Rosenbaum: Flames So Bright at Chanukah

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,hanukkah,men's,mixed,women's | Saturday, October 13th, 2007

flame
Five years ago composer Dennis Rosenbaum was browsing through his published titles at YRM, and realized he hadn’t written any Hanukkah music. He decided to rectify the situation and Flames So Bright at Chanukah is the end result. Yelton Rhodes Music is pleased to bring this piece out this year!

Dennis wrote us about the process of composing this work:

I wanted to write something original, and realized that I needed to write my own text for it. Since I do write poetry, I was pretty sure that I could come up with suitable lyrics. I had the melody in mind, and came up with words to fit it that told the Hanukkah story. The end result is a piece with a Jewish flavor to the melody that tells the Hanukkah story in a very concise manner. It is short enough to allow for great versatility in programming for a wide variety of performances.

This piece is a straight-forward, melodic work intended to be sung a cappella. It is available for men’s chorus, mixed chorus and women’s chorus (just click on the links to view a partial score PDF of each voicing).

Flames So Bright at Chanukah (as performed by Madrigalia, Rochester’s Chamber Singers)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/rosenbaum.dennis/flames.so.bright.mp3]

Diane Benjamin: Solstice Carol

Publisher | children's,choral music,mixed,winter season,winter solstice,women's | Friday, August 31st, 2007

snow tree

Deep in the heart of late December,

Softly the snow begins to fall.

Slowly the night turns into darkness,

As we begin the longest night of all.

Watching, waiting

Light is fading,

On the longest night of all.

Thus begins Diane Benjamin‘s Solstice Carol, a straightforward and tuneful work celebrating winter solstice. Its beauty is in the simplicity of line and message, devoted to the subject of darkness, light and renewal.

A newly engraved edition of the original version for women’s chorus and piano was made available just last year, and Diane recently arranged the piece for mixed chorus and piano as well. Click on the links to view a partial scores as downloadable PDFs.

Paul Des Marais: Search

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,death and mortality,famous poets,mixed | Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

paul desmarais

Search, three movements for unaccompanied SATB chorus, was composed by Paul Des Marais in 2002. It’s a beautiful and reflective work set to poetry by W.S. Merwin, Theodore Roethke and Mark Doty, revolving around the journey of mortality. The composer describes this journey as being…

…full of feeling: full of fear, full of anger, full of sadness, and – sometimes – resolved by a quiet acceptance of the inevitable.

The movements are 1. the birds on the morning of going (with words by W. S. Merwin), 2. The Waking (with words by Theodore Roethke), and 3. The Retrieve (dream fragment), with words by Mark Doty. Click on the links to view partial score as downloadable PDFs.

Regarding the last movement, Des Marais writes the following:

In the poem by Mark Doty, revolving around the last days of his partner, the feeling of refusal is very powerfully described. Wally, Doty’s partner, hears madrigal-like, beautiful voices inviting him to come, to dance with them. And his reply: “I’m not ready yet; I’m not ready yet.” But it was a dream, and he did go.

Search was first performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Singers under the direction of Peter Rutenberg on June 9, 2002.

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/desmarais.paul/search.mp3]

Karlan Judd: What a Gay ‘Ol Christmas Tree

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),composers,gay & lesbian,humor,men's,mixed | Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

gay ol tree

For those who celebrate Christmas, there’s the fond memory of being kids and giving Santa a wish list of items they’d like to see under the tree come Christmas morning. But why should kids get all the fun? Why should this experience be relegated to our pre-pubescent years only?

Composer Karlan Judd and lyricist Joshua Ravetch had this idea in mind when asked to create a piece for the West Coast Singers, to be performed on their winter concert. Imagine being at an holiday party for adults and someone asks you to share your Christmas wish list. You do so with gleeful joy… just as if you were a kid. Now, imagine that party with a queer twist, and you have What a Gay ‘Ol Christmas Tree.

Adapted from a traditional melody, the mixed chorus version of this piece was new to the YRM catalog last year. But Karlan Judd recently created a version specifically adapted for men’s chorus as well. It’s “hot off the printing press” this week! You can peruse the first and last few pages (as downloadable PDFs) of both the men’s chorus and the mixed chorus versions by clicking on the links.

Karlan composed and arranged two other pieces for the same West Coast Singers concert which are published by Yelton Rhodes: This Time Next Year (based on Auld Lang Syne but with a contemporary text) and The Twelve Gays of Christmas (a traditional favorite also with a queer twist!).

