Holidays World Tour

December 2008

Program Notes


¡Llega de Navidad!

Ramón Díaz (Dominican Republic, 1901-76),
arr. Juan Tony Guzmán (b. 1959)

Noël nouvelet


French carol, 
arr. Ian Humphris

Il est né, le divin Enfant


French carol, 
arr. J. David Moore

* * * * * *

O magnum mysterium


. P. da Palestrina
(Italy, c. 1525-1594)

Villancico de la Falta de Fe


Eduardo Falú
(Argentina, b. 1928)

Southern Cross

Stephen Leek
(Australia, b. 1959)

* * * * * *

Riu, riu, chiu:  El lobo rabioso


Anon. Spanish carol, 
ed. The King’s Singers

Hemantfrom Six Seasons


Vanraj Bhatia (India, b. 1927)

Amuworo ayi otu nwa


Christian Onyeji
(Nigeria, b. 1967)

* * * * * *

Immanúel oss í nátt


Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (Iceland, b. 1938)

Krismas dodzi vo

Robert Mawuena Kwami (South Africa, 
1954-2004;  Ghanaian carol)


Funky Dreidl


trad. Chanukah song, 
arr. Robert Applebaum (USA, b. 1941)


* * * * * *


Infant Joy

Rikuya Tekashima (Japan, b. 1964)

Carúl Fáilte

Séamas de Barra (Ireland, b. 1955)




A Sound of Angels

Christopher Tye (England, c. 1505-c. 1572)

The Wexford Carol

Traditional Irish, arr. James Yarbrough

Naperville North High School Madrigal Singers (Dec. 5 only)

Deck the Hall


trad. Welsh,
arr. John Rutter (b. 1945)

* * * * * *

Lo Yisa Goy


Hebrew folksong,
arr. Stacy Garrop 
(USA, b. 1969)

Nyathi Onyuol


Luo spiritual, arr. Enrico Oweggi (Kenya)

* * * * * *

Notre divin Maître

trad. Quebecois,
arr. Gilbert Patenaude (b. 1947)

L’hiver (“Winter” scene fromIsis)


Jean-Baptiste Lully (French, 1632-1687), ed. V. Meredith


* * * * * *


Venez, mes enfants

trad. Alsatian noël, arr. Donald Patriquin

Glory, glory, glory to the newborn King


spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan (USA, 1957-2003)

encore: Sistah Mary

arr. Rollo Dilworth


Fifteen years into this adventure called Chicago a cappella, we have much to celebrate.  First is that you are here!

The “in-person” concert, performed from people in the living presence of other people, is an experience like no other.  How does this happen?  You enter the concert space with your own life as a backdrop.  You arrive with hopes and expectations, disappointments and setbacks.  I would expect that you come wanting an experience of some combination of the following:  transcendence, ecstatic release, contemplation, escape, enjoyment, depth, stimulation, rest, repose, jubilation.  We come with music to offer you, with months of preparation under our belts, having worked with the ins and outs of the many languages on this concert, the musical details, the challenges of working in a group without a conductor to watch, and so on.

Together, we create the concert experience.  It can’t happen without you any more than without us.  We take that experience for granted sometimes, and I wanted to shine a little light on it in these notes because I feel it’s so valuable in our social fabric.

The more I have been to (and in) performances over the past year, the more I have been feeling, palpably, the remarkable energy that gets created in a concert.  At some point there truly is an energy that can be felt in the room—a transfer of energy is how it feels to me.  The energy mostly flows at first from the stage to the audience, as the performers make their initial offerings, if you will, to the audience, to set the mood and establish connection and credibility;  and then, if all is going well, it rolls from there, back and forth from the audience to the performers, in a virtuous circle, through applause, sighs of contentment, increased energy for the performers to feed on, a whoop or two.  My wife Sandy and I went to hear the Soweto Gospel Choir at College of DuPage a few weeks ago—it happened in a huge way there too, and unusually quickly.  The same thing happened this year when we saw Jersey Boys, as well as several other productions.  Worship services are sometimes like this, especially the more charismatic sort, but not often in more formal worship.  It’s in performance that this experience happens.  In the sense that the people who are gathered to witness the event help to create the event itself, music is also like sports.  (One significant difference between singing and sports:  nobody has yet to dump a cooler of water or champagne on me or Patrick or the singers after a particular “win.”  Please refrain from this sort of expression of enthusiasm today… we do not own the concert venue.)

