Joshua Fishbein: No union is more profound

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,family,gay & lesbian,love,men's,women's,YRM | Saturday, October 17th, 2015

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Do you remember when you first heard about the Supreme Court’s landmark, history-making ruling this past June in the case Obergefell v. Hodges which granted same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide?

New YRM writer Joshua Fishbein had just moved back to the Washington, D.C. area from Nevada. He was driving in his car, listening to NPR, and was ecstatic when he heard the news! In particular Joshua was struck by Justice Anthony Kennedy‘s majority opinion, the penultimate paragraph of which was shared in the NPR report.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” ~Justice Anthony Kennedy

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Joshua found this paragraph to be “poetically written, moving and naturally well-suited to music. Kennedy knew he was making history when he wrote those lines.” He felt so inspired by these words that he did set them to music, and YRM is fortunate and proud to be able to present this new publication to our customers!

No union is more profound for solo and TBB or SSA a cappella (click on each voicing to view a partial score PDF).

After the chorus sings the opening two lines (which express an universal message about marriage), the soloist enters in recitative style, representing the voice of Justice Kennedy, while the rest of the ensemble acts more as a backup choir. Joshua explains,

“In this way the setting was influenced by my background in Jewish liturgical music, where the choral parts, subservient to the melody sung by the cantor, often exist for harmonic support and to echo the cantor.”

This piece is written in a contrapuntal style with certain words and phrases repeated in order to emphasize them. He chose to leave out the final short paragraph “The judgment… is reversed. It is so ordered.” And rather than end the piece with “The Constitution grants them that right,” the first line is repeated as a musical bookend.

Joshua hopes that the audience who hears this work will be impacted by the monumental change embodied by Justice Kennedy’s words.

“I want them to hear the universal love represented by marriage, as well as the gravitas of these cases, in which both men and women were deprived of the fulfillment of marriage and equal dignity in the eyes of the law. At the same time, I also want the audience to hear optimism in the circumstances surrounding these words.”

Oldies but goodies for the holidays!

July through September is typically when most choirs endeavor to plan the programs for their holiday concerts. And for artistic directors and chorus singers who have discovered the YRM catalog fairly recently, we thought it might be helpful to provide lists of those holiday pieces which have proven to be the best-selling and most popular. Perhaps even loyal customers may find that information to be of use. So, after a careful and thorough review of sales reports… here they are (for each voicing – mixed, men’s chorus and women’s chorus, with titles listed alphabetically)!

SATB Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1213v2 Christmas Brunch (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1212v2 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR2301v2 Christmas is the Warmest Time of the Year (Hall/Mamey)
YR1117v2 If Not At Christmas (MacDuff/Henderson)
YR1401.2v1 Shines a Star (Perry/Carlson)
YR3508v2 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR3102v2 Tomorrow Shall Be My Shopping Day (Sturgis/Moore)
YR1J17v2 What a Gay ‘Ol Christmas Tree (Ravetch/Judd)
YR9115 The Work of Christmas (Thurman/Hardin)
YR1103v2 You’re Home for the Holidays (Daggett/Henderson)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR1N11 All Hayle to the Days (Elizabeth Norton)
YR8700 Carol of the Bells (Leontovich/Saladino)
YR5505 Hark! (in ⅞) (Mendelssohn/Landau)
YR3501v2 In the Spirit (Three Spirituals) (Steve Milloy)
YR7700 O Tannenbaum (Oh Christmas Tree) (Glenn M. Carlos)

HANUKKAH

YR1121v2 Flame of Faith (Marcus/Henderson)
YR7121v2 Flames So Bright at Chanukah (Dennis W. Rosenbaum)
YR6701v2 For All To See (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)
YR2600v2 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR3131v2 Likhtelekh (Light the Lamps) (Bachlund/Moore)

KWANZAA

YR5203v2 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)
YR2508 Kwanzaa Spirit (Ginger Starling)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR1109 Circle Dance (Gwiazdowsky/Henderson)
YR1401.1 Hymn of Winter (Longfellow/Carlson)
YR6204v2 Kore Evohe (Kelleher/Schrag)
YR9916v2 The Longest Night (Middleton/Shelton)
YR9305v2 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR1600v2 A Season for Lovers (John-Michael Albert)
YR6407v2 Solstice Carol (Diane Benjamin)
YR4304v2 Song of the Solstice (Near/Langley)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v2 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

