Thursday, March 5, 2015

Concert Review from ACDA 2015- National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain




On Friday at the 2015 ACDA National conference in Salt Lake City the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain, led by Ben Parry, preformed a wonderful program of mostly British works at Abravanel Hall.


The members of the Youth Chamber Choir


Here is the program they presented:

Sing Joyfully    William Byrd

The Lady Oriana    John Wilbye

Music, When Soft Voices Die    CHH Parry

Lay a Garland Upon her Hearse    Robert Pearsall

Coeles ascendit hodie    CV Stanford

No Longer Mourn for Me    R Vaughn Williams

A Hymn to the Virgin    B Britten

Let Beauty be Our Memorial    JAC Redford (American composer)

Words    Anders Edenroth (founder of the Real Group)

Flame    Ben Parry


This program was an absolute delight as the young singers, ranging from about 21 to 25, sang with clear tone and lively enthusiasm as they glided through a mini-history tour of British music. Parry's conducting was clear and encouraged an open, sweet and expressive sound from these highly talented young singers. The chamber choir is the top group of the organization, which numbers over 800 singers of various ages.I was especially impressed with their open, healthy posture and naturalness. I would not be surprised to learn that they have had extensive Alexander Technique training or something similar.

"Words" was a hit with the audience due to its clever text and the beatbox presentation. We heard Real Group sing this on Wednesday night to great effect.

Parry's own piece "Flame" was a real burner as it concluded with a unrelenting pulsing wall of fff sound. I'd like to hear this piece again in order to more fully grasp what the conductor/composer was striving to achieve.  I was not at all familiar with Ben Parry, yet I found a few folks who know him and they spoke very highly of his work. I highly agree, and would love to hear more from this choir and conductor/composer.




The choir has blogged a little bit from ACDA- you can read their comments on the ACDA experience here.

Fun Factoid-- Over the years, a number of singers from the organization have gone on to become Swingle Singers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Concert Review from ACDA 2015- Ansan City Chorale




From the 2015 ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City

Review of the Ansan City Choir, directed by Dr. Shin-Hwa Park


Friday the Ansan City Choir from South Korea, performed in Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City. Sporting colorful, flowing costumes, the choir entered and sang a delightfully eclectic program to an appreciative audience.


Sanctus          by Frank Martin

Agnus Dei     by Francis Poulenc

The Fisherman's Song   by  Ji-Hun Park

Arirang   traditional folk song arr. by Kyu-Yung Chin






The Martin and Poulenc were sung with high sensitivity by the choir, which numbers around forty singers. It was nice to hear some mid-twentieth century repertoire, as the focus so much lately at ACDA conferences has been so heavily on American works from about 1995 to the present.

The Fisherman's Song, in seven short movements, paints the passion and, at times, grief and struggle of generations of Korean fishermen and their families. Though the struggle at this difficult life is a big part of the story here, the music often shines brightly as the fishermen sail joyously on the sea and dream of catching epic numbers of fish. This was a highly evocative piece which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The concert concluded with the ubiquitous Arirang, yet this arrangement developed the old chestnut into a sort of theme and variations, all choreographed with imagination and supple movements by the graceful singers. When I saw Arirang on the program I winced a bit, having heard it a million times. But this was a very fresh new take, spinning out over ten minutes or so, and the audience ate it up like candy.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The 2015 ACDA Conference- Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir



Thursday at the 2015 ACDA National Conference held a spectacular performance by the Estonian Philharmonic Choir along with the Tallin Chamber Orchestra, both founded and  directed by Tonu Kaljuste.


Tonu Kaljuste




The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir


The choir consists of about 24 fully professional singers, while the orchestra is made up of about 22 string players. This is one of the absolute premiere choirs in the world, and their performance was intense, full of power yet also with amazing nuances. The pieces performed were:


Adam's Lament by Arvo Part

Carlo  by Brett Dean

Concerto per vocci e instrumenti

(plus a simple encore)


The centerpiece was "Carlo" by Australian composer/concert violist Brett Dean. This was powerful music, shifting from moments of sublime beauty to gut-wrenching dissonances, all reflecting the life of  the Italian madrigalist Carlo Gesualdo. The choir and string orchestra created dynamics from pppp to ffff and the music constantly shifted in direction, yet all the while creating its own logic over the arc of the composition. This performance was one of the highlights of the entire conference. 