The energy-experience of Chicago a cappella is a unique one.  We are a group like no other, singing music in combinations you won’t hear anywhere else, with a group of incredible soloists who are devoted to ensemble singing.  I don’t say that as a boast:  it is true.  As the founder, I initially wanted to make sure that the ensemble reflected my personality, but more and more it’s about the group and not about a particular person.  Even when a singer or two rotates in or out of the ensemble for a given concert, the particularly delicious CAC experience is generally the same.  In some ways it’s even more fun being in the audience with you than it is on stage, because I get the same impact that you do of the full ensemble.  Music Director Patrick Sinozich and I create a narrative weave, if you will, of music in different tempi and moods, to establish the “line” of the concert. The aim in our music programming, just as with a script or novel, is to direct the pulse and intensity of the emotion and thought that flows through the entire program, just as it does on a micro-level in each well-crafted song.  The order of songs really matters. Patrick makes sure that the performance is at its absolute best.  The singers bring their passion, skill, and commitment to the enterprise every time.  The result is a Chicago a cappella performance.

* * * * * * *

The joy of performance takes nothing away from the bliss of a world-class recording.  I can hardly contain my pride and joy at hearing the new Christmas a cappella album that we have just released with our superbly talented partners at Cedille Records.  Jim Ginsburg and Bill Maylone have labored for many months in post-production, just as the singers braved difficult recording-session circumstances, all to get the job done.  In some ways I would think that you come to a recording with many of the same hopes and expectations as you would a concert, though in general the listening experience with a CD is mostly a private one.  There is an intensity of the sound itself that can be absorbed alone, and on repeated listenings.  I have every expectation that this new album will quickly become one of your trusted favorites, perhaps even making it to your desert-island list of must-have recordings. 

Life moves on, and repertoire must be refreshed.  Four of the songs on today’s concert are on the new CD recording.  A few of the others are on our 2002 Holidays a cappella Live! release.  Most of the songs, however, are new to us.  I wanted to take you on a world tour of sorts, through seasonal music.  For the first time, we are singing in the Ewe language from Ghana.  Much of the new repertoire comes from a splendid new source, the World Carols for Choirs book from our trusted friends at Oxford University Press. Edited and compiled by Bob Chilcott (formerly of the King’s Singers, now a full-time “house” composer and arranger for Oxford) and Susan Knight, the visionary choral conductor from Newfoundland, this volume is a gem.  Early reports from rehearsals were that the new repertoire was a hit with the singers too, so we know you’ll be pleased.  Two other songs from this book are on our new CD but not this concert:  Rosephanye Powell’s Who is the baby? and Eleanor Daley’s The Huron Carol, which have become staples of the CAC repertoire since the Oxford book was first released in 2005. 

* * * * * * *

Now that we have a new administration coming to Washington, it is my fervent hope that our nation can regain its place of honor on the world stage. In our small way, we are sharing these songs from around the globe with you in order to give thanks for the remarkable riches of the world’s musical traditions.  Perhaps we can begin to understand and appreciate the wider world in a new way by taking a short time to discover how other peoples, with other histories and sensibilities and with other languages and images, can express joy and hope in ways all their own.  We may never know, for example, what it really feels like to give thanks for Jesus’ birth in Ghana, standing on the ground there, breathing the air there.  Yet the sounds and chords and syllables and words are coming to life here in Chicago this weekend, for all of us to embrace as we best are able.  If that can help to bring about world peace, then so be it.

