Program Notes

Chicago, Chicago with Geoffrey Baer

I first set foot in this glorious city on August 30, 1971—my ninth
birthday—when our Chrysler Newport and our moving van pulled up
at a married-student-housing apartment in Hyde Park, my family’s first
home here. I remember getting a Chinese checkers game set as a present
that day. A year prior, we had moved from Brookline, Massachusetts to
Richmond, Indiana, for what had been a relatively bucolic year, during
which both of my parents were in graduate school. While they would continue in grad
school upon our arrival in Chicago, little else in our lives would display a similar continuity.
Playing Chinese checkers with my older sister and little brother that day, I had little inkling
of how completely my life would change as a result of this encounter with this tremendous
city.


* * * * * * *


The Chicago Children’s Choir and the Jewish Community Center were the first two
after-school places where I started to find what felt like peer groups. K.A.M. Isaiah Israel
Congregation would become the place for Sunday and Hebrew school, though being in
synagogue didn’t keep me from being bullied. It took a few more years to develop a thicker
skin.
It was in the Chicago Children’s Choir that I not only found what personally felt like my first
real “tribe” in the big city—that of fellow singers—but also developed the beginning of a
sense of belonging in a line (or many lines) of history. One of the songs found early on this
concert is “El-A-Noy,” a quaint and funny song about settling here in the 19th century. The
CCC was the first place I ever heard or sang it.


As years went by and I became more confident in my own skin and in my adopted city,
features about Chicago—“city things”—came to excite and embolden me. My parents gave
me a wide berth to explore, permission for which I am deeply grateful. I fell in love with
public transportation, riding on CTA “Supertransfers” all day on summer Sundays. I was
pleased that I could handle myself in a wide variety of situations. These included riding
the 47th Street bus without getting mugged; walking down Michigan Avenue all by myself
with the wind in my hair on a beautifully crisp fall afternoon; hanging out at Pacific Stereo
on Oak Street—where I would listen to dozens of different speakers, amps, tuners, and LP
needles, in the company of the most patient salesman a teenage boy could have known. (I
did eventually buy my first complete stereo system from him, at age 13, for what was my life’s
savings up to that point.)


I developed pride for living in a multi-racial city where people got along remarkably well.
I fell in love with our great buildings and the skyline that visually defines us to the rest of
the world. I took a course at the Chicago Architecture Foundation during my senior year in
high school, and I got my start as a singer right here with Chris Moore, Lena McLin, Max
Janowski and Richard Proulx. How can a singer be more blessed than that? I have now lived
in Chicago for 37 of my 56 years, and I feel lucky indeed to be here. (And although I would
not have admitted it while in high school or college: yes, the suburbs do count if you say
you’re from Chicago.)

* * * * * * *

We first created “Chicago, Chicago” in 2011. Then as now, it has been a joy to fall in love with
our amazing city all over again. This time, we are excited to add visual projections to further
illuminate the city’s history. We also are most fortunate to work with Geoffrey Baer, himself
a walking encyclopedia of Chicago. His insights have been a huge help in our rethinking of
this show for its current version.
Not much of the repertoire on this show is very high-brow. That’s our town for you. Even
with its fancy people, glorious restaurants and architecture, world-class theatre and classical
music and creature comforts, Chicago has always been a sort of rough-and-tumble place.
It’s a crossroads of trade and transportation, of people coming and going, always in flux.
Nine million people in a metropolitan area will naturally have differing skin colors, agendas,
traditions and values, and we aren’t going to agree on everything. That is part of why it is fun
to live in Chicago.
Thank you for being here. Enjoy the show.
—Jonathan Miller

 

 

 

 


SETTLING THE “GREAT WEST”
Trad. French-Canadian folksong, arr. Jonathan Miller : C’est l’aviron

“Michilimackinac” was the name given by local First Nation tribes to the area where
Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron—at the northern end of what is now called the state
of Michigan. It was a central jumping-off point for canoe trips further inland to Illinois,
Wisconsin and points west and south (such as Missouri). In use as early as the late 1600s,
this tune is said to have been the most popular song among the French traders who plied
the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River in pursuit of the fur trade. First Nation trappers
would trap beaver pelt, which was the top prize, valued primarily for use in hat-making.
In exchange for beaver pelt, the Native Americans received the goods they valued from
Europeans, such as brass kettles and iron tools.


