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I. I Seek
ft. Juli Orlandini
This first secular liturgical moment recognizes that we all search for something transformative when we pursue a sacred experience. Connection to self, others, the world, something beyond... What is it you're looking for?
O, Do Not Move
An invitation to simply listen from English composer John Tavener, an Orthodox Christian who had a universalist approach to religion and whose music explored Eastern traditions and mysticism. He wrote this piece in 1990, the same year that he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic condition that affected his body’s connective tissue. He was quite sickly throughout his life, but thankfully was able to continue composing and hear his pieces performed around the world, including his most famous “Song for Athene” which was performed at the funeral of Princess Diana. He died at age 69 on November 12, 2013, ten years ago tomorrow. John Rutter said of Tavener that he had the very rare gift of being able to “bring an audience to a deep silence” and we hope that we can accomplish that with this short but powerful piece. O do not move, Listen to the gentle beginning. --Georgios Seferiades
Did Chesnokov ever intend for this piece to be interpreted from a secular perspective? I wager not. Is it in fact the exact opposite of his intention? Probably so. As an Imperial Russian composer, he wrote almost exclusively sacred works and only began writing secular works after the Russian Revolution in 1917 which led to the creation of the Soviet Union and the prohibition of all forms of religious art. But I still felt that this piece's translation really suited the meaning of this evening's concert: "Salvation is created in the midst of the Earth." Written in 1912 as a communion hymn based off of Psalm 74 and a Synodal Kievan chant melody, it ebbs and flows and reminds us that we can find ourselves here. Спасение coдeлaл еси посреде земли, Боже. Аллилуия. Salvation is created in the midst of the earth, O God. Alleluia.
II. I Wait, I Struggle
The Waiting Sky
ft. Jennifer Wang, Natalie Brennan, Robin Harwell, Michel Kennell, Katie Gleason, Brigid Becker, Kylie Jensen, Heather Lewis, Daniel Cooper, Braden Weitzel, Ross Tarpley, Joel Nesvadba, Andy Young
We performed this piece almost exactly a year ago at our first concert after the pandemic, "The Infinite Path." We loved it so much we wanted to bring it back since we felt that it really fit this concert's theme of watching, waiting, and being present in the moment. A meditative carol with text by Lucia Quinault that depicts a rural winter scene. The trees are bare, green fields where puddles hold the waiting sky. The cows move slowly, their breathing clouds the air as they walk by. What if the clouds smother the shining star? We’ll know it’s there. Warm light will fill the puddles, and the cows will stop and stare. The trees are bare, green fields where puddles hold the waiting sky.
This piece by English composer Will Todd is a set of variations in E minor based on the words "renew me." It conveys a sense of desperation to find the right path for ourselves. Me renovare. Renew me.
Tristis est anima mea
ft. Jenny Houghton, Adrienne Pedrotti Bingamon, Nooshin Wilson, Holt Skinner, Ross Tarpley, Stephen Maus
Gesualdo's chromatic language and incredible text painting bring to life a timeless feeling of utter despair and heartbreak. It sets text from the second responsory for Maundy Thursday with Jesus awaiting his fate in the Garden of Gethsemane. You can almost hear him working through the emotions of complete fear, grief, betrayal, loss. Entering into something unthinkable. Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem: Sustinete hic, et vigilate mecum. Nunc videbitis turbam, quæ circumdabit me. Vos fugam capietis, et ego vadam immolari pro vobis. Ecce appropinquat hora, et Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum. Vos fugam capietis, et ego vadam immolari pro vobis. My soul is sorrowful even unto death; stay you here, and watch with me. Now ye shall see a multitude, that will surround me. Ye shall run away, and I will go to be sacrificed for you. Behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Ye shall run away, and I will go to be sacrificed for you.
Peace On Earth
ft. Cassidy Wallace
This haunting carol by Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen was part of last year's world broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. Wallen was the first black woman to have a work featured in the BBC Proms and the first black woman commissioned by the Royal Opera House. She is one of the top 20 most performed living composers of classical music in the world. And snow falls down on me. Peace on earth. The night is dark and soft. Peace on earth. The lights that sparkle in the square, The smoke that lingers in the air. Peace on earth. And grace falls down on me. Peace on earth. The dark will turn aside. Peace on earth. The fires that burn in every hearth Do sing our praise of seasons past. Peace on earth.