Gracias, takk, merci, todah, and many other thanks for coming to hear us in person.  Please do visit with us after the concert, and enjoy the show.

—Jonathan Miller
Founder and Artistic Director


Ramón Díaz, arr. Guzmán:  ¡Llega de Navidad!

Two forms combine into one in this carol.  First is the villancico, which developed during the Spanish Renaissance;  traditionally, children would sing villancicos on Christmas Eve.  The song form made its way to most of the Spanish colonies in the New World.  Second is the Dominican Republic’s national dance, known as the merengue.  Ramón Díaz’s song uses traditional folk rhythms and harmonies, while the choral arrangement by Juan Tony Guzmán features percussion (guiro and tambora). 

Trad. French, arr. Ian Humphris:  Noël nouvelet

This traditional French carol-about-a-carol (a “noël” is a Christmas song or carol) has been delicately arranged by Ian Humphris, conductor of the National Westminster Choir in England. Humphris is a versatile composer and arranger. He became well known as the conductor of the famous singing group, the Linden Singers, appearing regularly on television and radio. As a member of the male quintet, the Baccholian Singers of Lon don, he has given recitals in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Poland, and many European and Scandinavian countries. Ian has written over 200 choral and orchestral arrangements, many published and recorded. For 20 years, he presented television and radio programs for schools on BBC and ITV, introducing and writing music for “Music Time” on BBC TV and “Music Workshop” and “Music Makers” on radio. 

arr. J. David Moore: Il est Né, le Divin Enfant    

This popular French carol has found a lively setting in the hands of J. David Moore, a St. Paul-based musician who makes his living as a choral conductor, singer, com poser, arranger, and music copyist. He holds degrees in conducting and composition from Florida State University and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Moore has also done many settings for Dare to Breathe, the Twin Cities-based vocal ensemble he founded. While living in Cincinnati, he founded the Village Waytes, the vocal en semble for which he created this arrangement. 

 * * * * *

G. P. da Palestrina:  O magnum mysterium

Chicago a cappella recorded this motet, and the Mass that Palestrina wrote using much of this same musical material, as our very first compact disc, back in 1996.  Palestrina was the well-known and much-praised Italian master of church music during the High Renaissance.  Starting around 1545, he composed many hundreds of pieces for the church, which are known for their careful treatment of dissonance;  his “Pope Marcellus Mass” is probably his best-known piece. 

The sentiment in this quietly and then exuberantly joyous poem, O magnum mysterium, has inspired composers, singers, and listeners for centuries.  Palestrina’s beautiful six-voice motet sets a poem which may be more familiar to you in the settings by Spanish Renaissance composer Tomás Luís de Victoria and, more recently, Morten Lauridsen.  Lovers of liturgy may know that the text was originally set in plainchant as the fourth responsory at the early-morning Matins service on Christmas Day. It sometimes happens—as it does here—that local practices in a congregation provide a composer with a slightly altered version of a text from what most other composers would be using.  Instead of the more familiar lines starting with “Beata virgo, cujus viscera…,” Palestrina’s version substitutes “Natum vidimus…”, meaning “We see him born…”  There is no focus on the Virgin Mary here, just the baby and the shepherds who found him.  The difference is likely due to a variant in the chant books at Santa Maria Maggiore, where Palestrina spent most of his career.  Palestrina’s version is also twice as long as Victoria’s because it has a second section, called in Latin the secunda pars;  this practice was common in the late Renaissance, allowing for extended polyphony in the liturgy where normally one would have found chant.  You may notice that when these “Natum vidimus” text returns in the secunda pars, the music from the prima pars returns too. 

Eduardo Falú:  Villancico de la Falta de Fe (For a World without Faith)

A world-renowned guitarist and composer, Eduardo Falú was born in El Galpón, Salta (Argentina) on July 7, 1923. His parents Juan and Fada were immigrants from Syria, and his artistic path began in their family milieu. In 1945 he began his professional career in Buenos Aires with the poet César Perdiguero, lyricist for several of his compositions. In 1948 Falú was exposed to a larger audience thanks to radio. He produced his first LP in 1951, and in 1959 the LP “Falú in Paris.” In 1963 he traveled to Japan and gave 40 concerts. In 1964 he toured the US, and in 1968 Spain, France and England.