The main point behind this song is that “it’s the paddle” that “takes us up.” The direction of
“up” refers to the trip from “lower Canada” (Toronto, Montreal, and similar points) to “upper
Canada” (the Great Lakes and beyond). The rhythm easily suggests a work song. If you’ve
ever paddled a canoe, see if you can imagine moving the paddle through water and air to the
beat of the song.


M’en revenant de la jolie Rochelle
recontré trios jolies demoiselles.

REFRAIN:
C’est l’aviron qui nous mène, qui nous mène
C’est l’aviron qui nous mène en haut.
J’ai recontré trios jolies demoiselles
J’ai point choisi, mai j’ai pris la plus belle.
Au bout d’cent lieues, ell’ me d’mandit à boire
Je l’ai menée auprès d’une fontaine.
J’l’y fit monter derrièr’ moi, sur ma selle
J’y fis cent lieues sans parler avec elle.
Quand ell’ fut là, ell’ ne voulut point boire
Je l’ai menée au logis de son père.
Quand ell’ fut là, ell’ buvait à pleins verres
À la Santé de son père et sa mère.
À la Santé de ses soeurs et ses frères.
À la Santé d’celui que son coeur aime.


While I was returning from lovely Rochelle town
I met three lovely ladies.


REFRAIN:
It’s the paddle that takes us,
It’s the paddle that takes us up.
I met three lovely ladies;
on the spot I chose the best.
After a hundred leagues, she asked me for a drink;
I led her to a nearby fountain.
I mounted her behind me on my saddle
I rode a hundred leagues without talking to her.
When we got there, she didn’t want to drink (the
water);
I led her to her father’s lodge.
When we got there, she drank full glasses (of
wine?)
to the health of her father and her mother.
…to the health of her sisters and brothers,
to the health of the one that her heart loves.
—trans. J. Miller


Trad. Ohio Valley folksong, arr. Dillon Bustin/Malcolm Dalglish/Grey Larsen,
ed. J. Miller: Shawneetown

This is a song about keelboats going up and down the Ohio River in the vicinity of far
southern Illinois. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, before the Illinois and Michigan Canal
opened up travel between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River, the main entry point to
Illinois was downstate. Folksinger Dillon Bustin gives most of the background to this song:
Shawneetown (also known as Shawnee Ferry) is a point on the Illinois side of the Ohio River,
just downriver from the junction with the Wabash. It was the first Anglo settlement on the
Ohio and, before 1830, was the major trade point between Native Americans and the new
settlers. Salt mines nearby provided the area’s main trading commodity, as the “rock salt” in
the song’s lyrics tell.


The easiest way to get to Shawneetown for trading was to float downstream. However, if one
were a trader, it was necessary to also get upstream to keep goods flowing in both directions.
Rafts and flatboats were almost impossible to get back upstream. By contrast, a strong
crew and “beech oars” would literally pull the keelboat back upstream, a process called
“bushwhacking” or “cordelling.” In the era before steam power and dams, the downstream
trip of a few weeks between Cincinnati and New Orleans was contrasted with the several
months that it took to get back. The beech oar was a long oar that helped on downstream
trips to guide the boat and keep it off mudslicks and snags.


As with C’est l’aviron, you couldn’t do the work of river-based trade without some terrific
paddles, so the men would have to paddle “hard on the beech oar.” Also, Emily Jaycox of the
Missouri Historical Society confirms that it was not unusual indeed for a man to have several
families in different places along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers!


