die” is a compelling directive, and many arts organizations now believe it is true. 
  • Funders are requiring and rewarding more ambitious community engagement. And funders, let me tell you: with your increased support, you can really help this experimentation grow. 
  • The experiments that most organizations have underway are actually exciting and successful, and there are more and more successful examples of arts organizations making innovative long-term relationships with new groups in their vicinity."
LCA is aware of these changes and we are working to collaborate and engage with the reality of the community we live and work in.

From the same article:
"Three emerging trends in the way arts organizations are approaching community engagement, which we might call promising practices. 

  • Listening more. Listening is key to deepening existing programs and discovering new kinds of partnerships. This listening takes time, a shift in intent, patience to press through awkward stages, and sometimes even facilitation. A guided discussion with an outside facilitator can help different parties define their interests and provide a vital ground upon which to partner. Simply put: healthy partnerships cannot grow unless arts organizations learn how to hear a community’s true aspirations. 
  • Increasing experimentation. Every arts organization should have exploratory partnership experiments underway. No exceptions for size or history; this is becoming the new norm.
  • Investing in teaching artists. Teaching artists are already the key deliverers of most community engagement, and those who can design and lead this experimentation have become crucial change agents. Many organizations are investing in the development of an advanced cohort and increasing their commitment to raising teaching artist capacity in general, since training pathways are generally haphazard and demands for this type of expertise continue to grow."
It is our goal, as the Lincoln Choral Artists, to create and maintain caring and quality partnerships with organizations and community members. We are in fact a community ensemble, made up of the community itself. We have singers from all kinds of backgrounds, who engage in civic and community volunteering on a weekly basis outside of their excellent work in Lincoln Choral Artists.

Help us to connect. 

Singers: Tell your family, friends, neighbors, strangers...everyone about us and our real connection to the life of Lincoln. 

Friends, blog readers, supporter, donors: Share this blog with your network of peers and work with us in engaging the art and life of Lincoln's community. Help us lift up not just the concerns, but the joys of our community. Join us as We Gather...with One Step on October 26th with the Food Bank of Lincoln at O' Donnell Auditorium, 3pm for a concert filled with the spirit of engaging art and community in unity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rosas Pandan, Music of the Filipino culture

 have taken on the Visayan language for the first concert of the season in the selection Rosas Pandan.

This is a great high energy choral arrangement of a popular folk song. Popularized on the album "Philippine Love Songs" by Pilita in 1974,
the song talks about Rosas Pandan who comes down from the
mountain to celebrate with a community. She brings a song and a dance; and causes a little drooling from the boys. The choir in large part is representative of an instrumental accompaniment with the sopranos singing most of the Visayan text:

Here is Rosas Pandan
Just arrived from the mountains
To be with all of you
To celebrate the fiesta

This song is my livelihood
An inheritance from my parents
A most ancient song
The pride of our hill country

Dika ding dika ding dika ding
Hey!, our song
Is still nice to dance to
Like fog on a cold day

Dika dong dika dong dika dong
Hey!, also the young man
He's looking at the young lady
His drool is falling

Ayayay ayayay ayayay
Hey!, my song
Is it nice to dance to
Like fog on a cold day

Visayan is the name of the language family in the central islands of the Philippines. It is also known as Bisaya, as technically there is no "C" in the Philippine alphabet. Visayan is comprised of several distinct languages. Sometimes the names Visayan and Cebuano are substituted for each other, but Cebuano is really a subset of the Visayan language family.

Filipino (Pilipino) is a language based on Tagalog, renamed and modified in order to create a national language. Before 1989 Pilipino was the national language. Filipino is said to be a combination of all the different Philippine languages, but is essentially Tagalog. In the Manila and the surrounding area, Tagalog is the primary language. Filipino and English are the official languages in the Philippines. Taglish is a combination of Tagalog and English.
One word used in English, boondocks, comes from the Tagalog word bundok, meaning mountain.
Tagalog is spoken natively by people living on the islands, Marinduque, Mindoro, and large areas of Palawan. It is spoken by approximately 70 million Filipinos, 96.4% of the household population. About 22 million of the total Philippine population, speak it as a native language.

Here is an example of the spoken language:
Hot and Cold

Here is a short article about the popularity of Filipino Choral Music around the world:
Choirs around the world take on Filipino classics

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Music and its effect

Maybe this is too weighty of a title, but I recently heard a great segment on Science Friday. This is an NPR show that doesn't air in Nebraska. So I pick it up on Podcast. What you need to now about me is that I am a science fan as well as a music fan! I've never been a ceiling fan...puh dum dum! I love things that are science related, especially Space, space travel, and science behind music and sound. I am also a SciFi fan; Star Trek, Star Wars, X Files, Dr. list can go on and on. But what I am sharing today is much more profound than just the science.
A professor of mine shares his story in this video of his final days with his mother.

What this story shows me is the the real power of music. Below is  link to this SciFri Podcast and an episode that deals specifically with why music effects our brains, especially damaged brains in stages of alzheimer's or dementia. 
Why do I talk about this today? Well firstly it's on my heart and mind after hearing this podcast, but also we, musicians, and specifically the Lincoln Choral Artists, will soon have an opportunity to share our music with the community. The reason we can, should, and do work hard in rehearsal is that we want and need this music to effect people. I look to perfect, or remove imperfection, from every measure of music we perform. We never know which song, phrase, or even a single chord might profoundly effect someone's life. We are given the great gift to share ourselves and our love of singing, and specifically singing in a  choir, to a group of witnesses with expectations, excitement, who offer support, and may or may not love our music too! It's not our job to change the reason for attending the concert, but it is our job to effect them, emotionally, maybe challenge them aurally, and definitely our way into their spirit, their energy, and our oneness as We Gather...with one step!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rehearsal 1 for With One Step...We Gather

Wow! It was so exciting to hear the LCA singers step up to some new  and classic music last night!
We started our time together with an arrangement of the National Anthem originally created for use by the US Army and Navy in their educational songbook series. Here is a video of the current Army Men's Chorus and their arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner today:

Continuing in the spirit of national pride, LCA singers have started work on one of Georg F. Handel's most famous Coronation Anthems. Written for the coronation of King George II in 1727, we are focused on the first of three movements, "Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened." The irony is that even though this text is biblical, it was chosen to represent the strength of the monarchy. However, George II is remembered with disdain and was considered boorish. He hated and did not understand parliamentary politics and was basically ineffective as a King. However, scholars have recently started to reconsider George II's role. He seemed to be effective in foreign policy and military appointments, especially during the Seven Years' War. His other claim to fame was that he died at 77, making him the oldest reigning King in his lineage.

Some of you may have noticed I spelled Georg wrong. Handel's actually pronunciation is in fact "Gay-org." George is the British equivalent and once Handel was appointed in Britain he mostly likely would have begun to refer to himself as such. Gotta Love nerdy choral trivia!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome to the Director's Connector

Hello Lincoln Choral Artists!
This is the first blog post for the Director's Connector.  Jason Horner, LCA's new director will be using this blog to communicate with choir members and the community about musing on music and other topics related to Lincoln Choral Artists.

Follow us and Stay tuned.