Falú has composed more than 100 pieces, including this villancico.  The poem is by Luis Rosales Camacho (1910-92), a Spanish poet who, like many living through World War II, struggled with issues raised by Existentialism and religion.  Rosales tended to write poems stressing a simple faith in God as a worthy refuge from life’s confusion, and this villancico follows that emphasis, with a clear, joyful message and an unusual focus on the looks and personalities of the Wise Men. The texts of villancicos typically focus on the things that the newborn child needs, such as instruments so that the child may dance.  In this case the poem itself does not mention physical gifts to the Baby, but the setting itself is based on guitar motifs, so the baby who listens may be able to have some guitar music after all. 

Stephen Leek:  Southern Cross

An Australian, Stephen Leek is on the cutting edge of choral music Down Under.  He directs The Australian Voices and is a champion of new Australian compositions.  This is a piece he wrote himself, to lyrics by his longtime collaborator, lyricist Elizabeth Anne Williams.  Astronomers and sailors revere the Southern Cross, a formation of five stars only visible from a very southernly latitude.  The Southern Cross is an essential tool in navigating the southern waters and was featured prominently in the recent groundbreaking book 1421 by Gavin Menzies, who chronicled the astounding Chinese feat of circumnavigating the globe a few generations before Columbus.  (If you’re looking for an absorbing read during the holidays, you won’t be able to put that one down.)   Since it’s summer during December in Australia, the bright sound-world in this song evokes Christmas drenched in sunshine.  A wonderful touch is the poet’s wondering if the pointer star in the Southern Cross is also the Star of Bethlehem.

* * * * * *

Anon. Spanish carol:  Riu, riu, chiu

Back in the heyday of the Many American Touring Choirs—the 1950s and ‘60s—this tune leapt into the public imagination courtesy of the entrepreneurial musicologist and performer, Noah Greenberg.  Greenberg found the tune in the famous Uppsala print, which had been printed in Venice in 1556 and migrated to a Swedish library.  Greenberg made an edition easy for 20th-century singers to perform, and his group, the New York Pro Musica, performed the modern edition of this Renaissance carol around the country and recorded it on best-selling albums.  Scores of other groups have recorded his edition as well, and it has become a beloved part of many Christmas concerts.  The vigorous, masculine feel to the tune and text—about needing to keep “the wolf” (sin or Satan or harm) away from “our ewe,” meaning the Virgin Mary—gives the song a bravura quality not usually associated with Christmas carols.  The text is in a hybrid dialect.

So that we can say we are fully in the 21st century, we thought we’d mentioned that you can Google the YouTube version of the Monkees singing “Riu, riu, chiu” by candlelight, with Mickey Dolenz singing the solo. 

Vanraj Bhatia:  Hemant (Winter)

Vanraj Bhatia was born in Bombay, India, in 1927. After receiving his M.A. in 1949 from Elphinstone College, University of Bombay, he pursued his compositional studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then spent five years (1954-59) as a student of Nadia Boulanger. He served on the faculty of the University of Delhi from 1960-65. Since that time, he has been working as a freelance composer in Bombay. Bhatia is a prolific composer of music for feature films, incidental music for plays, television specials, advertisements, commercial film, and documentaries. He has received several prestigious awards for his work.

The Six Seasons for a cappella choir is based on 11th-century Sanskrit texts. Each of the Six Seasons is based on a rãg traditionally associated with that particular season. Rãgs are the cornerstone of melodic organization in classical Indian music. They have specific ascending and descending patterns deriving from a parent scale, which provide the basis for improvisation.

