Friday, July 9, 2010

The Organ Loft - Settings of the Magnificat

The Organ Loft - July 11, 2010
Settings of the Magnificat
Webcast and Broadcast Schedule

Program: Magnificat
  1. Buxtehude: Magnificat primi toni, BuxWV 2031
  2. J.S. Bach: Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 6482
  3. J.S. Bach: Fugue on the Magnificat, BWV 7333
  4. J. S. Bach: Magnificat, BWV 2434

Recordings Used:
  1. “Dieterich Buxtehude: Abendmusik” Magnus Kjellson, organ; Intim Musik IMCD 070
  2. “Johann Sebastian Bach / Wim van Beek” Wim van Beek, organ; locally produced recording from Groningen, Holland; WBG 9905
  3. “J.S. Bach Organ Works, Volume 6” George Ritchie, organ; Raven OAR-740
  4. “Johann Sebastian Bach: Magnificat” Barbara Schlick, soprano; Anges Mellon, soprano; Gerard Lesne, alto; Howard Crook, tenor; Peter Kooy, bass; La Chapelle Royale and Collegium Vocale directed by Philippe Herreweghe. Harmonia Mundi HMC 901326

Listen Online:

KING-FM Seattle's Classical Choice — Sundays at 10:00 PM

OREGON: KWAX-FM and the University of Oregon radio network — Sundays at 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July Musical Celebrations - American Spirit

Happy 4th of July! We're celebrating the American Spirit through music! Here are a few great recordings for your celebrations!

American Masterpieces
Seattle Pro Musica
Karen P. Thomas, conductor

Beloved American choral music from Seattle Pro Musica s American Masterpieces Choral Festival at Benaroya Hall, and other 2006-2007 American Masterpieces Season concerts. Enjoy the best of American choral music on this new CD, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius. Includes works by Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Moses Hogan, and Morten Lauridsen.

Illustrates the vitality and excellence of the best contemporary North American vocal ensembles. --Jean-Marie Marchal, International Choral Bulletin, 4th Quarter, 2008

1. Spring Song
2. Sa Nuit D'Ete
3. To Mistress Margaret Hussey
4. The Battle of Jericho
5. Io Piango
6. Amor, Io senta L'alma
7. Se per havervi, oime
8. Io Son la Primavera
9. Mary Hynes
10. Anthony O Daly
11. The Coolin
12. Da Pacem
13. Winter
14. Lux Aurumque
15. How Can I Keep from Singing
16. McKay
17. Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal
18. Chichester Psalms, Movement

The American Spirit
St. Martin's Chamber Choir
Timothy Krueger, director

The American Spirit is St. Martin's Chamber Choir's celebration of American composers, and includes Cecil Effinger's "Four Pastorales" with oboe, Terry Schlenker's Kyrie, Randall Thompson's "Alleluia", a new setting of "The Lamentations of Jeremiah" by Timothy Krueger, Jean Berger's "Skelton Poems" with piano and Tim Sarsany's Salve Mater misericordiæ.

"A gratifyingly wide range of both subject matter and style . . . warmly recommended." --Fanfare Magazine

Four Pastorales - Cecil Effinger (1914-1990)
Texts by Thomas Hornsby Ferril
1. No Mark
2. Noon
3. Basket
4. Wood
To a Wild Rose - Edward MacDowell (1869-1908)
Kyrie - arr. Arthur Somervell
Salve Mater misericordiæ - Terry Schlenker (b. 1957)
The Lamentations of Jeremiah - Tim Sarsany (b. 1966)
The Lessons for Tenebrae in Holy Week - Timothy J. Krueger (b. 1964)
Alleluia - Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
The Eyes of All - Jean Berger (1909-2002)
Skelton Poems - Jean Berger
Texts by John Skelton (1460-1529)
All noblemen of this take heed
The Manner of the World Nowadays
Falconer, thou art to blame
Justice et mort
Upon a dead man's head

Shenandoah: Songs of the American Spirit
Mindy Ball, harp
David Clemensen and Lisa Sylvester, piano
Tim Emmons and James Garafalo, bass
David Montoya, harmonica
Robert Slack, drums and percussion
Pacific Chorale's John Alexander Singers
John Alexander, conductor

Conductor John Alexander takes the listener on a musical tour of American historical touchstones, celebrating the diverse folk culture of the United States, as well as the emotions and experiences of pioneer life.