III. I Step Out of My Body
ft. Robin Harwell
I step out of my body and try to look upon my life without judgment.
Earth Seen From Above
Music critic Alex Ross of the New Yorker described Meredith Monk by saying she was "as close to a complete performing artist as American culture offers." She is a singer, dancer, composer, director, and filmmaker whose groundbreaking exploration of the voice earned her the title of "one of the America's coolest composers." This piece was originally composed in 1987 but Monk later incorporated it into her opera, ATLAS, in 1991 which is loosely based on the life and writings of the explorer Alexandra David-Néel and presents the concept of travelling as a metaphor for spiritual quest and commitment to inner vision.
La Vallée des Cloches
ft. Joseph Choi
Maurice Ravel's "La Vallée des Cloches" ("Valley of the Bells") stands as a luminous jewel within his iconic five-movement piano suite, "Miroirs." This is the final piece in the suite which transports the listener to a dreamlike sonic landscape where Ravel masterfully captures the rich, resonant tones of bells, employing a wide range of pianistic techniques to evoke their diverse timbres. The composition unfolds with a contemplative, introspective atmosphere, inviting the audience to embark on a journey through the valleys of the mind. Ravel's meticulous attention to detail is evident in the delicate interplay of melodic fragments, harmonies, and subtle dynamic nuances. The result is a composition that is both technically demanding and emotionally profound.
Radiohead, arr. Geoff Lawson
We've loved getting to sing this gorgeous arrangement of one of Radiohead's most iconic songs, originally performed by VOCES8. Its unusual shuffling 3-3-4-3-3 rhythm has been the subject of much debate but Radiohead's drummer Phil Selway settled on a swung 4/4. Thom Yorke, Radiohead's singer, was musically inspired by Charles Mingus' song Freedom from 1962 and lyrically inspired by an exhibit of ancient Egyptian underworld art and by the idea of cyclical time found in Buddhism and discussed by Stephen Hawking. I jumped in the river, what did I see? Black-eyed angels swam with me. A moon full of stars and astral cars, And all the figures I used to see. All my lovers were there with me, All my past and futures. We all went to heaven in a little row boat. There was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.
IV. I Cherish All of My Experiences
I cherish all of my experiences, even the bad ones. They make me who I am.
Nana Forte is one of the few young Slovenian composers today who focuses on choral music and we're so glad she does because this piece is so powerful. In A minor, this piece doesn't use any accidentals at all, but there are moments where every white note is sung which is creates a real challenge to sing. We love the interplay of sigh motives being sung by different voices throughout the choir. Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis. Invocamus te, adoramus te, laudamus te, glorificamus te, O beata Trinitas. Sit nomen Domini benedictus ex hoc nunc, Et usque in sæculum. Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us. We call upon thee, we adore thee, we praise thee, we glorify thee, O holy Trinity. May the name of the Lord be blessed from this time forth Until forevermore.
ft. Erin Yousef, Natalie Brennan, Claudia Carroll, Angela Irving, Will Konitzer, Kylie Jensen, Braden Weitzel, Holt Skinner, Mark Istratie, Chris Tuggey, Eric Johnson, Stephen Maus
This motet is one of Josef Rheinberger's most well-known pieces, and with good reason. It is such a beautiful display of the power of choral music. He wrote the original at age 15 and then revised it at age 24. It is based the Road to Emmaus appearance from Luke 24:29. Bleib bei uns, Denn es will Abend werden, Und der Tag hat sich geneiget. Remain with us, Because it is about to be evening, And the day has drawn to a close.
I Would Be True
Undine Smith Moore
ft. Benedict Anwukah
This new edition of Moore's beautiful anthem originally published in 1979 features the heartfelt poetry of Howard A. Walter creatively set in an art-song style. It's a simple but powerful piece with a solo beautifully sung by Benedict Anwukah. I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who care; I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare! I would be friend of all, the foe, the friendless; I would be giving, and forget the gift; I would be humble, for I know my weakness; I would look up and laugh and love and lift!