Trad. “booster song,” arr. Augustus Zanzig: El-A-Noy
The Midwest would never have been settled without “boosters,” people whose job it was to
convince Easterners to bring their money, their families, and their talents and ambitions to
the “Great West.” One way that they spread the “gospel” of westward migration was through
songs, sort of like motivational pep talks to make you want to go somewhere new. This song
is both quaint and vigorous, causing the singer and listener to want to spring up and move
to El-A-Noy. (You are encouraged to pay special attention to the verse about the Queen of
Sheba visiting our state—it’s hilarious.) A fourth verse, added later, suggests in the chorus,
“Then move your family westward, bring all your girls and boys/ And cross at Shawnee Ferry
to the State of El-A-Noy.”


* * * * * * *


FIRST-WAVE IMMIGRANTS: BUILDING A CITY
Barry Moore, arr. Nick Page: City of Chicago

The Irish first came to Chicago in the 1830s and were associated early on with the building of
the I&M Canal (1836-1848). The potato crop failures that started in 1845 drove 1.5 million
Irish to emigrate, and Chicago was a popular destination. The journey was not easy, borne
as it was of the urgency to eat; Irish women often traveled in groups apart from the rest of
their families, in contrast to the more intact families of German, Jewish, Polish, and Italian
immigrants.



CIVIL WAR AND SLAVERY
Trad. African-American folksong, arr. Allen Koepke: Follow the Drinking Gourd
Historian Glennette Tilley Turner is the leading scholar of the Underground Railroad in
Illinois. She notes that Chicago was a hotbed of antislavery activity. Many routes on the
Underground Railroad originated in Illinois towns bordering the Mississippi and Ohio
Rivers; most of these ended in Chicago. Before the divisive Fugitive Slave Law was passed in
1850, Illinois was mostly hospitable to runaway slaves; after 1850, by contrast, slavecatchers
or “pattyrollers” (patrollers) would capture black people, even if they had certificates of
freedom.


Getting across the Ohio River is the topic of this well-known song. The coded language tells
slaves how to maintain a northern bearing: the “drinking gourd” in the chorus and every
verse is the Big Dipper, whose pointer stars lead you to the North Star. The verses describe
the journey that a runaway slave would take from Mobile, Alabama northward. The path
leads through northeastern Mississippi and Tennessee toward Paducah, Kentucky, where
the river crossing into Illinois would take place. The “old man” is reputedly a friendly boat
operator and former sailor named Peg Leg Joe, who would mark the final part of the path
with his “peg foot” and ferry slaves across the river to freedom. Allen Koepke’s vigorous
choral arrangement is texturally thick, perhaps a subtle reminder that the perilous journey
was through densely forested, unfamiliar territory.


Trad. folksong, arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw: Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
This haunting tune originated in England and has been all over the Atlantic seaboard, being
adopted and adapted by various ethnic and cultural groups. One version was popular during
the American Revolutionary War and begins with the lyrics “Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill
/ Who can blame me cryin’ my fill.” The tune also made it into an Irish version, spelled in
English “Shule Aroon”; all the versions talk of the sacrifices that must be made when men go
into war. This version by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw shows Alice Parker at her best, using
her typically understated technique to layer voice parts underneath the plaintive solo line.


* * * * * * *

Katherine Lee Bates and Samuel Ward, arr. Deke Sharon: America, the Beautiful

Katherine Lee Bates was a college professor from New England and a tremendously prolific
author and editor. On her way to teach a summer course at Colorado College in 1893,
she passed through Chicago, where she seems to have seen the “White City” of the great
Columbian Exposition. Upon her arrival in Colorado, she wrote the poem that would
become our unofficial second national anthem, which she originally titled “Pike’s Peak.”
Evidently, the impression that the White City made on her was the inspiration for her
mentioning “alabaster cities’ gleam,” a memorable and unusual line. The poem was not
originally paired with the now-famous music by Samuel Ward; common practice of the time
was to interchange lyrics with different tunes and vice versa. Ward’s music was originally a
hymn, and the now-classic text and tune were not published together until 1905.
The difficult journey of the Irish to Chicago is documented in this sad and moving song
by an Irish songwriter, Barry Moore, who hails from Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland.
Barry changed his name to Luka Bloom to get out of the shadow of his more famous singer
brother, Christy Moore. Luka has developed quite a following in his own right, and City of
Chicago is probably his best-known song. (You can see and hear more about Luka Bloom at
www.lukabloom.com.) The choral arrangement is by Boston’s Nick Page.


