A concert given by choirs of The University of Southern California Thorton School of Music last December was full of wonderful choral moments that I am excited to share here. We’re already seen the Concert Choir’s gospel take on “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” and here is Shawn Kirchner’s arrangement of Pat-A-Pan, sung by the Chamber Choir.
While most of this year’s music will be choral, we’re going to take a slight instrumental detour today to include the Annie Moses Band’s take on “What Child Is This.” If you’re not familiar with the six Wolaver siblings who make up the classical-crossover group (named after their late grandmother), this is a great introduction.
Last year, American premiere male choral groups Cantus and Chanticleer met up while on tour in Virginia for an evening at the pub. I’m not sure how many pints it took before they broke out into song but the results were so magnificent that a joint concert between the two groups became inevitable. It happened on October 3 and the program naturally included the piece that started the whole thing, Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.”
My day today is supposed to include snow- something we’ve not seen in these parts for several years. In light of the forecast, I thought we’d enjoy some lighter fare, provided by the fantastic Choir of Trinity College Cambridge conducted by Stephen Layton, arguably one of the best choral conductors in the world today.
There are a number of really beautiful advent hymns that seem to be falling further and further away from public knowledge or memory. I’ve been thinking of this more this year as I try to incorporate more advent music in my song choices for church this month. Today, for the second Sunday of advent where we light the candle of Joy, Howard Helvey’s surprisingly rousing arrangement of “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” published just over a year ago seems a fitting advent choice.
I love the carol “Gabriel’s Message” (also known as “The Angel Gabriel”) and this arrangement sung by British vocal group Voces8, who specialize in early music, is a beautiful one with some subtle but unexpected harmonies.
I have long been a great admirer of American composer Dan Forrest not only for his choral mastery but for the awareness and sensitivity he brings to writing accompaniments as an accompanist himself! It is highly unusual for a composer to include a personal statement of faith on his bio and it has long seemed to me that Forrest’s sincere belief in the texts he uses places his compositions apart. His setting of the English carol, “See Amidst The Winter Snow” published this year is ethereally wonderful.