Check out this interview with Dean (OMG, he's not a hot thirty years old. Why are we in America, including the choral arts lately, suffering from what I call the American Idol Syndrome? Here you better be young and pretty to get any attention as an instrumentalist, composer, etc.- and now I am stepping back down from the soapbox)


 

Here is Dean talking about the piece:

Historians to the present day still seem undecided as to the true merits of Gesualdo the composer, unable to separate the characteristics of his compositions, with their harmonic extremities and surprises and their textural complexities, from the infamy of Gesualdo the murderer. There are, no doubt, numerous contemporaries of his whose music would be just as worthy of the kind of attention now given to Gesualdo, composers such as Marenzio and Luzzaschi who didn’t fan the flame by butchering their spouses. But I believe that with Carlo Gesualdo one shouldn’t try to separate his music from his life and times. They are intrinsically interrelated. The texts of his later madrigals, thought to be written by Gesualdo himself, abound with references to love, death, guilt and self-pity. Combine this with the fact that I’ve always found Gesualdo’s vocal works in any case to be one of music’s great and most fascinating listening experiences and you have the premise of my piece. 
   


The Part was Part- a nice setup to go into the Dean.

The third piece on the program was a Swingle Singers-ish bit of light fluff. The musicians had a lot of fun with this small plate of tiramisu and the audience dug it.

At the finish the performers were rewarded with a thunderous standing ovation full of shouts and whistles. They rewarded us with an encore--a sweet, little Estonian lullaby. This simple, minimalist tune was a real ear-worm. The lullaby simply faded away into silence as the lil baby fell asleep, Kaljuste grinning knowingly to the audience.

Kaljuste is a masterful conductor, and his sly sense of humor appeared again at the end when he had the choir bow, the strings bow, and he himself bowed, of course. Then as the applause kept going forever he even lifted the scores from his podium and had them bow to the audience-- this was greeted with a big chuckle from the audience. I could listen to these folks FOREVER. Whoever within ACDA desired to get this group here and make it happen for ACDA is a genius- congrats!

More from the ACDA 2015 Conference- MusicSpoke reading session




MORE FROM THE 2015 ACDA CONFERENCE IN SALT LAKE CITY


Here is a blog I am sharing written by the fine composer/accompanist Kurt Knecht. He and Jennifer Rosenblatt are the founders of the new choral music distributor, MusicSpoke, a very composer-friendly organization with a refreshingly new business model. They held a reading session on Wednesday of the ACDA conference in Salt Lake City which, especially for a Wednesday, was very well attended. Below is Kurt's blog, or you can click here and go directly to it. Here' Kurt's blog entry:





Normally, choir directors tell me that when they attend a reading session, they feel lucky to find one usable piece of music. It's a gold mine when they find two usable pieces from a session.
After the MusicSpoke reading session at the National ACDA convention, two directors came up to me. One said, "I could easily use any piece on this reading session to great success with my group. Every piece is good." Another came to the booth later and said, "That was easily the strongest reading session I've attended."


I had the same reply for both of them. "Do you want to know why our reading session was so strong? I didn't pick any of the music. We put the power back in the hands of our composers and asked them what pieces they would like on the reading session."

Pete Eklund leading the session



A great deal of the success of the session was also because of the masterful job my friend Pete Eklund did in leading it. He got us through a lot of music very efficiently. He helped the readers through more difficult rhythmic passages. He said something interesting about each piece, and he acknowledged all of the composers. I couldn't have asked for a more professional and outstanding job. Many thanks, Pete!


My favorite part was just reading through the music of such fine composers together. Dale Trumbore and I even played a little impromptu piano duet on Winged Lullaby, and I haven't been able to get the tune out of my head since.


Here is a list of the pieces and links to performances on MusicSpoke. Please go check out the music and use it for your choirs.

Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One - Joseph G. Stephens

A Cradle Hymn - David von Kampen

Sky Flier - Josh Rist

Requiescat - Andrea Ramsey


Esa Enai - Kurt Knecht

Winged Lullaby - Dale Trumbore

Lux Aeterna - Saunder Choi

O Vos Omnes - Connor J. Koppin

Stars Over Snow - Timothy Tharaldson

Discovery - Christina Whitten Thomas

Stay - Garrett Hope

I Shall Return - Andrew Marshall

Sicut Cervus - David V. Montoya

Be Thou My Vision - Tinsley Silcox

Holy Mountain - Kile Smith

The Suffering Servant - Ryan Keebaugh


Kyrie - Nick Dahlquist

The Snow I Hated - Jordan Nelson

The Holly and the Ivy - Jason Horner

Monday, March 2, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference- Composers



Hi again,

I'm back in cold Chicago. The ACDA conference was epic, and I've already shared a bunch of things with you. Today, I am going to spotlight the new wave of composers who attended the conference and have opened up shop as independent publishers/distributors of their own music.

You can go visit my series of posts about this sort of thing by going here for the start of a seven-part series I did recently.


Here are composers, co-ops, and alternative distribution folks who had their own booths at ACDA 2015 in Salt Lake City. I hope you will click on the inks and learn more about these folks.

IMP- the collective that includes Jocelyn Hagen, Abbie Betinis, J David Moore, et al

Graphite (Tim Takach and many more represented)

Joan Szymko (Joan was really busy during the conference)

The Choral Composers Collective (Tim Banks, Ken Berg, John Michael Trotta)

Barlow Bradford

Catherine Dalton

Nancy Wertsch

Shawn Kirchner

See-a-Dot

MusicSpoke


I am now working with MusicSpoke, a brand new, composer-friendly distributor. We had a very successful reading session at the conference, led by Pete Eklund. Co-founder Kurt Knecht has up-and-coming young composers Dale Trumbore and Connor Koppin, and other talented composers onboard. You'll be seeing some other "name" established composers joining soon as well. Here are the pieces I currently have at MusicSpoke.


Also Northwest Choral Composers (Karen P. Thomas, Reg Unterseher, and John Muehleisen) were also present and handing out info, though they did not run a booth.

This is the wave of the future- a lot of composers who have decided that they can be their own best advocate for the music they write, especially if the piece in mind is not a three-minute EZ octavo. I predict we will see more and more high-end quality-music boutique composer booths in the coming years, especially by the time ACDA 2017 rolls around (to be held in Minneapolis).


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference- South Dakota Chorale



My review of the South Dakota Chorale performance at the 2015 ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City:

One of the new ideas at ACDA 2015 (there were many, both large and small--bravo to Tim Sharp and Mary Hopper) was NOT segregating the honors choirs from the rest of the performing ensembles. For instance, the HS honors choir (about 300 GREAT singers, led by the epic Andre Thomas in a very creative program, bravo, Andre) sang Saturday (in the Abravanel space) just before the great professional choir, the South Dakota Chorale, directed by Brian Schmidt. This means there was a giant crowd of family and a few siblings present to hear the HS singers (and not any talking or noise-thanks to you parents for that) but also many of the parents stayed and heard the South Dakota Chorale sing a very challenging program and seemed to really dig it. For many of those parental units this may have seemed to be very strange music, but I loved how so many of them stayed fully engaged in the music and the absolutely riveting performance by the Chorale. This was one of the highlight reel performances of ACDA's four days. In fact, I don't think I heard a more amazingly flawless program from any other choir in the four days at SLC.

The programming and pacing was perfect on many levels, the singing was incredibly rich and highly professional without ever sounding like a group of pros phoning in a performance, and Schmidt's conducting was what you hope for; wherein a conductor allows a piece and a choir to create magic in real time--the conductor functioning as a superbly talented facilitator in service to the performers, music, and audience--without ever succumbing to the messed-up ego of the uber-conductor. Hey, Lennie Bernstein, are you listenin'?







