CD Liner Notes In our 30th anniversary year, Bellevue Chamber Chorus is excited to announce the release of our first holiday CD Christmas Visions, Winter Dreams, a delightful compilation of holiday selections we have recently performed! Liner notes can be found online at: http://bellevuechamberchorus.org/18_Winter_Visions_CD.htm
See, Amid the Winter’s Snow
Howard Helvey (b 1968) Kristine Anderson - piano; Louise Baldwin - flute
The familiar text of See, Amid the Winter’s Snow by Edward Caswall (1814-78) is given a fresh new musical treatment by Cincinnati-based Howard Helvey. Helvey’s frequent use of the Lydian mode (raised 4th scale degree) in the piece is meant to create “a sense of expectancy of Christ’s birth.” See, amid the winter’s snow, Born for us on earth below, See, the tender Lamb appears, Promised from eternal years! Hail, thou ever blessed morn! Hail, Redemption’s happy dawn! Sing through all Jerusalem: “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Lo! within a manger lies He who built the starry skies, He who, throned in height sublime, Sits amid the Cherubim.
Sacred Infant, all divine, What a tender love was thine This to come from highest bliss Down to such a world as this! Teach, oh teach us, holy Child, By thy face so meek and mild, Teach us to resemble thee In thy sweet humility.
Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Herbert Howells was one of England’s greatest 20th-century composers, particularly known for his voluminous output of Anglican church music which was strongly influenced by Renaissance models. The gorgeous setting of a poem by F.W. Harvey is one of his three Christmas Carol-Anthems from 1919. Sing lullaby, sing lullaby, While snow doth gently fall, Sing lullaby, sing lullaby, To Jesus born in an oxen stall. Sing lullaby to Jesus Born now in Bethlehem,
The naked blackthorn’s growing To weave his diadem. Sing lullaby, sing lullaby to Jesus, While thickly snow doth fall, Sing lullaby, sing lullaby to Jesus, The Savior of all.
Herself a Rose
Craig Courtney (b 1948)
This piece focuses on the figure of Mary, symbolized by the poetic image of a rose. American composer Craig Courtney provides a gorgeous setting of English poet Christina Rossetti’s marvelous poem. Herself a rose, who bore the Rose, She bore the Rose and felt its thorn. All loveliness newborn took on her bosom its repose, And slept and woke there night and morn, Lily herself, she bore the one Fair Lily, Sweeter, whiter, far more than she or others are: The Sun of Righteousness her Son, She was his morning star.
She gracious, he essential Grace, He was the fountain, she the rill: Her goodness to fulfill and Gladness, with proportioned pace He led her steps through good and ill. Christ’s mirror she of grace and love, Of beauty and of life and death: By hope and love and faith transfigured to His Likeness, ‘Dove, Spouse, Sister, Mother,’ Jesus saith. Christina Rossetti (1830-1894; also author of In the Bleak Midwinter)
What Sweeter Music
John Rutter (b 1945) Kristine Anderson - organ
17th-century English poet Robert Herrick’s What Sweeter Music employs beautifully sensual imagery to describe the wondrous effect of the Christmas event, while popular English composer John Rutter provides one of his most lush and expressive musical settings. What sweeter music can we bring Than a carol, for to sing The birth of this our heav’nly king? Awake the voice! Awake the string! Dark and dull night, fly hence away, And give the honor to this day That sees December turn’d to May. Why does the chilling winter’s morn Smile, like a field beset with corn? Or smell like a meadow newly shorn Thus on the sudden? Come and see The cause, why things thus fragrant be: ‘Tis he is born, whose quick’ning birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth, To heaven and the under-earth. We see him come, and know him ours, Who with his sunshine and his show’rs, Turns the patient ground to flow’rs. The darling of the world is come, And fit it is, we find a room To welcome him, to welcome him. The nobler part of all the house here, is the heart, Which we will give him; and bequeath This holly, and this ivy wreath, To do him honor; who’s our King, And Lord of all this reveling.
Frolocket ihr Vรถlker auf Erden
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Though born into a Jewish family, Mendelssohn and his siblings were later baptized into the German Lutheran church, for which the composer eventually wrote many sacred choral works. Frohlocket, ihr Vรถlker auf Erden (or Weinachten [Christmas]) is one of the Sechs Spruche (#1, Opus 79), a cycle of six memorable choral pieces covering the main festivals of the liturgical year. The cycle was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm IV for the Berlin Cathedral. Frohlocket, ihr Vรถlker auf Erden, Und preiset Gott! Der Heiland ist erschienen, Den der Herr Verheissen Er hat seine Gerechtigkeit, Der Welt offenbaret Halleluja! Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja, Halleluja! Frohlocket, ihr Volker auf Erden, Halleluja!