It is essential, when improvising on a rãg, that one sing the right pitches in the right order; other than that, one can slide, Interpolate other pitches, and do all sorts of other things vocally, as long as you “play by the rules.” Bhatia has rather cleverly given each of the four voice parts its own improvisation: each indeed plays by the rules, hitting the pitches of the Winter rãg in order, both ascending and descending. His accomplishment in this piece is to have all four voice parts do it with some rhythmic coherence. You will notice that the music doesn’t give you anything like a strong V-I cadence anywhere; that’s not part of the traditional Indian musical language. Rather, the music has its contrasts from changes in texture, dynamics, and rhythmic speed, just as would be the case for a soloist singing with sitar and tabla.

Christian Onyeji: Amuworo ayi otu nwa

This song is an expression of pure joy.  Its Nigerian composer, Christian Onyeji, is also a pia­nist, choreographer, and conductor. He is Senior Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Enugu State, where he researches African music and composes Nigerian art music.

This piece, in the Igbo language, was designed to fit the needs of modern Nigerian church worship.  The text, when sung in English, is likely familiar from Handel’s Messiah.  With elements of dance, polyrhythm, and texture typical of the Igbo sub-area, the piece has a driving and jubilant quality. The music is called a “Native Air,” a genre popular among Nigerian art-music lovers. After several refrains and short verses, the texture adds solo voices, with which it builds to a glorious, multi-layered ending.

* * * * * *

Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson:  Immanúel oss í nátt

We simply love this song.  Þorkell (Thorkell) Sigurbjörnsson is one of the leading lights in recent Icelandic music. He was trained in Reykjavik, where he now lives, and at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Thorkell has composed more than 200 works in all genres. Icelandic is a very pure form of Old Norse, and Iceland a nation of sophisticated language-connoisseurs. The vowels are pure and open, in a way they also are in Italian or Hebrew. 

This piece sets three verses of an old Icelandic text, written in 1742. These words have a surprising tenderness, not what one would first associate with a land of icy volcanoes. 

Robert M. Kwami:  Krismas dodzi vo

A South African, Robert Kwami was a professor of music at the University of Pretoria and director of the Center for Intercultural music there.  His early death left a gap among his colleagues worldwide.  He left more than 30 compositions and 70 publications.  He taught and lectured all over Europe and Africa. 

This song is in the Ewe language from eastern Ghana.  The angels in the text are proclaiming the birth of Jesus.  The actual angels’ song, using words from the Bible, draws on the Ghanaian dance style known as “highlife.”

Robert Applebaum:  Funky Dreidl

Bob Applebaum, composer and pianist, has been writing choral music prolifically in recent years.  A longtime Chicago resident, Bob recently relocated with his wife to northern California.  His gifts of harmony and texture are substantial.  He is capable of producing haunting melodies of his own, such as Shall I Compare Thee? (the final track on Chicago a cappella’s Shakespeare CD) and infusing new life into traditional melodies such as this one. 

If you thought you knew everything about the old dreidl song, think again.  Starting with a low riff that resembles a slap-bass funk line, this piece gradually builds over a few minutes to a full-blown groove.  Don’t forget to listen, even at the height of our funkification, for the words “made it out of clay.”

Applebaum explains that dreidl’s four faces are inscribed with the Hebrew letters “nun,” “gimel,” “heh,” and “shin.” In the game, each represents a particular gambling term related to Yiddish words:

Hebrew Yiddish                  English

nun         nischt                     nothing (i.e., take nothing)

gimel      gantz                      all (i.e., take all)

heh         halb                        half (i.e., take half)

shin        shtel                       put in (i.e., put two objects into the pot)

However, the letters have been reinterpreted in the context of the holiday as the first letters of the Hebrew words “Neis gadol hayah sham,” or “a great miracle happened there.”

* * * * * *

Rikuya Terashima:  Infant Joy

A composer in many classical genres and Japanese traditional instruments, Rikiya Terashima is also an accomplished pianist.  Since Japan has no tradition of Christmas carol composition and few poems suitable for setting as carols, the composer has set here a poem from William Blake’s collection Songs of Innocence.  Most of the carol is based on the pentatonic (five-note) scale, which conveys a wide-open sort of innocence;  the composer regards the themes in the poem as particularly relevant for a carol setting because of the universal appeal of joy, mercy, pity, peace, and love.