South Dakota Chorale



Brian  A. Schmidt



Here is the program they presented, entitled Sacred Songs of Life and Love:



Prayers of Kierkegaard (excerpts)

by Knut Nystedt (1915-2104)



Four Songs of Love

by Sven-David Sandstrom (b. 1942)



O Salutaris Hostia

by Eriks Esenwalds (b. 1977)



Nunc Dimittis

by Arvo Part



Bogoroditse Dyevo

by Arvo Part

(hey, I'm still on the  road, please excuse lack of diacritic marks on the above titles and names!!!)


Things I loved about this performance/presentation/ interpretation:

1) the repertoire was kick-ass, and while much of the rep was somewhat gnarly, the Esenvalds sweetened things up--it's placement in the Fibonacci 8/13 zone of the program was perfect. This tune was the audience favorite, of course, and that's just fine. Sopranos Natalie Campbell and Julianna Emanski were simply to die for. This was like a flourless dark chocolate cake paired with a bad-boy Cab Sav.

Here is the chorale singing the The Lakme Flower Duet- oops, I mean the Esenvalds:




2) The choir sang with an entirely different tone for the two Part pieces at the end. Especially in the Bogo Dyevo there was a far deeper, building from-the-bass-up Slavonic tone. This is something I really dig in great choirs- don't just give me one lush, awesome tonal world for an entire concert- create new tonal worlds for each piece, for each composer's placement in history, in national heritage, in their intentions, etc.

3) The Sandstrom was the most challenging to the ear and mind. To stay engaged with his sound-world and formal structure required great effort. I wondered if the audience could stay with the chorale and Sandstrom during this process- and they did!





Here is the group's brand new recording- go buy it, fools:





http://www.southdakotachorale.com/sacred-songs/



The duet artists on the Esenvalds--absolutely exquisite voices!

Natalie Campbell


Julianna Emanski












Male Choir Reading Session Rep from ACDA 2015 in Salt Lake City



Hi friends- if you weren't in Salt Lake City here is the reading session rep for male choirs:



Aya Ngena   (Alfred)

arr. by Ruth Morris Gray


The Vagabond  (BriLee)

by Mark Patterson


Goodbye, Then  (TimothyCTakach.com)

by Timothy Takach


Yonder Come Day  (Birnamwood)

by Craig Carnahan


Beati Quorum Via  (Alfred)

by Charles Stanford, arr. Russell Robinson


Wedding Qawwali  (earthsongs)

by A.R. Rahmann, arr. Ethan Sperry


I Want Jesus to Walk with Me  (Hinshaw)

Bryan Greer


The Wild Rover  (Boosey and Hawkes)

arr. Mark Sirrett


When Music Sounds  (Arete Music Imprints)

by Joseph Gregorio


Gao Shan Qing   (SBMP)

arr. Reed Riddle


Draw on, Sweet Night  (Caseyrule.com)

Casey Rule


Dulaman  (Hal Leonard)

arr. Desmond Earley


In the Bleak Mindwinter  (Colla Voce)

by Michael Joh Trotta


Go, Lovely Rose  (JEHMS)

Z. Randall Stroope


I'm Gonna Sing 'til the Spirit Moves in My Heart  (Hal Leonard)

Moses Hogan, arr. Peter Eklund





University Reading Session Rep from the 2015 ACDA Conference



Hi friends- if you weren't in Salt Lake City here is the reading session rep for college/university choirs:


Alleluia  (Jakerunestad.com)

by Jake Runestad


Burst Forth, My Tears  (Boosey and Hawkes)

by Michael Gilbertson


Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God  (Colla Voce)

by Richard Nance



Voices of Broken Hearts  (EC Schirmer)

by Steven Sametz


Juravit Dominus  (JEHMS)

by Michael Haydn, arr. Martin banner



Elegy for Matthew  (EC Schirmer)

by David Conte


Four Songs of Love, #1 and #3  (GE)

