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.

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