Randi Grundahl Rexroth: My True Love Hath My Heart

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,famous poets,love,men's,secular,women's | Thursday, June 4th, 2009

randi-rexroth
When YRM’s submission review committee first looked at Randi Grundahl Rexroth‘s My True Love Hath My Heart… we knew we had to publish it! The piece is a lovely and playful madrigal (a cappella) with a charming text written by Sir Philip Sydney, one of the Elizabethan Age’s most prominent figures.

What makes the way that Rexroth adapted the text particularly special is its ability to accommodate a variety of gender references. My True Love Hath My Heart is composed for either women’s or men’s chorus (download the first three pages of each score as a PDF by clicking on the links), with each voicing able to use either “his” or “her” pronouns. This flexibility allows a chorus to express themselves precisely as they’d like!

Randi shares the following story about the inspiration for the piece:

“I needed to give my boyfriend a Christmas gift, but I was not able to buy him much. After speaking with my mother, who is a composer herself, she sent me the Philip Sydney text. She had tried to set herself, but had come up short. I remember her saying “I wanted to compose a contemporary madrigal, but I just couldn’t hear it”. As soon as I received the words I heard this piece.

I wrote the song as a solo and recorded it as my gift. A month later, I arranged the piece to be an SSAA arrangement that would be used in our wedding. The choir that sang My True Love Hath My Heart was made up of students from the schools where we teach and was touted as a highlight of the ceremony.”

Randi Grundahl Rexroth’s My True Love Hath My Heart:
[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/rexroth.randi/my-true-love-hath-my-heart.mp3]

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.

Paul Crabtree: Annunciata

Publisher | choral music | Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

paul_-july_4th.jpg

“Annunciata”
Music by Paul Crabtree
Words by Emmeline Stuart-Wortley/Ave Maria
SATB
© Yelton Rhodes Music YR2C14

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/crabtree.paul/annunciata.mp3]

Bio

Before graduating from the Music Faculty at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany, Paul Crabtree was the keyboard player in a catastrophically unsuccessful garage band called Goats’ Opera. He grew up with an equal interest in rock culture and classical music, but was disappointed that his academic training never acknowledged the world of rock and pop, and transplanted to California in his early 20s.

Exposure to the musically permissive culture in the Bay Area led him to integrate the various strands of his personal history, to embrace and intermingle ideas as diverse as Latin poetry and 1960s girl groups;

* Glenn Miller is Missing sets Emma Lazarus’ poetry (about the ecstasies of music) as a jitterbug.
* Five Romantic Miniatures (from The Simpsons) bring cartoon sentiments into the concert hall.
* Annunciata combines the wiltingly love-lorn Victorian poetry of Emmeline Stuart-Wortley with Gabriel’s message to the Virgin.

Crabtree also uses objets trouves both alone and alongside standard texts;

* Three Letters to My Father use the texts of enigmatic hand-written notes which he found among family papers.
* Pax et Bonum is a response to the sudden death of a young tenor friend, whose last letter is quoted ironically alongside a Shakespeare sonnet on immortality.
* When Are We Leaving? intermingles a similar sonnet with some of Iris Murdoch’s final ramblings as she was falling victim to Alzheimer’s disease.

His most ambitious work is The Museum Guard, a one-hour chamber opera for performance in art museums, based on the novel by Howard Norman.

Jerry Ulrich: New YRM Composer

Publisher | choral music,composers,famous poets,golden years,love,memories,mixed,women's | Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Jerry Ulrich photo
For our first post of 2008, we’d like to welcome Jerry Ulrich to our roster of incredible choral composers!

Jerry is an ASCAP award-winning arranger/composer, originally from Illinois. He’s currently Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he directs two mixed choirs and the all-male Georgia Tech Glee Club. His numerous compositions and arrangements in the catalogs of several publishers in the US and abroad have sold over 80,000 copies. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, throughout New York City and on national radio and television, as well as throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Yelton Rhodes is pleased to offer three of Jerry’s choral compositions: I Know a Garden (text by Robert William Service), Music, when Soft Voices die (text by Percy Bysshe Shelley) and When You Are Old and Gray (text by William Butler Yeats). All three pieces are deeply romantic, with a twinge of melancholy. Ulrich’s choral writing is robust and colorful, featuring elegant melodic exchange between the parts, and a lush tonal harmonic language. His music has a very madrigal-esque quality.