Sven David Sandstrom

Sven David Sandstrom




Ego Sum  (Walton)

by Sydney Guillaume



I Am  (G Schirmer)

by Dominick DiOrio



Psalm of Life  (G Schirmer)

by Craig Hella Johnson



Again  (Red Poppy/G Schirmer)

by David Lang


Fly Away I  (Caroline Shaw Editions)

by Caroline Shaw



The Troparion of Kassiani (Vanderbeek and Imrie)

by Ivan Moody



Beati Quoru Remissae  (JEHMS)

by Zachary Wadsworth



O Love Divine  (Thorpe)

by Georgie-Porgie Handel



Oh, Jerusalem in the Morning  (Hinshaw)

arr. Joseph Jennings

High School Reading Session repertoire at 2015 ACDA National Conference



Hi folks-- for those of you not attending the national conference in Salt Lake City here is the rep list from the High School Reading session here:


Moonlight and Rain (published by Pavane)

by Kevin Memley


Cantate Canticum Novum  (Hinshaw)

by Dan Forrest


O Vos Omnes  (Walton)

by David Dickau


The Human Heart  (Walton)

by Eric Barnum


Brainstorm  (Boosey and Hawkes)

by David Brunner


Kde Su Kravy Moje  (Associated/Hal Leonard)
(Where are my Cows?)

I am disappointed that this Slovak folk song never answers the question--where are my darned cows? This reminds me of being with my first son and driving up a winding road to the summit of the tallest mountain in the state of Arkansas (all of about 3,000 feet) and coming across a lone cow hiking up the mountain as well. This was a very strange sight. I suppose perhaps the cow's owner may have been singing this song that day, but maybe in English and accompanied by a banjo?

by H.A. Schimmerling







Peace  (Highgate)

by Stephen Chatman


Esta Tierra Pas   (Walton)
(This Land/Passage)

by Javier Busto

Javier Busto- I love this guys music- so lyrical



One May Morning  (Hal Leonard)

arr. Charlene Archibeque


You are the Fearless Rose  (Colla Voce)

by Z. Randall Stroope


You Better Mind  (Gentry)

ar. by Stacey Gibbs


I Sing Because I'm Happy  (Hal Leonard)

by Rolllo Doworth


Of Crows and Clusters  (Marks/Hal Leonard)

by Norman Dello Joio


Sing Joyfully Unto God  (Novello)

by William Byrd


Summertime  (Alfred)

arr. by Mark Hayes



Friday, February 27, 2015

ACDA 2015 Music In Worship Reading Session



Hey friends! Here is the Music In Worship reading session material we sang though this morning. It was a great session. Bravo to Terre Johnson. national R and S for Music in Worship.

Composers present who conducted their own piece: Terre Johnson, Philp Stopford, Mark Hayes, Howard Helvey, and Eric Nelson. Also Dan Forrest played the piano on his piece.

Noteworthy composers who blew us off because they were maybe eating crepes Suzette or drinking German beer: Johannes Brahms, Nathaniel Dett, Heinrich Schutz.


EVEN HERE (pub. Hinshaw)

by Mark Miller, lyrics by Laurie Zelman



MAGDALENA (G Schirmer, Robt Shaw Series)

by Johnny Brahms



CREATE IN ME (MorningStar)

by Terre Johnson



HALLELUJAH, MUNGU WA ISRAELI (MorningStar)

by Ekaie Reitan and Michael Burkhardt



LATE HAVE I LOVED YOU  (MusicSpoke) http://musicspoke.com/downloads/late-loved/

by Paul Carey


LISTEN TO THE LAMBS (G Schirmer)

by Nathaniel Dett (nice job of conducting by Tony Leach!)



WHAT SWEETER MUSIC  (Hal Leoanrd)

by Philip Stopford



PILGRIM SONG  (Oxford)

by Ryan Murphy


LORD MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT (GIA)

by M. Roger Holland II


CLEFT FOR ME  (Soundforth/Lorenz)

by Mark Hayes


CANTATE DOMINO  (Concordia)

by Hank Schutz



REJOICE ALL SPIRITS! (EC Schirmer)

by Howard Helvey



ARISE, MY SOUL, ARISE  (Beckenhorst)

by Dan Forrest



LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS  (Morningstar)

by Eric Nelson

Eric's piece was my favotire of the session, but really, everything was pretty great stuff!


So, now dear blog readers- would you consider taking a look at my music as a tiny payback for all the blogging I bring to you? If so, please visit paulcarey.net   And I am now working with the new kids on the block MusicSpoke, a really cool new company! Visit them  here