Séamas de Barra:   Carúl Fáilte (A Carol of Welcome)               

Born in Cork, Séamas de Barra is known primarily for his choral music.  In 1993 he was asked to write a new work for the 500th anniversary of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.  This carol was written especially for the Oxford World Carols book and has a text written by the composer himself.  He attempts in the lyrics to capture “something of the emotional immediacy and directness of expression characteristic of Irish devotional folk poetry.”  We are singing the English translation, which includes the words “Hodie Christus natus est,” or “Today Christ is born for us.”


trad. Welsh, arr. John Rutter:  Deck the hall

The words in this version are given by John Rutter as “traditional”—and therefore they may be unfamiliar to you!  It’s amazing how we can get so used to a particular version of a song that the “real” words end up sounding strange.  Such is the power of repetition.  Prior to this concert, I had never known that one of the verses is “Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel,” though it rhymes nicely with “carol.”  So laugh and quaff away!

Hebrew folksong, arr. Stacy Garrop:   Lo Yisa Goy

A composer creating music of great expressive power and masterful technical control, Stacy Garrop has received several awards, commissions, and grants, including the 2006/2007 Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s 2006/2007 Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, the 2005 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize, 2005 and 2001 Barlow Endowment commissions, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 1999–2000 First Hearing Composition Competition. Chicago a cappella commis­sioned two works from Stacy Garrop in 2007: a rollicking Hava Nagila setting for its concert called “Days of Awe and Rejoicing: Hidden Gems of Jewish Music,” as well as this more somber work, Lo Yisa Goy, for its “Holidays a cappella” performances.

The composer writes:

“Lo Yisa Goy is a prayer for peace. I remember singing this song as a little girl in Hebrew school and synagogue, always in the context (at least in my congregation) of praying for the state of Israel. I think we’re at a particular point in which people in a lot of different nations could use such a prayer. For this reason, you’ll hear the words in both Hebrew and English. In my research of previous versions of the melody, I discovered three variants for the tune; listen closely, and you’ll hear all three melodies incorporated into my piece.”

There is a lovely, unexpected (and perhaps intentional) reference to Handel’s Messiah at the very end of this piece, with the final line of English text being identical to the last line of Handel’s chorus “And the glory of the Lord.” For those who have sung Messiah, it can be a remarkable, even moving experience to hear the same text set in such a different way.

Luo spiritual, arr. Enrico Oweggi:   Nyathi Onyuol                    

This is a spiritual in the Luo language from the Nyanza province in western Kenya. The Luo are the second-largest and second-wealthiest tribe in Kenya and the tribe into which Barack Obama’s father was born. They traditionally live on the shores of Lake Victoria, which they considered sacred. Many of Kenya’s scientists and doctors come from the Luo tribe, which places a high value on education. This piece has been made famous by Muungano, the national choir of Kenya, founded by Boniface Mganga as an ecumenical, pan-Christian, multi-ethnic choir with singers from all of the tribes and linguistic traditions of his country. “Muungano” means “unity” in Kiswahili; the choir’s songs, like many contemporary African arts, fuse traditional and neo-traditional Af­rican tunes with exuberant and intense quasi-Western harmonic style. Staying true to our own traditions, Chicago a cappella features a vocal percussionist covering the drum part.

* * * * * * *

trad. Quebecois, arr. Gilbert Patenaude:  Notre divin Maître             

This lovely French-Canadian carol was originally a drinking song, but since the mid-1700s it has been associated in Canada (mostly in Quebec) with a religious Christmas text.  The arrangement by Gilbert Patenaude features strong contrasts of dynamics and mood.  There is usually one musical note per syllable of French, so the lyrics will go by quickly!