Johannes Brahms: Die Wollust in den Maien
Germans were an important early immigrant group to Chicago, taking prominent roles
especially on the North and Northwest Sides. Michael Diversey was a leading German
who was alderman of the Sixth Ward in the 1840s. Between 1850 and 1900, Germans
were the largest single ethnic group in Chicago. Not only did they make up one-sixth of
the population in 1850, but in 1900, a full 470,000 Chicago residents were either born in
Germany or had at least one parent who was. German was being taught in Chicago Public
Schools by 1870. The posh Germania Club in Lincoln Park was founded in 1865 by the city’s
German elite. Lincoln Square, anchored by the venerable Merz Apothecary, is the Chicago
neighborhood with the strongest German character at the present time.
Concerts and other musical activities serve to strengthen ethnic identity, and the Germans
were particularly strong in this area. Singing societies would have performed partsongs
much like this one by Brahms, composed with amateur singers in mind.


Die Wollust in den Maien,
die Zeit hat Freuden bracht.
die Blümlein mancherleien,
ein jeglichs nach sein’r G’stalt:
das sind die roten Röselein,
der Feyl, der grüne Klee;
von herzer Liebe scheiden, das tut weh.
Der Vögelein Gesange
die Zeit hat Freuden bracht,
ihr Lieb tät mich bezwingen,
freundlich sie zu mir sprach:
Sollt, schönes Lieb, ich fragen dich,
wollst fein berichten mich.
Genad mir, schöne Frauen, so sprach ich.
Nach manchem Seufzer schwere
komm ich wohl wieder dar,
nach Jammer und nach Leide
seh ich dein Äuglein klar.
Ich bitt dich, Auserwählte mein,
laß dir befohlen sein
das treue, junge Herze, das Herze mein.
—Johannes Brahms
Spring passion in May,
the season has brought great joy.
The flowers blossom,
each after its own shape:
These include the little red roses,
the violet and the green clover;
But they separate me from my dear love, which
makes me sad.
The songs of the little birds
in season bring me joy,
Because I was conquered by love
when she said to me:
“If, beautiful one, I were to ask of you,
would you tell me of your love?”
“Certainly, my dear, I’d tell you of my love:”
“After these many arduous
trials of misery and sorrow,
I will return to see
your sincere little eyes.
I ask you, my chosen one,
let yourself be influenced
By my young true heart.”
—trans. Courtesy of UC Davis Dept. of Music
Reprinted with permission

* * * * * * *
 

M. A. Sturges/George Schleiffarth, arr. J. Miller: The Song of the Ferris Wheel
As the Eiffel Tower is to France, the Ferris Wheel was to Chicago at the Columbian
Exposition—an iconic symbol of progress, ingenuity, and prosperity. It was also a point of
great civic pride. At least three different songs were written in honor of the Ferris Wheel.
This one is particularly charming, printed with a dashing photo of Mr. Ferris himself on the
front cover. The composer, one George Schleiffarth, also wrote the well-received comic opera
Rosita, a “south-of-the-border musical” that premiered in Chicago in 1884 and also had a
run in Brooklyn.