TTBB Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1212v1 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR3507 The Davey Dinckle Song (Crom/Milloy)
YR1011v1 Fa la la (Blah blah blah) (MacDuff/Bourland)
YR9713 Homo for the Holidays (Strangis/Smith)
YR1117v1 If Not At Christmas (MacDuff/Henderson)
YR3R11 Santa, Won’t You Please Come Back (Pingree/Richardson)
YR3508v1 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR3102v1 Tomorrow Shall Be My Shopping Day (Sturgis/Moore)
YR1200 Welcome! Sing, Be Merry! (Dean X. Johnson)
YR1103v1 You’re Home for the Holidays (Daggett/Henderson)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR3113P Appalachian Carols (Larry Moore)
YR3504v2 Behold That Star! (Steve Milloy)
YR3817 Three Christmas Carols (Eric Helmuth)
YR7500 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Alex Rybeck)
YR8202 Hallelujah Chorus (Handel’s “Messiah”) (Ralph R. Hays)
YR3110 The Holly and the Ivy (Larry Moore)
YR3124 Masters in This Hall (Larry Moore)
YR3303 O Holy Night (J.A. Kawarsky)
YR1C11 Procesión jíbara (Puertorican Carol) (Edgar Colón-Hernández)
YR4903 There Shall a Star (Mendelssohn/Trinkley)

HANUKKAH

YR6101 Dreidel A-Go-Go (Jeffrey Moidel)
YR1102 Hanukkah (Gerson/Henderson)
YR1903 Hanukkah Blessings (David York)
YR2600v1 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR2L13v1P Oseh Shalom (Paul Leavitt)

KWANZAA

YR5203v1 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR9305v1 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR1600v1 A Season for Lovers (John-Michael Albert)
YR2403v1 Triumphant Light Fanfare and Hymn (Donald Skirvin)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v1 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

SSAA Most Popular_

CHRISTMAS (ORIGINAL WORDS and/or MUSIC)

YR1213v3 Christmas Brunch (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1212v3 Coming Out on Christmas (Sturgis/Johnson)
YR1011v3 Fa la la (Blah blah blah) (MacDuff/Bourland)
YR3508v3 This Holiday (Steve Milloy)
YR4321 Why Oh Why (Joan Szymko)

CHRISTMAS (ARRANGEMENTS)

YR4012 Angels We Have Heard On High (Naomi Stephan)
YR4014 In Dulci Jubilo (Naomi Stephan)
YR3501v3 In the Spirit (Three Spirituals) (Steve Milloy)
YR9107 Maria durch ein Dornwald ging (Clif Hardin)
YR1C12v2 Tres Estrellitas (Three Little Stars) (Edgar Colón-Hernández)

HANUKKAH

YR6701v3 For All To See (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)
YR2600v3 Three Hanukkah Songs (Charles Baker)
YR6700v3 Nes Gadol Haya Sham (Jerald Thomas Hawhee)

KWANZAA

YR5203v3 Harambee (Joseph Jennings)

WINTER SOLSTICE/SEASON

YR6204v1 Kore Evohe (Kelleher/Schrag)
YR9916v3 The Longest Night (Middleton/Shelton)
YR9305v3 A New December (David Frank Long)
YR3406v1 Sacred Circle (Ruth Huber)
YR6407v1 Solstice Carol (Diane Benjamin)
YR1112v1 Under the Holly Bough (Mackay/Henderson)
YR9301v3 Winter Solstice Moon (David Frank Long)

Kent Carlson: Women Singing in Winter

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,gay & lesbian,love,winter season,women's | Friday, July 18th, 2014

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Continuing in the vein of “winter in July,” YRM is pleased to announce another addition to our catalog: a new original composition (words as well as music) by Kent Carlson titled Women Singing in Winter for SSA a cappella. The piece evokes a sense of intimacy, sensuality and romance. It offers a very unique option for women’s choruses who are planning a seasonal concert this coming winter.

