Thursday, September 29, 2016

Music on Our Fall Concert Pt.4: Multicultural, Folk songs, and the Opener!

This is the final part of the look at the music on the LCA Fall Concert: A Capital City Choirs Concert, Sunday, Nov. 6, 3pm, College View Church, Lincoln, NE.

One of our selections comes from the Latinamerican community. "Salmo 150" is composed by Ernani Aguiar, thise piece is published through earthsongs, the leading publisher of multicultural choral music in the United States. "Salmo 150" uses the text of Psalm 150 sung in Latin.

Praise the Lord in his sacred places, praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts, praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of trumpet, praise him with the psaltery and the harp. Praise him with the timbrel and the dance, praise him with strings and pipes. Praise him with the high-sounding cymbals, praise him with cymbals of joy. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!

Editor Maria Guinand says about this setting of the text, " will provide an opportunity for many choirs to get to know this wonderful music," speaking of Aguiar and his Brazilian compositional style. She goes on to say, "...and through it, to discover our traditions, our rhythms, and our soul." 

This setting is highly rhythmic with a wide open quality. 

I'll Tell My Ma, arranged by Erik Jones, will be our most visually impressive selection as it features body percussion divided into three distinct groups throughout the choir. Jones says about the piece "I came up with the idea for I'll Tell My Ma watching my young son play on the playground. there was a pair of girls playing patty-cake and the singing a nonsense rhyme, the cadence of which reminded me of the old Irish children's song, I'll Tell My Ma...I wondered what it would be like to arrange that song while the singers played patty-cake, and the idea quickly morphed into a tour-de-force of different combinations of movement and singing." This beautiful and lively text will add another level of excitement and a sense of playground fun to our concert!

Finally, I end with our Concert Opener: The Call of Music with words and music by Joseph M. Martin. This piece was commissioned for the 2015 All-Ohio State Fair Choir. 

The 200 members of the choir are selected each spring on the basis of their ability and experience, the recommendation of their high school choral director, and the consent and support of their parent or guardian. Five days before the opening of the Ohio State Fair, the new choir meets at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus and launches into a rigorous schedule that includes vocal training, sectional and full rehearsals, solo auditions, and marching instruction. Once the fair opens, the Youth Choir sings six to eight concerts a day and marches up to ten miles a day to various performance sites around the 360 acre fairgrounds.
The All-Ohio Youth Choir has been described by members as "an experience in living," "Introduction to College 101," "a secular retreat," and "the musical forte of the year." Parents have applauded the Youth Choir experience as "the finest opportunity for personal growth and development," and "a life-changing three weeks." Music educators have complimented the Youth Choir for "good, healthy singing," for encouraging "wonderful musical spirits," and for urging the singers to "take that energy back home to their own schools." 
©2016 The All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, Inc.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at Our Music for the Fall Concert 2016!
Please come see and hear this great music!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Music on Our Fall Concert p. 3: Three Giants

For part 3 of this blog topic, Music on Our Fall Concert, I am talking about 3 giants in the choral world; F. Melius Christiansen, Dale Warland, and John Rutter.

 We are performing Christiansen's "Lamb of God." F. Melius was the founder and conductor of the St. Olaf College Choir. He is credited with starting the Lutheran Choral Tradition in the United States. His sons, Olaf and Paul J, went on to serve as conductors at St. Olaf and Concordia (my alma mater) respectively. Students of this family have gone on to serve as conductors in high schools, colleges, and professional organizations across the country and the world. The approach and practices in tone, color, balance, and repertoire can be seen throughout the choral world. Few individuals have had as much influence over the choral arts as F. Melius Christiansen.

Coming out of the Lutheran Tradition, but primarily focused on the professional choral scene, is Dale Warland. We will be performing "To a Young Child" which was commissioned by Clarion Chamber Chorale in Omaha and is dedicated to the memory of the Americans who died in the Challenger Shuttle Mission, on January 28, 1986. Dale says about the piece "I read an inspiring and thoughtful response to the Challenger Tragedy that qouted from Gerald Manley Hopkins' 'Spring and Fall' (1880). The poets words spoke immediately to me. Although I hadn't intended to write a work that addressed such a serious theme, musical ideas flooded my mind and I sketched the entire setting in one sitting."