Fred Fisher, arr. Jonathan Miller: Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)
Frank Sinatra made the refrain of this song hugely popular. However, as is often the case
with older songs, most of the lyrics are packed into sections that we usually never hear. The
song has a racier character than we have become used to, as it sings over and over again of
people dancing anywhere and anytime they possibly can. We must also acknowledge that
the values of the time provided for a no-longer-used word in the “patter” section. (If anyone
knows what the phrase “cop a Flo” means, we would be grateful to hear it; our current guess
is that it refers to dancing, as a reference to “Flo” or Florenz Ziegfeld of the Follies.) True to
the archetype of the American Immigrant, songwriter Fred Fisher (1875-1942) was born in
Germany. He started his songwriting career in Chicago after moving here in 1900. He ended
up in New York City, creating a successful run of hits that included, of course, songs about
being Irish!
I got a gal, I got a pal,
I got a chance, I got a dance,
waiting for me.
I’m going to make, right to the lake,
There with the boys, in Illinois,
I want to be.
You may not care, for to be there,
But I declare, you’re not aware,
Just where to go.
When you’re in town, just call around,
Right there I’m found, really you ought to know:
CHORUS:
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town
Chicago, Chicago, I’ll show you around.
I love it!
Bet your bottom dollar
You lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago,
The town that Billy Sunday could not shut down.
I just want to say,
they do things
they don’t do on Broadway.
Say, they have the time, the time of their life.
I saw a man he danced with his wife in Chicago,
Chicago, my home town.
I got a maid, who’s not afraid
Powders her nose, puts on nice clothes,
She’ll get a beau.
Any old guy, over in Chi,
He’s got a chance, if he can dance,

He’ll cop a Flo.
Any hotel, that’s a bit swell,
Must have a band, right here on hand
Or else they’re cheap.
If you’ll invest, you’ll find a guest,
They’ll never rest, they’re dancing while they sleep.
CHORUS
“Patter”:
In “College Inn” you get the real beer in a glass,
In that college from Professors, you learn to jazz,
More colored people up in State Street you can see,
Than you’ll see in Louisiana, or Tennessee,
They’ve got the “Stock Yards” so I heard the people say,
I just got wind of it today.
—Fred Fisher, 1922
Reprinted with Permission




Carl Sandburg / Jerry J. Troxell: Prayers of Steel
We often hear people speaking with awe at Chicago’s skyscrapers, yet we rarely hear that awe
expressed in song. Carl Sandburg wrote a poignant ode to skyscrapers in his poem “Prayers
of Steel,” published in the groundbreaking collection Cornhuskers. That book earned
Sandburg the first of his three Pulitzer Prizes and contains the iconic poem “Chicago,” which
begins with the well-known line “City of the Big Shoulders…” The music created by Jerry
Troxell is a haunting, meditative work, considered his most perfect piece of music. Troxell
was a saxophonist and teacher of reeds, a professor at St. Louis University, church musician,
and gifted composer who spent time in Chicago following his graduate work at Sangamon
State (now U of I-Springfield). With its slightly angular character and stark harmonic style,
the composition perfectly illuminates and captures Sandburg’s awe at beholding the stark
urban beauty of Chicago’s new downtown area.
Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.
—Carl Sandburg, from Cornhuskers
Public Domain
For the record: Jerry J. Troxell’s “Prayers of Steel”
appears on Chicago a cappella’s CD Electric.
14 Chicago a cappella Chicago, Chicago 15

Trad. Mexican folksong, arr. Ramón Noble: Las Mañanitas
In Mexico, this tune is traditionally sung on birthdays and anniversaries and other festive
occasions. Versions of the song have been collected at many locations in both Mexico and
New Mexico. The song lyrics are sweet and tender; they even seem to have a slight reference
to the Biblical love-lyrics in the Song of Songs, where in the final chapter the poet says,
“Arise, my love; let us go into the garden.” This is the lush, glorious setting by Ramón Noble,
who with Amelia Hernández founded the famous choir of the Ballet Folklórico de México
and is one of the most important figures in Mexican choral music from the mid-20th century.
Estas son las mañanitas que cantaba el rey David
a las muchachas bonitas se las cantamos aquí,
Despierta mi bien despierta mira que ya amaneció.
Ya los pajarillos cantan la Luna ya se metió.
Si el sereno de la esquina me
quisiera hacer favor de apagar su
linternita mientras que pasa mi amor.
—Traditional Mexican Song
Public Domain


