This is a piece that I’ve been working on for the last two years (Most of that was polishing, I swear I’m faster now). It’s an arrangement on the tune by H.R. Palmer with words by Robert Morris. Well, after years of polishing I had it performed by The Wasatch Chamber Choir (an ensemble I help conduct), and recorded with them too. I just sent it in to a music publisher. I hope they like it. Here’s a 45 second sample, a performance I conducted, along with pg 4 from the piece. Enjoy!
These last two concerts have been some of the most difficult I’ve ever been involved with. The first one was back in March, the BYU Singers 25th Anniversary Concert. Why was this so hard? Three words: Two hour show. That’s right 120 minutes of pure singing. We got a 5 to 10 minute intermission, but besides that it was guns blazing. And it wasn’t packed with easy filler music either. It was HARD music.
Armaque cum scuto
Un Soir de Neige (Poulenc)
I. De grande cuilliers de neige
II. La bonne neige
III. Bois meutri bois perdu
IV. La nuit le froid la solitude
Down to the River to Pray
Followers of the Lamb
Cantate Domino (Monteverdi)
Kyrie for Double Choir (Rheinberger)
Alleluja, Christus Resurrexit (Mawby)
Go Down Moses
Balm in Gilead
Ezekial Saw the Wheel
Si ch’io vorrei morire
Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine
And then with the Alumni of Singers we sang:
Sure on this Shining Night (Lauridson)
I Got Rhythm (arr. Staheli)
How Can I Keep from Singing (Staheli)
I mean, this thing was a beast! And there was no swapping out the way we usually do with Concert Choir. Usually we swap with Concert Choir and go back and forth between our sets, but we did not have that luxury this time. It was all us all the time.
It was really amazing doing this though. I felt like I had slain a dragon by the end. It felt so good singing all this amazing music, it was a wonderful feeling. Especially Leonardo. We really have never sung it better, even when it was stuck at the end and we were all tired. And singing with all the Alumni was amazing. We really are standing on their shoulders. They’ve helped build something amazing, and we’re all just enjoying the harvest. They’re heros in my book.
Next was our HUGE production for PBS, “The Pilgrim’s Journey Home,” We’ve been planning this one for three years. We were supposed to do it last year, but it ended up not happening. This year, however, it worked out great! Each ensemble (including the orchestra) had two solo pieces each. BYU Singers sang “Saints Bound for Heaven,” by Howard Helvey, and “I Feel Like I’m On My Journey Home,” by Dr. Staheli. The latter piece was really satisfying to sing. Even though we’ve been singing this the whole year I never tire of it. It’s message is really piercing, and the arrangement is just exquisite. When we sang it both nights, it was probably the best we’d ever sung all year. Both nights were amazing.
Then we had the combined numbers. Concert Choir and Singers did two combined pieces. We sang “Whither Goest Thou Pilgrim, Stranger?” by Dr. Staheli, and “Homeward Bound,” by Marta Keen. The later of which was a beautifully delicate setting that is really comforting. Men’s and Women’s Chorus had a combined piece with the orchestra, they sang “When Jonny Comes Marching Home.” The four choirs had a combined piece and sang “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?” by David Zabriske. Then, the entire group had three combined pieces at the end. “Pilgrim’s Song” by Ryan Murphy (now associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), “Come, Come Ye Saints,” by Leroy Robertson, and “Lead Kindly Light” by Mack Wilberg.
It was really interesting filming this, an entire night was dedicated to just filming the combined pieces without an audience. This is a huge deal! Ain’t no messin’ around. Some of my highlights from the weekend include the combined choirs doing the wave. We got really slap-happy tired between takes, and there was no audience so why not? Also, Having all the combined choirs in a circle was really quite an amazing sight. I can’t think of a more beautiful sight then over 450 singers all on the same stage, singing so beautifully and sharing the same message. It’s really unforgettable to see the circle close up and everyone contribute to something beyond us. Nothing can quite take the place of that.