Carlson shares the following insights:

“When I wrote Women Singing in Winter, I had just finished reading Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle and June Arnold’s Sister Gin one right after the other, and then I was listening for the millionth time to k.d. lang’s album All You Can Eat. I was so inspired that I thought it would be fun to write a new song for SSA a cappella that incorporated the powerful works of these women. I envisioned two of my female friends in a wintery setting, singing together, enjoying literature, music and erotic fun. Then I wrote the text. The setting came a day later, and followed the natural rhythm of the words. I hope this a cappella work provides a welcome challenge vocally to the extraordinary women’s choirs of today, and perhaps also an unconventional yet satisfying text for December concerts.”

View a partial score PDF of Women Singing in Winter here, and the full lyrics are below:

First the setting: cold and quiet.
Next the players: you and I,
Resilient goddess and resilient goddess.

Women singing in Winter.
Warm by a fire, just singing with k.d.
Sipping Sister Gin in a Rubyfruit Jungle.

Reconteuse, skin like vellum,
Earthy, bold
Just like Women singing,
Singing in Winter.

Now the reason why: we just celebrate
The simple fact of being together in the Winter.
This is our song: the song of Women singing,
Singing in Winter.

Dennis Rosenbaum: Velvet Shoes

Publisher | choral music,famous poets,gay & lesbian,men's,mixed,winter season,women's | Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Walk in the snow

Once again it is July and thoughts at YRM are turning to snow… with a couple of new publications that touch upon the subject of winter (just in time for your winter concert programming consideration, of course!).

The first of these two new scores (the second one will be featured next week!) is a setting of Elinor Wylie‘s poem Velvet Shoes by Dennis Rosenbaum. He first became acquainted with this text when he heard Randall Thompson’s choral setting at an assembly in the seventh grade. He was intrigued by the imagery of walking in fresh fallen snow being likened to walking in “velvet shoes.”

To his delight that very poem was presented for study in an English class just a few weeks later. The text stuck with him over the years, and he was inspired to do his own musical setting in 2003. His intention was as follows:

“The overall mood I strove to create throughout the piece was one of romantic intimacy – a walk through virgin snow with a lover in a world which is quiet, hushed, and tranquil after a snowstorm; a moment which is private, event though it takes place in a public setting, a walk that becomes the moment when a relationship “gels,” and is ever after remembered as the start of that commitment.

The calm of the final plagal cadence represents the lovers resting into their new commitment to each other. The end result of the piece shows the calm of the outer world contrasted with the internal passion of the lovers taking a walk in “velvet shoes” for the first time in their relationship. In the end, the listener is taken on a journey not only through freshly fallen snow, but into the romance of the couple walking through it.”

This thoughtful and lovely piece is ideal for those choruses wanting to program music that touches upon the subject of winter, but isn’t tied to any particular holiday celebration. Velvet Shoes is available for men’s chorus, mixed chorus and women’s chorus with piano accompaniment (click on the link to view partial score PDFs).

Here’s a clip of a concert performance by the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus:

Randi Driscoll: Love Is Love

Publisher | choral music,gay & lesbian,love,men's,mixed,uu,women's | Friday, June 27th, 2014

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The year was 2008, a decade after Randi Driscoll had composed what matters, a beautiful and moving tribute to Matthew Shepard. The songwriter was troubled to see her home state of California embroiled in the controversial battle over Proposition 8 and was inspired to pen Love Is Love as a response.

“[The song was] written as I contemplated where we stood as a country ten years after Matthew Shepard’s death, but more importantly, where I envisioned we, as a society could grow and evolve to. It is my hope for a better tomorrow.”

She collaborated with Kevin Robison (with whom she also worked on what matters) to have the piece arranged for a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Tim McKnight then adapted Robison’s arrangement for mixed and women’s chorus.

As LGBT Pride Month draws to a close, and in celebration of the momentous progress that has been achieved regarding LGBT rights since the fateful passage of Prop 8 nearly six years ago, Yelton Rhodes Music is excited to announce this new addition to our catalog! Please note that the writers have graciously agreed to donate all royalties from sales of this choral arrangement to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

[excerpt from lyrics]
There’s a million voices singing by the river,
There’s a hundred lovers dancing in the sand.
There’s a bridge that brings the two sides together,
And a peace that paints the skyline of the land.