The John Alexander Singers, one of America's rising professional choirs, captures the essence of the American Spirit in this inspirational recording.

The history of our country is written in our song, and what a variety of song it is! Our ancestors brought with them from abroad the music of their homelands, and over time many of these songs were set to English texts and found their way into our national repertoire.

Then there is the cornucopia of songs that sprang from the American experience itself, but for which no composer or librettist is known, music often called “folk” or “traditional.” The wars we have fought, the slave experience, the conquering of the West, our loves, and our tragedies are all recorded here.

And few other countries can match the diversity of native songs written by identified composers of every ethnicity and national origin. The period from 1850 to 1940 saw an explosion of popular song, starting notably with the music of Stephen Foster, and culminating with the prolific songsmiths of Tin Pan Alley in New York.

The music on this recording is chosen from this great body of music and takes us on a tour of American historical touchstones as well as the emotions and experiences of everyday people.
—Dr. Gordon Paine

1. Shenandoah

The end of the Civil War marked the beginning of the great westward migration: millions of pioneers in search of riches or simply a new life set out in endless wagon trains, pushing the frontier ever closer to the Pacific. With them they took precious few belongings, but many memories of the land they loved and left behind. “Shenandoah,” the words of a wistful Virginia settler transplanted west of the Missouri river, is an expression of his homesickness. Not only is “Shenandoah” one of the greatest American songs; James Erb’s arrangement stands as one of the most unforgettable folksong arrangements in the repertoire.

arr. James Erb

2. Sourwood Mountain

Aaron Mosley, tenor
Carver Cossey, bass
The words to “Sourwood Mountain,” an Appalachian folksong, exist in a great variety of versions, owing to its popularity and wide dispersal over time. The nonsense syllables of the refrain, “hi-ho, hi-ho diddle-um a-day,” may well be an imitation of the banjo, the characteristic instrument of the Appalachians.

arr. John Rutter

3. She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain

“She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” serves as a wonderful example of how “traditional” music can morph into different genres. It appears to have been adapted after the Civil War from a Negro spiritual entitled “When the Chariot Comes,” then converted by Appalachian whites into a folksong, and finally transformed into a railroad work-gang song. American composer Emma Lou Diemer takes the evolution a step further in her light, jazz-influenced, art-music arrangement.

arr. Emma Lou Diemer

4. Down to the River to Pray

Aaron Mosley, tenor
Thomas Ringland, bass
Kellee King, soprano
“Down to the River to Pray,” an African-American spiritual, has been around for perhaps two centuries. In songs like “Shenandoah,” rivers were important geographic and spiritual landmarks to white pioneers, and to slaves they were metaphoric borders between freedom and slavery, heaven and earth. Here the poet calls on all mankind — sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, and sinners — to “come down to the river to pray,” and on the way to contemplate who is to be saved.

arr. Philip Lawson

5. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Zanaida Robles, soprano

The plaintive words of the African-American spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” can be interpreted literally as the lament of a young slave sold away from his parents, but they were likely metaphoric. The “motherless child” could be a slave separated from and yearning for his African homeland, a slave suffering “a long way from home” — home being heaven — or most likely both. “Sometimes I Feel” was a repertoire piece for the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the first post-Civil-War choir of African-Americans to sing the music of their people in public concerts.

arr. Robert Fountain

6. Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

Kellee King, soprano
Laura Harrison, alto
American conductor and arranger Robert De Cormier introduces his interpretation of “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” a song of the American Revolution, by writing, “The heartbreak and tears that accompany every war when a young soldier leaves his home is the eternal theme expressed in this gentle, haunting song. Probably the most beautiful song sung by Washington’s men is an American version of an Irish ballad, ‘Shule Aroon,’ which goes back to 1700, when Irishmen were leaving home to fight in the armies of France.” In another fascinating example of musical cross-pollination, “Shule Aroon” found its way in adapted fashion into the nineteenth-century African-American folksong repertoire.

arr. Robert De Cormier

7. Aura Lee

Daniel Babcock, tenor

The cultured poetry of “Aura Lee” betrays the fact that the song is composed rather than of folk origin. Written by W.W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton around the start of the Civil War, “Aura Lee” expresses the yearning of a young soldier for his “maid of golden hair.”