Rejoice and be glad, all ye people, Give praise to God! The Savior now appeareth, Whom the Lord hath promised. Lo! His glory and righteousness Shine forth to all nations, Rejoice and be glad all ye people, Halleluja!
Javier Busto (b 1949) Kristine Anderson, organ
Born in the Basque region of Spain, Javier Busto has gained international recognition as a contemporary choral conductor and composer, as evidenced by his sumptuous setting of Ave Maria. Ave Maria, gratia plena. Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail, Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
A Hymn to the Virgin
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) Quartet: Kara Huntley, Karen Swanson, Mike Grube, Chris Meierding
This selection commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the composer’s birth in 1913. Written in 1930 while the composer was still a student, the stunning A Hymn to the Virgin was one of Britten’s earliest published works. The English sections of the 13th century text are sung by the full chorus, while a solo quartet intones the Latin phrases in antiphonal response. Britten’s music skillfully combines a medieval modal flavor with lovely contemporary harmonies. Of one that is so fair and bright. Velut maris stella (As the star of the sea) Brighter than the day is light, Parens et puella: (Parent and child) I cry to thee, thou see to me, Lady pray thy Son for me, Tam pia, (So pious) That I may come to thee. Maria!
All this world was forlorn Eva peccatrice, (Eve sinful) Till our Lord was yborn De te genetrice. (From you, Mother) With ave it went away Darkest night, and comes the day Salutis; (Safety) The well springeth out of thee. Virtutis. (Power)
Lady, flow’r of ev’rything, Rose sine spina, (Rose without a thorn) Thou bare Jesu Heaven’s King, Gratia divina: (Divine Grace) Of all thou bearst the prize, Lady, queen of paradise Electa: (Selected) Maid mild, mother es Effecta. (are Doing) Effecta. (Doing)
Sing We Now of Christmas
Arr. Fred Prentice and Carol Barnett Kristine Anderson, piano
Sing We Now of Christmas is a lively and animated setting of a traditional French carol, known in French as Noël Nouvelet. Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel. Of our Lord and Savior, we the tidings tell. Sing we noel, for Christ the King is born. Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.
Angels from on high say, “Shepherds come and see. He is born in Bethlehem, a blessed Lamb for thee”. Sing we noel, for Christ the King is born. Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel. Shepherds found the child lying in a manger stall. Joseph standing by, and mother Mary mild. Sing we noel, for Christ the King is born. Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel. Magi oriental, journeyed from afar, They did come to greet Him, ‘neath the shining star. Glory to God, for Christ the King is born. Sing we now of Christmas, Sing we all noel!
Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006)
Daniel Pinkham was one of the most prolific and versatile American composers of the late 20th century, and spent his entire professional life in the Boston area. One of his numerous choral pieces written for Christmas, Christmas Eve (1956) presents an introspective setting of particularly poignant and timely verse by Harvard-based poet Robert Hillyer (1895-1961). The snow lies crisp beneath the stars, On roofs and on the ground. Late footsteps crunch along the paths, There is no other sound. So cold it is the roadside trees Snap in the rigid frost, A dreadful night to think on them, The homeless and the lost.
The dead sleep shelter’d in the tomb, The rich drink in the hall. The Virgin and the Holy Child Lie shivering in a stall.
Lane Johnson (b 1958) words by H.W. Longfellow
The immortal Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) remains one of the most popular of American poets, whose works include the famous Paul Revere’s Ride and The Song of Hiawatha. Snowflakes is his profound reflection on a the common winter occurrence of snowfall. The poem receives an exquisitely expressive setting by composer Lane Johnson, based in the Salt Lake City area. Out of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow Descends the snow. Even as our cloudy fancies take Suddenly shape in some divine expression Even as the troubled heart doth make In the white countenance confession The troubled sky reveals the grief it feels. This is the poem of the air, Slowly in silent syllables recorded; This is the secret of despair, Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded, Now whispered and revealed To wood and field.