Oh, the candles on the water,
The colors of the rainbow light the sky.
Oh, bless all your sons and daughters
So they may never have to know
How hard we had to fight for Love.
Love is love is love is love.

loveislovephoto copy

Download partial score PDFs of Love Is Love for men’s chorus, mixed chorus, and women’s chorus.

Here’s a recording of the solo version of Randi’s song (we hope to have a recording of the choral arrangement soon!):

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/html/audio/driscoll.randi/love.is.love.solo.mp3]

Long/Sobrack: Marrying on Christmas Day

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),gay & lesbian,humor,men's,YRM | Friday, June 6th, 2014

On the heels of President Barack Obama’s proclamation earlier this week declaring June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, news comes today that seven couples have officially filed lawsuits against North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban. This means that the fight for marriage equality has now been brought to EVERY SINGLE STATE in the U.S.A. that doesn’t already acknowledge same-sex marriage rights.

It is remarkable how much progress has been made in the past few years!

The occasion seems appropriate to share a performance of Marrying on Christmas Day by the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus in 2012. Their whimsical and joyful rendition (complete with choreography!) was made at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Oregon. Now, not quite two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt same-sex weddings in that state. The legal battle isn’t done, but it is clear that marriage equality continues to gain greater and more solid ground.

There is no overtly political tone in Marrying on Christmas Day (Lyrics by John Sobrack/Music by David Frank Long). It is simply taken as a given that a gay couple should be able to marry. After a humorous argument over whether or not Christmas is really the best day for a wedding, the couple realizes that ultimately what truly matters is love.

We’re marrying on Christmas Day.
It’s a dream come true:
Domestic partner wedding rendezvous.
Marrying on Christmas Day.
Side by side our lives have just begun
Where two hearts have become as one.

Partial score (PDF)

When it is summertime and your mind is on holiday music…

holiday
For many choral directors, the holidays REALLY begin in the summer as they consider what music to program for their upcoming concerts in November and December. It can be tricky trying to focus on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice when you’re dealing with July-August heat, vacations, and fireworks!

YRM customers frequently inquire, “What’s new in the catalog regarding holiday music?”

So, here’s a breakdown of the latest additions from the past three years (Click on the voicings to see a few pages from each score as PDFs. For those pieces which were featured in our 2010 Holiday Sampler, the links will take you directly to that download page):

All Hayle to the Days YR1N11 – traditional English carol arranged by Elizabeth Norton. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/Winter season

Campana Sobre Campana YR1C18v1-3 – traditional Andalucian carol arranged by Edgar Colón-Hernández. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Christmas

Christmas is a Season YR4C11 – original music and words by Jennifer Covert. SSAA, cello, piano and sleigh bells. Category: Christmas

Christmas Wish, A YR1D12 – original music and words by Ann MacDonald Diers. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/General holiday

Davey Dinckle Song, The YR3507 – original song by Rick Crom, arranged by Steve Milloy. TTBB, solos and piano. Caategory: Christmas/humor

Festive Joy and Peace YR3C11P – original song by Rich Cook and Cathy Bridges, arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB and piano. Category: General holiday

Marrying on Christmas Day YR9307- original words by John Sobrack and music by David Frank Long. TTBB (with optional soloists) and piano. Category: Christmas/humor

Mary’s First Lullaby YR5S13 – original music and words by Jonathan Santore. SATB and cello or piano. Category: Christmas

Peace In Your Heart YR2D11v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB and piano. Category: General holiday

Still, Still, Still YR3C12 – traditional Austrian carol arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB a cappella with tenor solo. Category: Christmas

These Holidays! YR2D12v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB a cappella. Category: General holiday

This Holiday YR3508v1-3 – original music and words by Steve Milloy. TTB, SAB or SSA and piano w optional guitar, bass and drums. Category: General holiday

Together This Christmas YR7502 – original words by Barbara Fried / music by Alex Rybeck. Solos, TTBB and piano. Category: Christmas

Winter Blessing YR5M12v1-3 – original music and words by Lynn Fisher McCanne. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Solstice/Winter Season

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Randi Driscoll: What Matters (2002)

Publisher | choral music,composers,gay & lesbian,men's,mixed,secular,Topics,women's | Monday, July 21st, 2008

Two performances of “What Matters” by Randi Driscoll: the first by the composer (YouTube video), the second by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (an audio file:click the play button).