George R. Poulton, arr. Ralph Hunter, Alice Parker and Robert Shaw

8. Goober Peas

Aram Barsamian, baritone
David Clemensen, piano
Mark Hayes describes “Goober Peas” as “a Civil War song” and “a favorite of Confederate soldiers.” “With food in short supply, the soldiers joked that they had to survive on peanuts (goober peas), which grew easily in the South.” The song was first published in 1866, immediately after the Civil War.

arr. Mark Hayes

9. He’s Gone Away

Like “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” the tender North Carolina ballad “He’s Gone Away” presents the lament of a girl for her soldier gone to war. Neither the specifics of its origins nor its age are known. But unlike “Johnny,” “He’s Gone Away” is filled with hope for the young man’s return as the lass who sings it continually looks for a familiar silhouette on the horizon, “over yondro” (yonder).

arr. Ron Nelson

10. Cindy

Daniel Babcock, tenor
Aram Barsamian, baritone
Aaron Mosley, tenor
Dennis Houser, bass
Folksongs typically consist of just a melody, and for choral performance, composers have to “arrange” them, adding harmony, additional parts for the choral voices, changes of texture, and so on. Whereas most folksong arrangements are rather simple in keeping with the original material, Mack Wilberg’s “Cindy” is truly “symphonic.” The text comes in endless variations, from innocent to downright raunchy, and the twelve verses Wilberg chose are among the more polite.

arr. Mack Wilberg

11. Billy Boy

Katharin Rundus, soprano
Daniel Cardwell, tenor
David Clemensen, piano
Of his version of “Billy Boy,” a sweet song in which a boy chats with his mother about his maternally dominated girlfriend, arranger Mark Hayes writes, “Dating to at least the early nineteenth century in the United States, ‘Billy Boy’ is one of the more popular ‘courting songs.’ Its lively comic banter inspired numerous improvisations over the years, including ‘She can make a loaf of bread with her nightcap on her head,’ and the ever popular ‘Yes, she took my hat and she threw it at the cat!’”

arr. Mark Hayes

12. Buffalo Gals

Nicholas Preston, tenor

“Buffalo Gals” is a rollicking piece that celebrates the joy of dancing under the night sky. Its roots are in the years before the Civil War, but the composer is unknown. John Hodges, a minstrel who performed in blackface under the stage name “Cool White,” published the first printed version in 1844. The words could change according to where it was sung, and so it might be known in Buffalo as “Buffalo Gals” but in California as “California Gals.”

arr. John Alexander and Ryan McSweeney

13. The Erie Canal

James Martin Schaefer, baritone
David Clemensen, piano
It is hard for us today to think of western New York as “the frontier,” but it was just that at the turn of the nineteenth century. To reach the Great Lakes with goods from the East required painfully slow oxcarts and vast amounts of time. That changed in 1825 when “The Erie Canal” opened, permitting barges of up to seventy-five tons to make the trip via water. Late in the nineteenth century, the mules that had pulled the loads fifteen miles a day were replaced by steam engines, and with their demise, an era came to an end. In 1906 Tin Pan Alley composer Thomas S. Allen mourned that lost age in this wistful song.

Thomas S. Allen, arr. Mark Hayes

14. Home on the Range

Familiar to every Boy Scout, Girl Scout, and most other Americans, “Home on the Range” is one of those tunes that sounds like a folksong but was actually written by an identified composer. It appeared in print in 1873 with words by Kansas doctor Brewster M. Higley and music by Daniel Kelly. Its popularity spread far and wide, and it became the state song of Kansas in 1947.

