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.
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.
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.
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)