“What Matters”
Words, music, and performance by Randi Driscoll

This is an arrangement by Kevin Robison available in three voicings sung here is the TTBB version.

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/driscoll.randi/what.matters.ttbb.mp3]

What Matters (2002)
COMPOSER :: Randi Driscoll
ARRANGER :: Kevin Robison
INSTR :: chorus and piano
DURATION :: 04:00
YR2R11v1 Full score (TTBB) $1.85
YR2R11v2 Full score (SATB) $1.85
YR2R11v3 Full score (SSAA) $1.85

Lyrics

you were the brightest angel heaven had ever seen you walked in with a story to tell and ten thousand tongues to scream and you said doesn’t your heart beat the same as mine haven’t i told you a thousand times isn’t the air in my lungs the same air you breathe so who cares whose arms i’m all wrapped up in who cares whose eyes i see myself in who cares who i dream of who cares who i love heaven help me for i am lost what a price my love did cost but here i am standing strong and i am free and didn’t we share the same sunrise and sleep in the same moonlight isn’t the blood in my veins the same blood you bleed so when i die and they lay my body down the peace that i will find is the peace that brings you all around doesn’t my mother cry like everyone my father grieve for his lonely son isn’t my rainbow a little brighter because so who cares whose arms i’m all wrapped up in who cares whose eyes i see myself in who cares who i dream of no it doesn’t matter who i dream of ’cause in the end it only matters that i was loved and am loved love has no face

Copyright 2000 New Light Media

Notes by Randi Driscoll:

When I first heard the story of what happened to Matthew Shepard, I was saddened and outraged. I wanted to kick in my television, rip out my heart and cry all at the same time. I was horrified at what humans were capable of. However, I then remember seeing his parents, outside in the rain, shortly after his funeral. I was speechless and stricken by their sense of compassion and decency. I clearly remember the way the Shepards told us to pray for Matt and not harbor any feelings of hatred for his attackers. I also remember clearly how they described their son as a man who would not want us to hate…because Matthew loved and accepted everyone. Their grace moved me to tears.

So with that, I went into my bedroom and wrote a song about Matthew and the love he represents. I planned on sending a taped copy to his parents, as a form of my own personal condolences.

Later that month, however, I was playing a show at Borders Books and Music in San Diego. I was thinking of Matt a lot that day and for some reason, I chose to sing Matt’s song (which I hadn’t really even finished yet). What happened next was amazing. Men and women of all ages came up to me in tears and expressed how they had been so moved by what happened to Matthew. A mother of two small children reached for my hand and cried. A man came up to me and spoke through his tears. People clutched one another, crying. It was then that I realized how Matthew’s story had touched so many others

And then there was Dana. Dana LeeWood is another musician from San Diego. She was performing that evening as well. When Dana heard the song, she began to sob and immediately began to tell the audience how passionately she felt about this incident. It seemed Dana’s brother had taken his own life, due to the pressures he felt being a gay man in today’s world. Dana encouraged me to record the song. She pursued me for several weeks, bringing people to shows and talking about Matt’s story.

Finally in January, Dana amazed me by giving me some free studio time she had won at Studio West in San Diego. With the help of many musicians who shared their time and talents, and a small company in LA, we were able to record this song.

Dana hoped to share the song with many people by selling the CD single. We agreed that the only way to do this was to have all of the proceeds from the single go to anti-hate crime organizations: i.e.. The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

We decided to release only a limited pressing. We chose not to do a major media press release in hopes of maintaining the integrity of the project, but rather hold a small fund raiser at a local venue in town, Twiggs coffeehouse. Imagine our surprise when on March 5th, 1999, the intimate coffeehouse was packed to the gills with people. Local citizens and musicians came to help support the cause and to perform. A local publication, Slamm magazine, took out a full page ad on the benefit, and Tracy Page Presents donated prizes for a raffle. The evening was so beautiful. It brought me to tears to see the room packed with people who cared so very much.

