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]

Neal Richardson: Santa, Won’t You Please Come Back

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),composers,humor,men's | Friday, June 29th, 2007

Santa cap

Santa has a big job ahead of him on Christmas Eve, what with all those toys to deliver. It must be a long night of anticipation for Mrs. Claus as well. But what if Santa didn’t come home the next morning? How would his wife feel… especially if she happened to be pining for a little attention from her man?

Neal Richardson‘s original composition, Santa, Won’t You Please Come Back, with lyrics by John Pingree, addresses that issue in a hilarious way! Written for soprano solo, men’s chorus and piano, this delightful piece proceeds almost as a call and response between the chorus and the soloist, whose lines are to be sung in a sexy, slow, bluesy style.

Santa, won’t you please come back!

You left a redhot mama in an igloo shack.

I sit here wondrin’ where the heck you’ve been.

I finished off the egg nog, started in on the gin.

The elves are bangin’ on my door each night.

They ain’t the Seven Dwarves, and I ain’t Snow White.

Without my sugar Santy, I shiver in our shanty.

Santa, won’t you please come back!

Mixed choruses shouldn’t count this one out… just have your men do a number on their own and spotlight one of your best sopranos. This piece offers a lot of opportunities to really ham up the performance and make your audience laugh!
View the first six pages of score here.

Santa, Won’t You Please Come Back (Gateway Men’s Chorus featuring Christine Brewer)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/richardson.neal/YR3R11.santa.mp3]

Thomas L. Read: New YRM Composer!

Publisher | choral music,composers,famous poets,men's,mixed | Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

T Read photo

Yelton Rhodes Music would like to officially welcome Thomas L. Read to our family of talented composers! Thomas, a violinist as well as a composer, is a Professor of Music at the University of Vermont. He has composed music for a variety of media and almost entirely on commission- music for small ensembles, full orchestra, solo voice, chorus and musical theater.

We’re delighted to publish three of Thomas’ choral works, all of which are a cappella. His music is strongly lyrical and expressive. The texts he selected to set musically are highly passionate writings by two American poets of the romantic period, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Herman Melville.

To learn more about Thomas L. Read, click here.

Changed (for TTB chorus), with words from H. W. Longfellow’s Birds of Passage

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/read.thomas/YR4R11.changed.mp3]

View the first two pages of score as a PDF by clicking here.

_________________________

A Parable (for SATB chorus), with words from Herman Melville’s Misgivings

View the first 6 pages of score as a PDF by clicking here.

_________________________
Serenade (for TTB chorus), with words from H. W. Longfellow’s The Spanish Student

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/read.thomas/YR4R13.serenade.mp3]

View the first 2 pages of score as a PDF by clicking here.

Bourland and MacDuff: Crocodile’s Christmas Ball

Publisher | animals,choral music,christmas (secular),composers,men's,mixed | Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Croc Xmas Ball

Looking for something FUN to include on your holiday program?

Crocodile’s Christmas Ball (from a larger 8 movement work titled Crocodile’s Christmas Ball and other odd tales) was originally composed for baritone solo, SATB chorus and wind ensemble. Understandably enough, not many choruses have easy access to a wind ensemble. So, composer Roger Bourland has created a piano-vocal score for this fabulously fun Christmas romp.

There’s a little bit of dark humour in the work (think Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas). Here’s an excerpt from William MacDuff‘s witty, tongue-in-cheek lyrics:

The moral is that when you
Attend a table d’hote,
Be sure to check the menu
Before you check your coat.

Beware of eager strangers
Too full of Christmas cheer,
For Christmas has its dangers
Like any time of year.

In Santa’s suit
A croc is cute
But he’s an ani-mall.
He’ll have your hide
Sautéed or fried

At the Crocodile’s Christmas Ball!

Click here to view the first 5 pages of score as a PDF.

There’s also a voicing available for men’s chorus.

Crocodile’s Christmas Ball (recording from the performance featuring baritone soloist, SATB chorus and wind ensemble)

[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/bourland.roger/crocodiles.xmas.ball.mp3]

Eric Helmuth: The Mahogany Tree

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),men's,winter season | Friday, June 15th, 2007

Mahogany tree

When you think of a mahogany tree, you might predictably imagine a mighty trunk with leafy branches above, right?

Well, you wouldn’t quite be hitting the mark if one was referring to this piece by Eric Helmuth. Mahogany was a very popular wood in England, imported from the Americas. It was used for fine furniture, in particular the dining table which was commonly known as “the mahogany tree.”

And although one may not suspect that this piece is holiday-themed… it is! With lyrics by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), Helmuth’s The Mahogany Tree, for TTBB and piano, is a boisterous, joyful depiction of a group of men gathered around the table as they sing, drink and toast to each other and to the Christmas season.

Here’s an excerpt from the text:

Once on the boughs, birds of great plume
Sang in its bloom:
Night birds are we: here we carouse singing like them,
Perched round the stem of the jolly old tree.

One particularly special aspect of this piece is Eric’s energetic and brilliant piano accompaniment.

To view the first four pages of the score, click here.

Scott Henderson: Flame of Faith

Publisher | choral music,composers,hanukkah,men's,mixed | Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Hanukkah at home

How familiar are you with that one famous drop of oil that lasted eight days and nights?

As holiday concerts become increasingly “multi-traditional”, many audiences anticipate hearing a piece that celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah. Scott Henderson‘s original composition Flame of Faith (A Hanukkah Song), with lyrics by Linda Marcus, both inspires and informs regarding the observance of this Jewish holiday. Henderson has a knack for writing elegant and engaging melodies supported by colorful harmonic progressions, and this piece exemplifies his wonderful musicality and keen sensibility regarding the treatment of text.

Flame of Faith is available for both mixed chorus and men’s chorus. Click on the links to view the first 6 pages of each score.

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