What a Gay ‘Ol Christmas Tree (as performed by the West Coast Singers)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/judd.karlan/gay.ol.christmas.mp3]

Larry Moore: Likhtelekh (Light the Lamps)

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,hanukkah,men's,mixed | Monday, July 30th, 2007

hanukkah lamp

With an extensive ouevre of arrangements and orchestrations of Christmas music under his belt, Larry Moore decided to try his hand at Hanukkah music. He was asked by the Milken Archive to do an arrangement of Likhtelekh, a traditional Hanukkah melody, for mixed chorus. It was recorded with the original Yiddish text by the Coro Hebraeico. A few years later he decided to revisit the piece. Moore felt the text was fine, but wanted an English translation to make the piece accessible to a broader market. The trick was in finding a translation that he felt worked… and after two failed attempts he ultimately contacted Roger Bourland, publisher of Yelton Rhodes Music, who recommended Gary Bachlund, another accomplished writer and composer in the YRM “stable.”

Moore was delighted with Bachlund’s translation! Here are a few lines from the text:

Light the lamps and wonders tell. Light the lamps that hearts may swell, and dark days dispel.

Light the lamps of well-won peace. Light the lamps as battles cease. May this light increase.

Ah, Freedom won is worth such price, with God’s help which did suffice, worth each sacrifice.

Light these lamps that, as they burn, we may once again yet learn for liberty to yearn.

Moore also reworked the arrangement for men’s chorus. You can view a PDF of the first four pages of score for the SATB voicing and the TTBB voicing by clicking on the links.

Likhtelekh (Light the Lamps), as recorded by the Coro Hebraeico with the original Yiddish text.

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/moore.larry/likhtelekh.mp3]

Ruth Huber: Sacred Circle

Publisher | choral music,composers,mixed,winter solstice,women's | Friday, July 27th, 2007

wreath

Among Winter Solstice pieces in the YRM catalog which were composed initially for women’s chorus, Sacred Circle by Ruth Huber has been one of the most popular for more than 10 years! Her spirited melody touches not only on specific Winter Solstice symbols and meanings, but it gives a wink and a nod to other traditional holidays of the season.

Ruth writes the following:

My first chorus, Tapestry (the Austin Women’s Chorus) was invited to take part in a holiday concert with other choruses in Houston… I believe. It was a big event for us and we were excited to go, but what to sing? I wanted something that would celebrate the connection between traditional holiday carols and ancient Winter Solstice rites, using the symbol of the wreath to unite and include everyone. Such a piece didn’t exist. So I wrote it, and the wonderful women of Tapestry learned it in just a few weeks… shifting meters, key changes and all!

Ruth was kind enough to indulge our request that she prepare a voicing/arrangement of the piece for mixed chorus as well, and we’re happy to announce that it is now available! She also prepared a new edition of the SSA voicing which contains some minor revisions.

You can view the first few and the last few pages (as a PDF) of both the mixed chorus voicing and the women’s chorus voicing by clicking on the links.

Sacred Circle

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/huber.ruth/sacred.circle.mp3]

Paul Leavitt: Oseh Shalom

Publisher | choral music,composers,hanukkah,men's,mixed | Friday, July 13th, 2007

oseh shalom

The office at YRM has received several inquiries regarding our newest offerings of Hanukkah-appropriate music. So, in response to their requests, Paul Leavitt‘s Oseh Shalom has been selected for today’s blog entry (with more Hanukkah-related pieces to be featured in the near future).

Paul intended for this music to be a prayer to God to make peace for all of Israel and for all of us. Its message is one of increasing importance in the midst of escalating violence throughout the world. The composer himself tells how the piece came about:

When the director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Jeff Buhrman, asked me to write a commission piece for their 2003 holiday concert, I was needless to say flattered. The stipulation was that the piece had to be in Hebrew, and needed to be written for men’s chorus and brass quintet. There is a dearth of men’s choral music in Hebrew with brass accompaniment, I’ll admit. As the US was gearing up for war in Iraq, Jeff suggested we go “the peace route”. “Any suggestions?” I asked. He said, “How about the text to ‘Oseh Shalom’?”. “I love the text, but that’s kind of like rewriting ‘Let it be’ by the Beattles with a brand new melody. It’s one of the most popular songs in Hebrew in the world”. I continued to ponder the idea as the piece started to assemble itself in my inner ear.

Oseh Shalom is available for men’s chorus and mixed chorus, and YRM offers piano-vocal scores in addition to the full scores for chorus and brass quintet (2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba). Click on the links to view the first six pages of the piano-vocal score for each voicing.