That same evening we informed the audience about anti-hate crime organizations and made web site addresses available for them to take home. We were able to sell over over 200 CDs that evening alone. I can remember driving home with a feeling of hope that I hadn’t had in a while.

Through my contacts with anti-hate crime organizations, I was invited to meet with Judy Shepard on Easter Sunday in Laramie, Wyoming, to speak with her and share Matthew’s song. I sat next to a woman who had, only six months earlier, lost her son to a vicious hate crime. Yet, there was no hate that I could see. She spoke of her son with a warm smile….and with grace…always grace. She seemed determined to have his death not be in vain as she spoke about her hopes for a better tomorrow.

Along with Judy, there were many other angels that weekend in Laramie. Gathered outside of the courthouse in Laramie for a press conference in support of active measures against hate were members of GLSEN, Cathy Renna of GLAAD, Valerie Baker-Easley of LAMBDA , Marlene Hines of the North West Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, Jerry Switzer from the B.E.A.R. Foundation and many of Matthew’s friends. People standing together on common ground, grieving the loss of Matthew and praying for a better tomorrow. People breathing the same air…under the same Wyoming sky.

Since that time almost two years ago, I have traveled to over sixty cities in the USA and Canada performing the benefit single at charity events, pride festivals and concerts. I have traveled to several high schools and colleges with New Light Media as part of a program featuring the screening of the documentary Journey to a Hate- Free Millennium. I have also appeared as Judy Shepard’s guest in Oakland and the Millennium March on Washington.

I thank God for what this experience has taught me. I thank him for the numerous e-mails that I have received from people who have heard the song. People who have chosen to share their most intimate details with me. Stories of love, acceptance and hope. I also thank God for the people I’ve met at shows. I thank God for the woman who lost her friend to a suicide, for the man who received a copy of the song as an Easter gift and for the strangers who hug me with tears in their eyes and say thank you.

And I thank God for the Shepards. I have often said that this work is the most important work I have ever done….and this song, .the most important one I have ever written. I have seen angels, who believe as I do, that love is unconditional…that love has no face.

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]

Bourland and Hall: The Parade

Publisher | choral music,composers,gay & lesbian,men's | Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

flashpoint_stonewall_carneg.jpg

Today is Gay Pride Day in West Hollywood. We haven’t gone in years, not that we aren’t proud, it’s just, well, we don’t go any more.

Last night before I heard the premiere of Paul Chihara’s terrific new choral work, MAGNIFICAT, I went to Basix, a mostly gay and lesbian restaurant by myself. I got to watch all of the out-of-towners come in in 2s and 3s and 4s. Two gorgeous thin career lesbians. Two elderly heavy and not particularly pretty dkyes. Two very homely men who [thank god] have found each other, and two pretty boys, maybe 19, who look alike and are all over each other. And over at that table is a man in his 70s looking queenly, and his much younger lover of 58 slowly down their bottle of chardonnay. They don’t smile. Walking by on Santa Monica Boulevard are lots more of all shapes and sizes, coming to WeHo for Gay Pride Day.

John Hall wrote the lyrics to this next song showing the difference between a viewpoint from an old queen and one from a young disinterested queer, both watching the parade go by. Rick Garretson and Santo Regni sing the older and younger gay men in this song. Little did any of us know that a few months later, I would enter into an intergenerational relationship myself. [Coming on 13 years now by the way…]

The Parade was written by John Hall and me and is from the electro-acoustic cantata, FLASHPOINT/STONEWALL (1994), for 4 synthesizers, bass (me), drums, soloists, and men’s chorus, a commission celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The consortium of commissioning choruses were the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, the Seattle Men’s Chorus, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. Each of the choruses performed the work in their own cities. I went to all of them except Seattle as I had to be in Chicago that night for a premiere my LETTERS TO THE FUTURE.

The Parade

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/bourland.roger/the.parade.mp3]

Notes by Roger Bourland

[Picture © James Patrick Kelly; RB at Carnegie Hall premiere of Flashpoint/Stonewall, June 1994.]

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