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.”

Kent Carlson: Women Singing in Winter

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

snowflake-background
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.

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

David Hahn:Tirlee! Tirlo!

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,christmas (sacred),mixed | Friday, July 17th, 2009

Shepherds with their pipes
With the bright sunny sky overhead and the heat of July permeating throughout the city of Los Angeles, I’m contemplating Christmas. Many choruses are beginning to plan their upcoming holiday concert now, so I decided to feature a newly published work by a new YRM writer, Seattle-based David Hahn. Tirlee! Tirlo! is a jubilant Christmas carol for mixed chorus a cappella. The text is from 15th century England, and the music is original. This piece is a wonderful example of how contemporary musical settings can bring such unique layers of meaning and expression to centuries-old texts.

When asked for some special insights about the piece, Hahn shared the following words:

The image of the three Kings visiting the manger and delivering their rich gifts is well represented in text and iconography. Tirlee! Tirlo! shows what the lowly shepherds had to offer the new-born Christ child: the spirited sounds of their pipes. The lyrics depict the joy which the shepherds felt as they witnessed the happy events and signs surrounding the birth of Christ. This is a song of celebration and the brief chorus following each verse mimes the pipes of the merry shepherds as they mark the day.

I am a scholar of renaissance and medieval music and find the most inspired vocal music–both sacred and secular–from those periods of music history. Consequently, for the Christmas carol Tirlee! Tirlo!, I set a text from a 15th-century England found in Bodleian Library at Oxford University. I set it in a way that the music would be compelling and fun to sing while remaining accessible for amateurs.

To see how the piece begins and ends, just click on the links to download score excerpts as PDFs.

Listen to David Hahn’s Tirlee! Tirlo!:
[audio:http://yrmusic.com/audio/hahn.david/tirlee.tirlo.mp3]

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]

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.)

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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

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]

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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