These are the little songs of the morning sung by
King David.
We sing them to all the pretty girls here.
Wake up, my love—awaken.
Look what has already risen.
The little birds are singing and the moon has
already set.
If the nightwatchman on the corner would like to
do me a favor, he could blow out the lantern while
my love passes by.
—Copyright 1993, JEHMS, INC.
Reprinted with permission


Thomas A. Dorsey, arr. Arnold Sevier: Precious Lord
While it brought tremendous economic opportunity to hundreds of thousands, The Great
Migration caused some conflicts within Chicago’s black community. “Old settlers” who had
been in Chicago as early as the 1840s were not thrilled at having to rub elbows with less
sophisticated recent arrivals, especially in church. This generational rift between educated
and working-class subgroups has played out in similar fashion with immigrant populations
in Chicago, from Chinese to Ukrainians and others; sometimes the educated elites come
later, but the conflict is still there.


As Michael Harris notes in The Rise of Gospel Blues, Thomas Andrew Dorsey’s genius in
shaping early gospel music lay in two areas. One was audible: namely, the musical fusion of
more raw blues elements with weightier, classically-leaning stylistic features. The other, less
blatantly audible but no less essential, was Dorsey’s recognition that the black Baptist church
needed to be able to appeal to both the more recent migrants to Chicago, whose more
ecstatic and charismatic styles constituted “storefront” worship, as well as the “old settlers”
who were used to hearing Bach and Mozart on Sunday morning.
Like spirituals, the best gospel music has the quality of “the moan” inside it. A text cannot
be overly cloying if is to be successful; it must have an inner quality of sincerity and human
struggle to balance the joyful, even ecstatic impulse that comes from the wish to praise and
rejoice. Dorsey’s Precious Lord meets all these criteria for success and then some. It was
created when Dorsey’s wife, Nettie Harper, died in childbirth in 1932, along with their infant
son; Dorsey was inconsolable and wrote the song in his grief. It was first recorded by the
Heavenly Gospel Singers in 1937 and was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s favorite song.
This arrangement by Arnold Sevier has traveled the world with countless choirs.


Spiritual, arr. Gwyneth Walker: This Train
After her training as a composer and teaching at Oberlin Conservatory, Gwyneth Walker
retired from academia and has been a full-time composer for more than thirty-five years.
With a strong theatrical sense, she has been writing solo vocal, choral, and instrumental
works that bring texts to life in unusual and striking ways. She employs unexpected and
effective elements to create maximum emotional effect.  For This Train, Walker brings
the lyrics’ images to vivid life. In addition to playing with the “ssssss” sound at the end of
the word “this,” she uses words like “stop,” “joker,” and “weary” as springboards for wordpainting.
The composer has also added a few new verses, noting:
“Additional lyrics have been added for contemporary relevance (“This train will stop at the
ghetto...and at the factory door”). And new musical sections (“If you reach up, reach up to
the sky...”) have been inserted to broaden the formal structure.”
Unusual musical devices used here include borrowings from traditional spirituals and the
flashier-sounding settings by arrangers like Dawson and Hogan.
For the record: Gwyneth Walker’s “This Train”
appears on Chicago a cappella’s CD Bound for Glory.