Reaching across the pond, John Rutter has been a seminal master composer in the choral field for over 40 years. He deftly writes gorgeous and memorable melodic lines and deeply understands the Anglican choral tradition. His "pop" music sensibility in rhythm and phrase has appealed to choir in US and across the globe. We are performing "Look at the World" and will feature the Sacred Arts Home School Choir and children's voices with this piece.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Music on our fall concert pt. 2: Nebraska Wesleyan Composers

I am so excited to share two pieces with you today that will be featured on the fall concert. Both composers Boyd Bacon and Jean Henderson have strong ties to Lincoln Choral Artists through our long relationship with Nebraska Wesleyan University. Featuring these composers connects directly to our season theme "Sowing the Seeds of Music in Nebraska" and our focus on the city of Lincoln at our fall concert "A Capitol City Choirs Concert."

Boyd's biography can be found at

We are performing an unpublished work titled "Nebraskaland Collage." This piece deftly combines the state song of Nebraska, "Beautiful Nebraska" and the American hymn "America the Beautiful."
In our performance the Sacred Arts Home School Children's choir will sing many of the sections on America the Beautiful while the combined forces of the Lincoln Choral Artists and the Lincoln Lutheran Choir will sing Beautiful Nebraska. This piece shows Boyd's ability to write in a beautiful choral voicing and full, rich piano accompaniment.

Jean Henderson has an excellent article in the Journal Star from her retirement in 2012.

We will be performing her arrangement of "The Ash Grove." This arrangement uses the familiar folk tune and text. In the middle verse the rhythm is offset and feels syncopated by adopting a duple time signature.

We are so pleased to feature these Lincoln composers in November!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Music on Our Fall Concert pt. 1: Gabriel Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine

For the next few weeks I will be posting information about the music being performed on our fall concert, A Capitol City Choirs Concert, Sunday, Nov. 6, 3pm, College View Church, Lincoln, NE.
Today I begin with Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine. All of this information is "searchable" via Wikipedia and other online sources. It's always possible to dig deeper than what I have posted, but this is a great start.

Cantique is a composition for mixed choir and organ. The text, "Verbe égal au Très-Haut" ("Word, one with the Highest"), is a French paraphrase by Jean Racine of a Latin hymn from the breviary for matins, Consors paterni luminis. The nineteen-year-old composer set the text in 1864–65 for a composition competition at the École Niedermeyer de Paris, and it won him the first prize. The work was first performed the following year on August 4, 1866 in a version with accompaniment of strings and organ. The style shows similarities with his later work, Requiem. Today, the two works are often performed together. LCA begins this season with the Cantique and will conclude with movements from the Requiem at our fall concert.

The text reflects sentiments from Ambrosian hymnody which was used for morning worship on Tuesdays in Ancient church. The Ambrosian music would have been sung in a chant style. Faure would often refer to texts and even melodic content of ancient chant throughout his career. The serene and lyric quality of the Cantique shows, even at his young age, a particular sensitivity to the lyric line and long legato phrasing.

Here is a translation:
Word of God, one with the Most High,
in Whom alone we have our hope,
Eternal Day of heaven and earth,
We break the silence of the peaceful night;
Saviour Divine, cast your eyes upon us!

Pour on us the fire of your powerful grace,
That all hell may flee at the sound of your voice;
Banish the slumber of a weary soul,
That brings forgetfulness of your laws!

O Christ, look with favour upon your faithful people
Now gathered here to praise you;
Receive their hymns offered to your immortal glory;
May they go forth filled with your gifts.

What is a cantique and who is Jean Racine?
Essentially cantique is a French word for song. In this case Faure is referring to the text only. Jean-Baptiste Racine was a 17th century playwright. And this is his translation from Latin to French of the Ambrosian hymn. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A New Season, A New Theme, and New Friends...

I am so fired up for the new Lincoln Choral Artists' 2016-17 Season. We start rehearsals tonight!
Our Season theme is "Sowing the Seeds of Music in Nebraska." We celebrate the state of Nebraska's Sesquicentennial, 150 years!

Our first concert, "A Capitol City Choirs Concert," will feature the unique "voices" of three Lincoln Choirs; the Lincoln Choral Artists, the Lincoln Lutheran Choir, and the Sacred Arts Home School Choir. The concert is Nov. 6, 3pm, at College View Church in Lincoln!

Our Gala event "Crooners Over Lincoln" will feature music from the 1940s and 50s. We will soar in the sky above Downtown Lincoln at the Nebraska Club. This concert and fundraiser will be on March 3rd, 2017!

Our final concert shares the theme of our Season "Sowing the Seeds of Music in Nebraska" and will feature guest community choirs from around the region!