The Darkest Midnight in December
Stephen Main (b 1970) Kristine Anderson, celeste
The traditional text of The Darkest Midnight in December is adapted from a poem of William Devereaux, an 18th-century Irish priest. According to composer Stephen Main, the music, especially the accompaniment by celeste, is meant to convey a sense of “mystery, innocence, and vulnerability”. A native of New York City, Main currently works in the San Francisco area. This lovely piece won an award in 2008 for best new Christmas carol in the composition contest of the Minneapolisbased professional chorus, VocalEssence.
The darkest midnight in December, no snow nor hail nor winter’s storm shall hinder us to remember the Babe that on this night was born.
No costly gifts can we present Him, no gold nor myrrh nor odors sweet; but if with our hearts we can content Him, we humbly lay them at His feet.
‘Twas but pure love that from above brought Him to save us from all harms; then let us sing and welcome Him, the God of Love in Mary’s arms.
With shepherds we are come to see this lovely Infant’s glorious charms; born of a maid, as prophets said, the God of Love in Mary’s arms.
Arr. Dale Warland (b 1932) Louise Baldwin, flute
Huron Carol (also known as ‘Twas In the Moon of Wintertime) could legitimately be called the first Canadian, or even North American, Christmas carol. In 1643, Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the Huron Indians in French Canada, penned the text in the Huron language and joined it with an old French folk song. Using the Huron name for God (“Gitchi Manitou”, or Great Spirit) and using other images familiar to that culture, Brebeuf instinctively practiced what modern theologians would call “contextualization”. After generations of oral transmission among the Huron people, it was later written down and translated into French and English.
‘Twas in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled, that mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead; Before their light the stars grew dim, And wond’ring hunters heard the hymn: Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born; in excelsis gloria. Within a lodge of broken bark the tender Babe was found, a ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round. But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high: in excelsis gloria. O children of the forest free, O sons of Manitou, The holy Child of earth and heav’n is born today for you. Come kneel before the radiant Boy, Who brings you beauty, peace, and joy. Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born; in excelsis gloria.
Winter Solstice Moon
David Frank Long (b 1966)
The winter solstice event has been celebrated for millennia across cultures as a rebirth of light and the forces of nature. Los Angeles-based composer David Long recognizes the event’s significance in Native American cultures in his Winter Solstice Moon, whose text and music were inspired by a Hopi tribal origin. Behold the winter solstice moon. Her face is bright and clear and new. She is a sign of hope, of things to come. Behold the winter solstice moon. Her face is bright and clear and new. She is a sign of peace! On this the darkest, coldest night the stars are burning, giving light. The moon, she beckons us.
The wheel of life has turned again, and here we stand among our friends, The owl, the tree, the rock, We all are one, the moon she told us so. We feel this simple truth tonight, as we are bathed in starry light. We all are one, one with all things. Behold, beneath the winter solstice moon, She is a sign of peace.
Jul, Jul, Strälande Jul
Gustaf Nordquist (1886-1949) arr. Dan Davison Chris Aagaard, oboe
From Sweden we offer this beloved carol, sometimes described as the Swedish Silent Night. First published in 1921, the original text included hopes for peace in light of the recent horrors of World War I. Dan Davison provides a delicate piano and oboe accompaniment to this Swedish traditional favorite. Jul, jul, strålande jul, glans över vita skogar, Himmelens kronor, med gnistrande lus, Glimmande bågar I alla guds hus, Psalm som är sjungen från tid till tid, Eviga längtan till lus och frid. Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Peace to the world is given. Hushed are the angels, so still is the night; Then in the East shone a heavenly light. Join in the chorus, His praises sing! Glory to God, to the newly born King.
Peace, Peace, bearer of peace, Men of good will, receive Him. Holiest of nights, O most wondrous of days; Shepherds and kings lift their voices of praise. Join in the chorus, His praises sing! Glory to God, to the newly born King. Peace, peace wonderful peace, Peace to the world is given.
Winter, Fire, and Snow
words by Macdara Woods, music by Branden Graham Arr. Frank Trujillo
(Notes from F. Trujillo, arranger) Several years ago I discovered this tune as performed by the Irish vocal group “Anuna” (melody by Brendan Graham). Intrigued by the song and the imagery of a welcoming fire in the midst of winter snow, I was inspired to arrange it for a cappella chorus. In the arrangement I have tried to portray both the serenity and tumult of winter weather, as well as the hope for the safe return of loved ones returning through the storm. In winter fire is beautiful, Beautiful like a song. In winter snow is beautiful, All of the winter long.
The day gets dark uneasily, Darker and darker still. And you are gone to Carnevale, And I feel the winter chill.
