Musings from the Artistic Director

Final season concert: Short Stories in Song

St. Martin’s Chamber Choir closes out its season in early June with “Short Stories in Song,” a concert in which each piece tells its own brief story, whether sad and poignant or jolly and comical.  Here’s the long-promised (well, for two weeks anyway) complete listing of the pieces in the concert (these are not in concert order, as I have not yet determined that):

·         Morris, R. O.            Blow away the morning dew
·         Vaughan Williams, R. The Unquiet Grave (SSA)
·         Vaughan Williams, R. Valiant for Truth
·         Holst, G.                 I love my love
·         Krueger, T.              Nelson’s Death and Victory
·         Krueger, MB            My Grandfather’s clock (TTBB)
·         Kodaly, Z.               Jesus and the Money-Changers
·         Jannson, M.             The Choirmaster’s Burial
·         Bantock, G.             The Leprehaun
·         Effinger, C.             No Mark
·         Bombardier, B.         Shiloh

A few notes:

·         The RVW “Valiant for Truth” is a setting of the ending of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” about Christian’s death and his entry into heaven (lots of trumpet fanfares at the end, simulated by the voices) 

·         My piece is an arrangement of a sailor song that I did in 2005 for our 200th Anniversary concert of the Battle of Trafalgar – rollicking good fun, but with a sad bit in the middle where Nelson dies (I transpose the tune to minor for that verse). 

·         MB’s arrangement of the folk song “My Grandfather’s Clock” was written for me when I was the director of the Men’s Choir at MSU-Denver – very creative with most voice parts singing mechanical ostinati on “tick, tock” and “whirrrrr, ching” while a soloist or one of the other parts sing the tune. 

·         The Jannson “The Choirmaster’s Burial” is an affective setting of a poem by Thomas Hardy that tells of a rural parish choirmaster who, after playing the funerals of everybody in the village, is denied music by the vicar at his own funeral because the weather is too cold; so later that evening, as the vicar is settling down to a sherry in the vicarage, he looks out and sees angels singing at the graveside of the choirmaster (the said angels being the women of the choir singing “Requiem aeternam,” etc. – while I love the setting, and it has so far made me cry every time we’ve rehearsed it, I am also conscious that the choirmaster in question would almost definitely have been very low church, and the singing of a Requiem at his gravesite would have been unthinkable – hopelessly papist!! J  Still, who’s to say that, even in low church parishes, when the angels show up they don’t sing in Latin?!)

·         Bantock’s “The Leprehaun” (his spelling) is a very playful little piece that, though it will come off as light and fluffy, inspiring sympathetic smiles, is actually the most difficult piece of the concert.  Devilishly tough, and featuring some very impressive choral effects including hammer and anvil (men singing a sort of rhythmic drone with the women banging away in the irregular pauses), laughter (rapid repeated chords building up and down through all eight parts, then disappearing in reverse order), and sprightly flitting to and fro. Given the amount of work we’re going to have to put in on it, I might make it the encore, too, so we get to make it worth our while (if you come, applaud enough to demand an encore!)

More notes next week.  Reserve tickets here, or (303) 298-1970.  The Sunday matinee is in a smaller venue, so tickets in advance might be a smart thing there.

·         Fri., June 3, 7:30pm, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church, Park Hill (E. Denver)
·         Sun., June 5, 3:00pm, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Cherry Hills Village (S. Denver)