New Piece – The Pure River Flows

I’ve been working on a new piece commissioned by Chris Crook at Saint Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Dallas.  I’m very happy with the way it turned out and can’t wait to hear them sing this!  More details to come.  Here’s the first page, although it doesn’t given any hint as to how wild the organ gets at the end:

And the text again:

We know not a voice of that River,
If vocal or silent it be,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows to no sea.

More deep than the seas is that River,
More full than their manifold tides,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows and abides.

Pure gold is the bed of that River
(The gold of that land is the best),
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows on at rest.

Oh goodly the banks of that River,
Oh goodly the fruits that they bear,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows and is fair.

For lo! on each bank of that River
The Tree of Life life-giving grows,
Where for ever and ever and ever
The Pure River flows.

– Christina Rossetti

“Everyone Sang” Performance This Weekend

This weekend is the Fall concert of BYU Singers and BYU Concert Choir.  BYU Singers will be performing “Everyone Sang” as part of their sets.  I’m so glad that this piece gets to be performed for the fourth and fifth time now by this remarkable ensemble.  A lot of people have been saying some very kind things about this piece.  What I’m most happy about is that people from all sorts of backgrounds and levels of choral experience have told me how much they enjoy it.  I’m glad I can satisfy the amateur as well as the professional.

You should also go to hear the magnificent Concert Choir and all the wonderful things they are performing, including “O Magnum Mysterium” by both Tomas Luis de Victoria and Ola Gjeilo.  It promises to be a beautiful night.

Here’s another piece that is being performed during that concert by BYU Singers.  “O Sapientia” by Bob Chilcott performed “flash-mob-style” in the Harold B. Lee Library:

Tenebrae at Brigham Young University

Back in May, after tour with BYU Singers was over, I had the chance to attend a concert in the tiny village of Mayfield, England where I heard one of the finest performances of my life.  The ensemble performing was Tenebrae, conducted by Nigel Short.  In the course of that evening they performed masterpieces like “The Evening Watch” by Holst, “Funeral Ikos” by Tavener, and “Requiem” by Howells.  It was one of the most in-tune and expressive performances I’ve ever heard.  That evening, I was filled musically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since I first purchased their Figure Humaine CD where they recorded choral works by Francis Poulenc. While they were performing in the “dry-as-a-bone” de Jong Concert Hall (a much less generous venue then they usually sing in), they absolutely filled the space.  It’s difficult to sing in Utah.  The high elevation, little oxygen and low humidity make it a challenge for residents, let alone visitors from a place like England.  Regardless, these incredible musicians stepped up to the plate and delivered with flying colors.

Their program was mostly Orthodox/Liturgical music from the great Russian masters, with a few contemporary pieces by Mealor and Pärt.  When I first saw how much Russian they were doing, I must admit that I was a bit let down.  I like Russian music, but I’m not exactly a die-hard fanatic.  However, the selections they chosen and the way that Nigel Short ordered and paced the program was stunning.  They made that literature compelling and riveting.  This choir performs Russian Orthodox music as if it was their own heritage.

In addition, two choirs from BYU, Concert Choir and Singers, were able to perform with Tenebrae.  It was a proud moment, as an alum of both those choirs, to see my friends singing along side my heros (well . . . they’re all my heros).  Nigel Short and Tenebrae were extremely gracious and generous to invite our choirs from BYU to join them, and our choirs were inspiring the way they rose to the occasion to perform so poised and professionally.  I was filled with pride (as well as a great deal of jealousy!).

This was their program:

Priidite, poklonimsya (All-Night Vigil) – Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Great Litany (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) – Serge Rachmaninoff

The Cherubic Hymn – Serge Rachmaninoff

Blazhen muzh (All-Night Vigil) – Serge Rachmaninoff

Izhe Heruvimi, op. 9, no. 7 – Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944)

I will love thee – Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1901)

Now Sleeps the Crimson Pedal – Paul Mealor (b. 1975)

Lady, When I behold the Roses Sprouting – Paul Mealor

Upon a Bank – Paul Mealor

A Spotless Rose – Paul Mealor

Salvator Mundi (with BYU Concert Choir) – Paul Mealor

– Intermission –

Bogoroditse Devo (with BYU Singers) – Serge Rachmaninoff

The Beatitudes – Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)

Locus iste – Paul Mealor

Ubi Caritas – Paul Mealor

Svete tihi – Pavel Chesnokov

Nÿne otpushchayeshi – Serge Rachmaninoff

Legend (The Crown of Roses) – Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Otche nash – Nikolay Kedrov (1871 – 1940)

Vzbrannoy voyevode (All-Night Vigil) – Serge Rachmaninoff

If you have the opportunity to hear them live, don’t think about it, JUST GO!  You will not regret it.  If they’re not close to you in proximity, you should purchase their recordings.  If you’re going to ACDA this spring in Dallas, they are performing two concerts.  Make them a priority.  I count down the days until their next performance.