Jean-Baptiste Lully:   L’hiver (“Winter” scene from Isis)                  

How about a little heavenly shiver and intrigue to go with your Christmas carols?  This is the “winter scene” from the tragédie lyrique opera Isis, written by Jean-Baptiste Lully.  Lully was one of the great French musicians of the late 17th century.  Along with Rameau, he brought French music into the Baroque sensibility, with operas and songs of great expressive power.

This opera finds the nymph Io being unfaithful to her betrothed Hyerax, a mortal;  Io confesses that she has fallen in love with none other than Jupiter himself, king of the gods.  Juno, Jupiter’s wife, finds all this out and then demands as punishment that Io become her servant, to which Jupiter agrees.  Hyerax puts Io under the watch of his brother, Argus a giant with a hundred eyes;  when she tries to escape, she is banished by Juno to the four corners of the earth.  Finally, after the present scene where the chorus bewails the torture of snow and ice, Io is “promoted” to immortality as the Egyptian goddess Isis in a bargain where Jupiter promises never to look at another woman.  All ends with an Egyptian chorus singing Isis’s praises.  This drama makes the stresses of the December holidays in Chicago seem perhaps a little more manageable after all!

trad. Alsatian noël, arr. Donald Patriquin:   Venez, mes enfants            

For three decades Donald Patriquin taught various musical disciplines at McGill University in Montreal.  Now retired and living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, he is increasingly active as a performer, composer, arranger, and conductor.  Patriquin is known internationally for his choral and instrumental arrangements of folk music.  He has arranged several Canadian carols, of which this may be the most familiar.  This tune comes from the Alsatian region of France, which borders Germany and Switzerland;  in fact, those familiar with German carols will recognize this tune as “Ihr Kinderlein, kommet.”

* * * * * * *

Spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan:  Glory, glory, glory to the newborn King

Internationally renowned as a pianist, conductor, and arranger, the late Moses Hogan was recognized during his all-too-short lifetime as a leading force in promoting and preserving the African-American musical experience. Beginning in 1980, he focused his musical energy in the area of arranging spirituals, forming The New World Ensemble and the acclaimed Moses Hogan Chorale to preserve and extend the spiritual tradition. His contemporary settings of spirituals, original compositions, and other works have become staples in the repertoires of high school, college, church, community, and professional choirs worldwide; Chicago a cappella has recorded his blockbuster hit “Elijah Rock.”  Through his work with the Moses Hogan Singers, including concerts and recordings, as well as his participation in festivals and workshops as both clinician and guest conductor, Hogan was a major force in creating a growing interest in the African-American spiritual as a choral art form.  Hogan had a sense of the theatrical as well as the proper, and the careful balance between the two—meaning the balance between the traditional and the ecstatic—always comes through in his work.

Among Moses Hogan’s classic arrangements is this, based on “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Hogan has added some new words in a call-and-response opening section with a soloist. While the piece has only small variations among the repetitions of the familiar tune, the overall work has its characteristic Hogan feel in the way that the traditional material is placed in a sweeping context of great drama and excitement, ending—of course—with a big finish. 

* * * * * * *

FOR THE RECORD:   Nine works on this concert are available on Chicago a cappella CD recordings. 

Christmas A Cappella: Songs From Around the World includes “Noël nouvelet” (arr. Humphris); “Il est Né, le Divin Enfant” (arr. Moore); “Amuworo ayi out nwa” (Onyeji); “Lo Yisa Goy” (Garrop); and “Nyathi Onyuol” (Oweggi).
Holidays a cappella Live includes “Immanúel oss í nátt” (Sigurbjörnsson); “Funky Driedl” (Applebaum); and “Hemant” (Bhatia).
Palestrina: Music for the Christmas Season includes “O Magnum Mysterium” (Palestrina)

In addition, other works by several of tonight’s composers are also available:
Three Shakespeare settings by Robert Applebaum appear on Shall I Compare Thee?
Moses Hogan’s “Elijah Rock” appears on Go Down, Moses