Daniel Kelly, arr. Mark Hayes

15. Colorado Trail

Colorado was a critical juncture for American pioneers: either they would stay on the eastern plains to farm or ranch, or they would journey across the Rockies, where many would die of cold or exhaustion. At first only hearty miners and cowboys lived in the mountains, where the latter drove cattle to market. “Colorado Trail” is a cowboy love song of unknown origin, but one writer reports that it was likely the work of “a cowboy from Duluth, Minnesota, whose name is unknown. He was brought to the hospital after being thrown and trampled by what he called ‘a terribly bad hoss. . . .’ As the unknown cowboy convalesced and his strength returned, he sang across the hospital ward in a mellowed tenor voice, and the other patients always called for more. One of the songs he sang was ‘Colorado Trail.’”

arr. Norman Luboff

16. Sacramento ~Sis Joe

Composer Jackson Berkey writes that his “Sacramento ~ Sis Joe” “is a joyous, eclectic mix of Americana at its best! It is a combination of [Stephen Foster’s 1850 song] ‘Camptown Races’ (with text about the Sacramento Gold rush) and ‘Sis Joe,’ a railroad work song used by Aaron Copland in his famous ‘Rodeo!’”

Jackson Berkey

17. How Can I Keep From Singing?

Lorraine Joy Welling, soprano
I-Chin Feinblatt, alto
“How Can I Keep from Singing?” That is the question Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1826–1899) poses as a refrain in his hymn of the same title. It appeared and still is found in many hymnals with his lyrics, which folk singer Pete Seeger rewrote to soften their Christian focus and widen the song’s audience. It is in this form that most people know the piece and it is Seeger’s text that Ron Staheli used in this gentle, radiant arrangement.

arr. Ronald Staheli

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4th of July Musical Celebrations - Shaker Tunes

Continuing on our 4th of July Musical Celebrations, we're featuring two albums of Shaker Tunes! These are such a great choice for your Independence Day Celebrations because this music is strictly American.

Gentle Words
Shaker songs arranged by Kevin Siegfried
The Tudor Choir, Doug Fullington, director

"Gentle Words is another treasure by Loft Recordings, and excellent little independent label based in Seattle that specializes in organ music. If you care about American music or the art of sublime choral singing, I implore you to buy this recording." - Fanfare

Shaker music is one of the richest bodies of folksong in American history and Kevin Siegfried's arrangements follow Shaker aesthetics of beauty, simplicity and utility. Sung by The Tudor Choir, this recording incorporates a variety of original choral arrangements, including unison singing and antiphonal performances.

Booklet contains full texts and commentary on each tune, and an introduction to Shaker music.

This is one of the staff's favorite CDs...
  1. I will bow and be simple
  2. In yonder valley
  3. All is summer
  4. O Lord make me pure
  5. Love is little
  6. The burning day
  7. Circular march
  8. Help me, O Lord
  9. Heavenly display
  10. Followers of the Lamb
  11. Come to Zion
  12. We must be meek
  13. Lay me low
  14. Solemn song
  15. Beautiful treasure
  16. Peace
  17. Angels of heaven
  18. Hunger and thirst
  19. Dismission of Great I
  20. Revelation
  21. Prayer for the captive
  22. Gentle words
  23. Beautiful valley
  24. Jubilee
  25. Ezekiel's vision
  26. Almighty Savior
  27. Cords of love
  28. I will go on my way

The Shakers, or United Society of Believers, originated in England around 1747. In 1770, the charismatic Ann Lee became the acknowledged leader of this small, spirited band. Their animated and ecstatic worship practices incorporating dancing and singing gave rise to their common name. Directed by a revelation, nine Shakers, including Mother Ann Lee, departed for America in 1774, to escape persecution and spread their unique message.

"Put your hands to work and your hearts to God," Mother Ann told her followers, and this they did. Shaker communal societies spread throughout the eastern United States and west to Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, with a total estimated population of 6,000 at its peak by the 1840s. Guided by the principles of celibacy and devotion to the gospel, these societies were characterized by pacifism, gender/racial equality, and an astounding industriousness and invention. With one society still remaining today in Maine, the Shakers have outlived all other "utopian" religious communities, leaving an indelible mark on American culture.