Oseh Shalom (as recorded by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/leavitt.paul/oseh.shalom.mp3]

Steve Milloy: Children, Go Where I Send Thee

Publisher | choral music,christmas (sacred),composers,men's,mixed | Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

exeter

Steve Milloy is one of YRM’s most popular arrangers. It’s because he always brings a little something extra to everything he does… there’s typically some kind of twist that one may not expect. Children, Go Where I Send Thee is a perfect example of his exceptional talents as an arranger. A traditional African-American spiritual, this piece gives a count-down not unlike The Twelve Days of Christmas, where each number has a specific Biblical reference. It’s a piece meant for Christmas because the “one” is the “little bitty baby born in Bethlehem.”

Steve’s extremely clever arrangement was inspired by 40’s big band sounds, most notably Woody Herman’s Four Brothers in which a quartet is featured in front of the band. So, if you’ve think you’ve heard pretty much all the stylistic settings of African-American spirituals possible… you better hold on until you’ve heard this arrangement! It begins with a bang with a fast big band swing, and the energy is non-stop until the very end.

Children, Go Where I Send Thee is available for two voicings, one for TTBB quartet, men’s chorus and piano, and one for SATB quartet, mixed chorus and piano (click on the links to view the first six pages of score as a PDF).

And if you’re hungry for more, please check out Steve’s other unique settings of African-American spirituals, Mary Had a Baby and Behold that Star!

Children, Go Where I Send Thee (as recorded by the London Gay Men’s Chorus)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/milloy.steve/children.go.where.mp3]

Jerald Thomas Hawhee: Two Rossetti Carols

Publisher | choral music,christmas (sacred),composers,famous poets,mixed | Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Rossetti

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was an English poet whose words touched not only upon the spiritual (she was a strong high-church Anglican… so much so that she turned down two suitors due to religious differences, breaking her heart in the process), but also on physical beauty and the sublime in nature.

Jerald Thomas Hawhee has set two of her poems as Christmas carols, In the Bleak Midwinter and Love Came Down At Christmas with original music. The composer himself writes himself about his concept of these works available together in Two Rossetti Carols:

I’ve always liked Christina Rossetti’s simple, understated use of imagery. There’s a kind of home-spun quality to the poetry that makes it very immediate and personal, and I tried to convey something of this hearth-like warmth in my settings. Especially in “In the Bleak Midwinter” the harmonies are dense and quite closely written in order to evoke contrasting colors/feelings of isolation and warmth, exultation and humility. Each verse represents a variation on the same theme. The piece begins in a low–almost cramped–register and slowly, verse by verse, different voices take up the theme in their own idiomatic fashion, culminating in the song of the angels; the women (divided into four parts) soaring high into the stratosphere. The final verse brings us down to earth again to look inward and “turn all these things over in our hearts.”

The setting of “Love Came Down At Christmas” is simpler and more straightforward. The contrast between the introspective, personal nature of the holiday versus collective/community worship is highlighted by the use of an alto soloist (who introduces the theme) and the full choir which then takes up the theme and expands upon it. I revised the piece in 2000 to include a modulated section for a solo quartet to play on this dichotomy, create greater contrast and coloristic interest.

Two Rossetti Carols: You can view the first four pages of In the Bleak Midwinter (for SSAATTBB chorus a cappella) by clicking here, and the first three pages of Love Came Down At Christmas (for SATB chorus a cappella) by clicking here.

David Frank Long: A New December

Publisher | choral music,composers,men's,mixed,winter season,winter solstice,women's | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

for new december

Los Angeles is experiencing a heat-wave right now, and it seems odd to be writing a blog entry about a piece called A New December right before the Fourth of July! But seeing how the summer months are indeed the time when many choruses are planning ahead for their holiday concerts and making their programming decisions, it felt right to feature this particular work today.

With both original words and music by David Frank Long, this piece expresses many sentiments associated with the Winter Solstice. In particular, it addresses the subtle ironies of the season… that although it is a time when…

days are shorter now,

darker the sky,

colder blows the wind,

as nature sleeps all around us

… it’s the turning point of the year, marking a fresh start as the cycle of life begins again.

It also gives a nod to other holiday celebrations, noting that December is a time when people in general are celebrating light and beauty, providing a tie-in with both Christmas and Hanukkah festivities.

For it’s a new December!

And even though it’s winter,

There’s a brighter hope,

A deeper joy,

And a warmer love, love, love.

It almost seems like springtime!

The chorus sings in colorful, bold harmonies above a gentle, flowing piano accompaniment.

A New December is available for mixed chorus, women’s chorus and men’s chorus. Click on each voicing to view the first four pages of score as a PDF. The recording is of the voicing for TTB, featuring the Tenor & Bass sections of the West Coast Singers.
[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/long.david.f/a.new.december.mp3]

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