V. I Am Ready
ft. Jennifer Wang
We're ready to keep going.
Sacred Water, Sacred Soil
ft. Heather Lewis, Chris Tuggey, Isaac Arterburn
What can we agree is sacred? What blesses us with vitality through no doing of our own? “Sacred Water, Sacred Soil” is a new hymn that seeks to find and celebrate the things we can all agree are sacred and needed for human thriving. This sweet, slow-moving piece has a few surprises like time signature changes and intervallic leaps in the lower voices. “Sacred Water, Sacred Soil” is excerpted from my secular liturgy “The Song Among Us.” --Moira Smiley Sacred water, sacred soil Sacred rest, sacred toil Sacred bond between all beings Sacred repair, sacred healing Sacred is our humility Sacred is our mystery Sacred birth, sacred decay Sacred night, sacred day Sacred ancestors, sacred longing Sacred sorrow, sacred belonging Sacred is our humility Sacred is our mystery
Bright Morning Stars
ft. Eric Johnson. Quartet: Ross Tarpley, Daniel Cooper, Joel Nesvadba, Andy Young
“Bright Morning Stars” is one of my favorite American folksongs. In addition to its beautiful words and gracefully arching phrases, I appreciate the song’s irregularity of meter on the final phrase of each verse. There’s something “alive” about song material that unfolds beyond the careful borders of symmetry. I learned “Bright Morning Stars” from my college roommate during a road trip as we shared songs in turn — the old-fashioned way of passing time. I had never heard it before, and I made everyone in the car sing it again and again in harmony. I especially liked the way the song linked the “external” imagery of dawn and morning stars to the corresponding “internal” movements of renewal that we all experience — “day a-breaking in my soul.” Years later, in the tender time following my mother’s untimely death, I wrote the original SATB setting for chorus, soloist, and piano. I made one addition to the original lyrics which ask, in turn, “O where are our dear fathers? O where are our dear mothers?” (The response: “They are down in the valley praying. They have gone to heaven shouting.”) I added a final verse, in which the long-departed father and mothers have a chance to ask: “O where are our dear children?” The response: “They’re upon the earth a-dancing.” I like the image of those who have passed on and those who are yet present upon the earth calling to each other “across eternity.” --Shawn Kirchner Bright morning stars are rising; Day is a-breaking in my soul. O where are our dear fathers? O where are our dear mothers? O where are our dear fathers? Day is a-breaking in my soul. They are down in the valley praying, They are down in the valley praying, They are down in the valley praying, Day is a-breaking in my soul. O where are our dear children? O where are our dear children? O where are our dear children? Day is a-breaking in my soul. They’re upon the earth dancing, They’re upon the earth dancing, They’re upon the earth dancing; Day is a-breaking in my soul. Bright morning stars are rising, Bright morning stars are rising, Bright morning stars are rising; Day is a-breaking in my soul.
Ring Out Wild Bells
ft. Juli Orlandini, Brigid Becker, Braden Weitzel, Isaac Arterburn
Jonathan Dove is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music, and his writing for choral forces is charged with intensity and beauty. This piece is taken from his seven-movement work The Passing of the Year which is dedicated to the memory of his mother and sets texts with moving directness and a beguiling sense of the seasons’ passing. O Earth, O Earth, return! Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring, happy bells across the snow. Ring out the old, ring in the new, The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the time; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in. Ring out old shapes of foul disease; Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. --Alfred Lord Tennyson
Thank you so much for coming!
If you enjoyed tonight's performance, please consider a donation so we can continue to provide moving, transcendent choral experiences to people of all beliefs and walks of life. Thank you!
Austin Cantorum is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions made through Fractured Atlas are tax-deductible. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated!
Sincere thanks to our donors and to those who made this event possible:
J. D. Burnett
Mary L. Dye
First English Lutheran Church
Michel and Bryan Kennell
Adrienne Pedrotti Bingamon