The composer himself offers the following insights to his compositions (click on the titles to download and view partial score PDFs):

I Know a Garden (SATB and piano)

Robert William Service was born on January 16, 1874 to a Scottish bank clerk and the daughter of an English factory owner. At the age of 15 he followed his father into the banking business, but in 1896 he immigrated to Canada. He spent several years in the Yukon, and the austere landscape is infused into many of his poems. During his life, he traveled extensively in North America and Europe and died in 1958. This setting was composed in October 2002 for the Southeast Alaska Music Festival Honors Chorus.

Music, when Soft Voices die (SSAA and violoncello)

[This] is a setting of the familiar Percy Bysshe Shelley poem. Its somewhat haunting and incomplete melodic character is intended to reflect the melancholy nature of the text. It was composed in April 2004, and is dedicated to the composer’s Hofstra University Music Department colleagues with appreciation.

When You Are Old And Gray (SAB and piano)

[This] is a setting of a pensive poem written from the perspective of an older person reflecting on a missed opportunity for love at an earlier age. The Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. Yeats’ years of unrequited love to Maud Gonne (including four unsuccessful marriage proposals) is reflected in the poem. The composition is dedicated to the composer’s mother and in honor of his father, who were married for 57 years.

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]

Roger Bourland: Alarcon Madrigals, Book 3 (2006)

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,secular,women's | Thursday, September 13th, 2007

A year ago I spent 10 days in Maui and Kauai working on the third installment of settings of poetry of Francisco X Alarcón. The first set was commissioned by Vance Wolverton and the Cal State Women’s Fullerton Women’s Chorus. Books 2 and 3 were commissioned by Iris Levine and Vox Femina/Los Angeles. (All are available from Yelton Rhodes Music.)

[RB]

fxa.jpg

ALARCON MADRIGALS, Book 3 (2006)

Music by Roger Bourland
Poetry by Francisco X Alarcón
Performed by Vox Femina/LA, Iris Levine, conductor (May 2007)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/bourland.roger/alarcon.madrigals.bk3.mp3]

1. Body in Flames

I want to abandon
words

go and awaken
the senses

I want
no memory

rather to embrace
every instant
to a frenzy

I want to think
with my feet

I want to cry
with my shoulders

I want to set
my body on fire

2. Lamentario

es triste ser vaso y nunca llenarse
ser puerta y siempre quedarse trancada
ser cama sentirse mortaja no lecho
es triste ser uno y nunca sumar dos
ser ave sin nido ser santo sin vela
ser solo y vivir soñando abrazos

3. Like a crazed flower

there has never been sunlight for this love,
like a crazed flower it buds in the dark,
is at once a crown of thorns and
a spring garland around the temples

a fire, a wound, the bitterest fruit,
but a breeze as well, a source of water,
your breath –– a bite to the soul,
your chest––a tree trunk in the current

make me walk on the turbid waters,
be the ax that breaks this lock,
the dew that weeps from trees

If I become mute kissing your thighs,
it’s that my heart eagerly
searches your flesh for a new dawn

4. Face and Heart

may our ears hear what nobody wants to hear
may our eyes see what everyone wants to hide
may our mouths speak our true faces and hearts
may our arms be branches that give shade and joy

let us be a drizzle, a sudden storm
let us get wet in the rain
let us be the key, the hand, the door, the kick, the ball, the road
let us arrive as children to this huge playground ––
the universe

5. Guardian Angel

When I felt so sad and all alone
Wanting to cry in the classroom
The girl sitting next to me
Suddenly held my hand
And with the darkest and most tender eyes
I’ve ever seen
Told me without a word
“Don’t worry, you are not alone.”

Poetry © Francisco X. Alarcón

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]
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