And you, little son, come safely home, Riding the tail of the wind. May you always come this safely home, In winter, fire, and snow.
But you, little son, come safely home, Riding the tail of the wind. May you always come this safely home, In winter, fire, and snow.
Traditional, arr. Steve Barnett (b 1952)
Chanukkah commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE. The festival is observed by lighting the eight candles of the Menorah, one light for each night of Chanukkah, to recall the miracle of the temple lamp which burned for eight days on only one day’s supply of oil. “S’vivon” is the Hebrew word for the four-sided top, commonly known in Yiddish as a “draydle”, which Jewish children traditionally play with during the season. On each face of the draydle is a Hebrew letter: N, G, H, Sh, which signify the first Hebrew letters in the words “neis gadol haya sham” (a great miracle happened there!). Minnesota composer Steve Barnett provides us with a very animated and lively version of this traditional Chanukkah tune. S’vivon, sov, sov, sov. Chanukkah hu chag tov. Chag simcha hu la’am Neis gadol haya sham.
Little dreidel spin, spin, spin. Chanukah is a joyous holiday. This happy holiday is for all people. A great miracle happened here.
Arr. Gregg Smith (b 1931)
The lasting qualities of the evergreen tree have inspired several “Tannenbaum” (technically, fir tree) songs in German over the centuries, the first known dating back to 1550. The most familiar lyrics were penned in 1824 by Leipzig organist Ernst Anschütz, and are traditionally sung to an old German folk tune. American composer/conductor Gregg Smith transforms the tune into a lyrical work of art in this arrangement written for his professional choir in the early 1960’s. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter! Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit, Nein auch im Winter wenn es schneit. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree How faithful are your leaves/needles! You're green not only in the summertime, But also in winter when it snows. O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree How faithful are your leaves/needles!
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum! Dein Kleid will mich was lehren: Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit. O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum! Das soll dein Kleid mich lehren.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree Your garb wants to teach me something: Your hope and durability Give comfort and strength at any time. O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, That is what your garb should teach me.
Deck the Hall
Welsh traditional carol, arr. John Rutter
In John Rutter’s rollicking version of the traditional and universally beloved Deck the Hall, unexpected key changes arrive so fast and furious, one wonders if the party guests have already enjoyed too much of the pleasures of the mead cup! Nonetheless, “heedless of the wind and weather”, Bellevue Chamber Chorus wishes you the most joyous and peaceful Christmas Visions, Winter Dreams!
Musical directors Conductor of collegiate, community, and church choirs in Minnesota, California, and the Seattle area for over twenty-five years, Dr. Fredrick Lokken is in his thirteenth season as music director and conductor of the Bellevue Chamber Chorus. Under his direction the Chorus has gained a growing reputation for exciting performances with diverse and innovative programming. He received his doctoral degree in choral conducting from the University of Washington, where he studied under Abraham Kaplan and Joan Catoni Conlon. He has done further study with renowned choral conductors Joseph Flummerfelt, Helmuth Rilling, and Jon Washburn, and spent several years in the Netherlands doing choral research and writing. Dr. Lokken also holds a degree in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin and sang with the professional Dale Warland Singers. In addition to his work with the Bellevue Chamber Chorus, Dr. Lokken is head of the Choral and Vocal Music program at Shoreline Community College, and is in frequent demand as a choral/vocal adjudicator throughout the Puget Sound region.
Ms. Wendy K. Moy is a conductor, soprano, and nonprofit founder from Washington State. This fall she assumed the post of Director of Choral Activities and Music Education at Connecticut College in New London. During the 2012-13 season, Ms. Moy held the positions of the Director of Choral Music at Tacoma Community College, Guest Music Director of the Bellevue Chamber Chorus, and Guest Conductor of the Seattle Women's Chorus. In the fall of 2011, Ms. Moy served as interim conductor of the Seattle Pacific University (SPU) Chamber Singers and directed them in their annual "Sacred Sounds of Christmas" at Benaroya Hall. A doctoral candidate in the University of Washington (UW) Conducting Program (Dr. Geoffrey Boers & Dr. Giselle Wyers), she has directed the UW Women's Choir and was a Pre-Doctoral Teaching Associate assisting in the undergraduate conducting and graduate choral literature courses. Her dissertation focuses on the culture of singing communities and the factors that contribute to successful choral organizations.
Bellevue Chamber Chorus Special Holiday Performance Highlights