The visionary and original Shaker spirit perhaps found its greatest expression in music and dance. As a result, Shaker music represents the largest body of folksong in American history with approximately 10,000 songs in existence. Seeking separation from the world, the early Shakers avoided all harmony and instrumental accompaniment in their music, and created their own musical notation to record their unique, unfettered songs. These melodies reveal an inspired imagination and strong sense of musical line and proportion.

Because Shaker music is undeniably important to American musical history and culture, my goal in arranging these Shaker melodies for choirs is to make them accessible and useful in modern worship and concert settings. Central to all Shaker art and music is the theme of functionality, defined by use. It is my hope that these arrangements will move the Shaker songs from historical text into living musical settings. They seek to combine the Shaker themes of beauty, simplicity, and utility.

As a composer and arranger, my approach to these songs grew out of an intense involvement with the material, rather than a preconceived idea rooted in my particular musical style. I have attempted to maintain the simplicity and directness of the original, unison melodies, with an emphasis on unison singing and antiphonal performance which were at the very heart of Shaker musical practice. The majority of Shaker songs still remain hidden from public view, requiring a massive effort of compilation and transcription. I am most grateful to the scholars and performers whose passion and activity in the realm of Shaker song study and transcription have brought so much to light: E.D. Andrews, Mitzie Collins, Harold Cook, Randy Folger, Roger Hall, and Daniel Patterson.

My first introduction to Shaker music came through reading E.D. Andrews’ famous book The Gift to be Simple. The man who brought Shaker music alive to my ears and imagination was Randy Folger, who performed daily in the meeting house at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky. Randy’s position as Music and Special Programs Manager at Shaker Village gave him the opportunity to establish a deep, intimate relationship with Shaker music. As anyone who heard him knows, he gave himself wholly to the songs, resurrecting the power and spirit of an inspired Shaker singer. It was Randy who first encouraged me in this project of arranging Shaker songs. Sadly, his life was taken in an auto accident in 1999. This recording is dedicated to him, in gratitude for his friendship, encouragement, and inspiration.

To Randy – your voice breathed life and goes on singing.

- Kevin Siegfried

Simple Gifts
The Tudor Choir
Doug Fullington, director

A follow-up to their successful CD of Shaker tunes, “Gentle Words,” The Tudor Choir expands the repertoire to include other British and American music of simple character and enduring melody.

“[The Tudor Choir’s] lovely shaping of phrases, impeccable intonation and unadorned, clean sound allow the words and music to become the Shaker “prayer language,” to free the mind from the world, to visit the soul.”
—The Living Church

"As the title suggests, ‘Simple Gifts’ is the point of departure here, with no fewer than four arrangements of Shakerism’s greatest hit. The singing from this chamber choir from in the Pacific Northwest is as graceful, unpretentious, and well-scrubbed as the music. Once again, it’s the simple gifts that turn out to be the pearls of greatest price."
—The American Record Guide

  1. ‘Tis the gift to be simple, Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr.
  2. The Humble Heart, Thomas Hammond, Jr., arr. Kevin Siegfried
  3. Star of Purity, Susannie M. Brady, arr. Siegfried
  4. All at home Shaker song, arr. Siegfried
  5. Simple gifts, Brackett, arr. Siegfried
  6. I am the Rose of Sharon, William Billings
  7. I wish I was a child again, Appalachian song, arr. Michael Neaum
  8. Jesus Christ the apple tree, Elizabeth Poston
  9. My Shepherd American will supply my need, traditional song, arr. Virgil Thomson
  10. Simple gifts, Brackett, arr. Aaron Copland
  11. Zion's walls, John C. McCurry, arr. Copland
  12. The hills, John Ireland
  13. At the water’s edge, Siegfried
  14. He that is down need fear no fall, Ralph Vaughan Williams, arr. Brian Judge
  15. O taste and see, Williams
  16. The call, Williams, arr. Allen Percival
  17. Loving shepherd of thy sheep, John Rutter
  18. One thing have I desired, Doug Fullington
  19. The gift to be simple, Brackett, arr. Bob Chilcott