Lovie Austin, arr. Jonathan Miller: Chicago Bound Blues
The Great Migration of black Southerners to Chicago between World War I and 1970 was
one of the largest movements of a people in history. As historian James Grossman (one of
the editors of the Encyclopedia of Chicago) notes, the trains brought more than half a million
African-Americans during this period from the Deep South—Mississippi in particular—to
Chicago, where they sought economic alternatives to the Jim Crow realities of former slave
states. World War I sparked the early part of this migration. With a combination of white
soldiers being shipped to Europe, a new wartime demand for the manufactured goods made
here, and the American borders basically closed to immigration, northern factories were in
need of fresh labor. The Chicago Defender was the newspaper that told the black American
community where the jobs were, what the issues were in each major city, and so on.
Of course, Mississippi-style blues made it to Chicago and became a defining influence on
what would be known as Chicago blues. Twenty years before Muddy Waters came here, the
T.O.B.A. (Theatre Owners Bookers Association) black vaudeville circuit was the place where
singers like Bessie Smith would perform. A female musical giant in a field dominated by
male music directors, Lovie Austin was a gifted pianist and composer on the T.O.B.A. circuit.
Austin was the musical director at the Monogram Theater at 3453 South State Street. She
led her own acts including her own “Blues Serenaders,” who accompanied many of the great
singers of the age, including Ma Rainey and Ethel Waters.
In addition to her Chicago credits, Lovie Austin wrote some of the best-loved tunes for
Bessie Smith, who recorded them in New York. In 1923, Smith laid down a phenomenal
recording of Austin’s song, “Chicago Bound Blues.” The lyrics tell of a woman in the Deep
South who wants to go to Chicago but is not on the train; her man went north without
her, leaving her to die “down home” from the blues. The vocal chart here is a faithful
transcription of the Bessie Smith recording, which featured piano and clarinet.
16 Chicago a cappella Chicago, Chicago 17



Trad. Polish melody and lyrics, arr. Jacek Sykulski: Góralu, czy ci nie żal
Chicago’s Polish population is one of the world’s largest and most influential. As with the
Irish potato famine, the starvation in the Polish highlands drove many people to other
countries, and that situation is captured in these very lyrics. “Góralu, czy ci nie żal” is often
sung at large gatherings, banquets, and similar communal occasions. This beautiful setting
is by the prominent Polish choral conductor and arranger Jacek Sykulski, director of the
Poznań Boys’ Choir and a recipient of many local and national honors.
Góralu, wracaj do hal!
Góralu, czy ci nie żal
Odchodzić od stron ojczystych,
Świerkowych lasów i hal
I tych potoków srebrzystych?
Góralu, czy ci nie żal,
Góralu, wracaj do hal!
A góral na góry spoziera
I łzy rękawem ociera,
Bo góry porzucić trzeba,
Dla chleba, panie, dla chleba.
Góralu, czy ci nie żal …
A góral jak dziecko płacze:
Może już ich nie zobaczę;
I starych porzucić trzeba,
Dla chleba, panie, dla chleba.
Góralu, czy ci nie żal …
—Traditional Polish Song
Public Domain
Highlander, go back to the halls!
Highlander, do not you regret it
Move away from native locales,
Spruce forests and halls
And those silvery streams?
Highlander, are you sorry?
Highlander, go back to the halls!
And the mountaineer looks at the mountains
And wipes tears with the sleeve,
Because mountains have to be abandoned,
For bread, sir, for bread.
Highlander, are you sorry? …
A highlander cries like a child:
Maybe I will not see them again;
And the old ones must be abandoned,
For bread, sir, for bread.
Highlander, are you sorry? …
—Translation by Jonathan Miller
Reprinted with permission


Robert Johnson, arr. Patrick Sinozich: Sweet Home Chicago
Robert Johnson is known by blues aficionados as one of the best in the business. He recorded
this song in November 1936 in San Antonio. His hit shares features many lyrics with
“Kokomo Blues” and has the same tune as “Honey Dripper Blues.” In addition to the nowlegendary
recording by the Blues Brothers, bluesmen B. B. King and Buddy Guy performed
it in the East Room of the White House in 2012, with President Barack Obama singing along
for the first verse.


Albert von Tilzer, arr. Anne Heider: Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Have you ever heard all the lyrics to this song? As with so many tunes from the early 20th
century, this one usually has the first part cut off. In this case, when you do that, you miss
the best part of the story! Katie Casey was a die-hard baseball fan… she spent every last
dime (or “soul,” an old-fashioned word for a nickel) on her favorite pastime. Anne Heider
has created a fun and fetching arrangement here, and since she has sung alto for so many
years it’s not surprising that the altos (and even the basses) get the melody now and then. We
even get to follow the umpire’s count at the end.