Christmas Concert 2015
Come one and all and celebrate the festive Christmas Season with us. The music of this concert comes from all over the world. From Russia, to Ireland, to the good ol’ USA. We have so many guests coming, as well, that you’ll have to see it to believe it.
We Three Kings
Russian Christmas Music
O Come, O Come
Hark, the Herald
By Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith
Arr. David T. Clydesdale
This instrumental arrangement of “Christmas Hymn” (originally recorded by Amy Grant and co-written by Grant and Michael W. Smith) is by David T. Clydesdale. It used to play as part of the ‘Lights of Winter’ show at Epcot in Walt Disney World. The combination of sound and light creates an amazing experience for Christmas.
A Christmas Album is the seventh album by Christian music singer Amy Grant, released in 1983. The release was Grant’s first of many Christmas albums. A Christmas Album featured well-known religious and secular standards alongside original songs.
Carol of the Three Kings
Arr. Paul H. Anderson
This exciting arrangement of 2 well-known Christmas songs was written by a member of the Murray Symphony, Paul Anderson.
Paul began playing music at a young age when his parents had him start taking piano lesson. In 1968, he started playing the trombone and have never stopped. Throughout his life, he’s performed in all sorts of groups, from marching band to full symphonies, from jazz and swing bands to brass chorales, from concert bands to pep bands. During all this, he’s always been fascinated on how music is put together. How do various composers achieve all those beautiful sounds? Eventually, he wondered if, based on a lifetime of listening and performing, he could compose music. A previous conductor offered some encouragement and help with his first composition. Since then, he’s composed several pieces for Murray Symphony. This one, Carol of the Three Kings, melds together three of his favorite Christmas songs.
“We Three Kings”, also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are” or “The Quest of the Magi”, is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., in 1857. He wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City. Many versions of this song have been composed, but it remains the most popular and most frequently sung Christmas carol today.
“Carol of the Bells” is a popular Christmas carol composed by Mykola Leontovych in 1904 with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky. The song is based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as “Shchedryk“. The song is recognized by a four-note ostinato motif. It has been arranged many times for different genres, styles of singing. The song is based on a traditional folk chant and is sung for a celebration known a Shchedrivky. It was associated with the coming New Year, which, in pre-Christian Ukraine, was originally celebrated with the coming of spring in April.
The original Ukrainian text tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful and bountiful year that the family will have. The title is derived from the Ukrainian word for “bountiful”. The period for the birth of animals and the return of swallows to Ukraine, however, does not correspond to the current calendar season of winter.
With the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine, and the adoption of the Julian calendar, the celebration of the New Year was moved from April to January, and the holiday with which the chant was originally associated became Malanka (Ukrainian: Щедрий вечір Shchedry vechir), the eve of the Julian New Year (the night of 13–14 January) in the Gregorian calendar
It was introduced to Western audiences by the Ukrainian National Chorus during its concert tour of Europe and the Americas, where it premiered in the United States on October 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall. A copyrighted English text was created by Peter Wilhousky in the 1930s, and since then it has been performed and sung during the Christmas season. Its initial popularity stemmed largely from Wilhousky’s ability to perform it to a wide audience in his role as arranger for the NBC Symphony Orchestra, trained especially for Arturo Toscanini. The song would later be assisted to further popularity by featuring in television advertisements for champagne. An alternate English version (“Ring, Christmas Bells”) featuring more Nativity-based lyrics, written by Minna Louise Hohman in 1947, is also common.
The original work was intended to be sung a cappella by mixed four-voice choir. Two other settings of the composition were also created by Leontovych: one for women’s choir (unaccompanied) and another for children’s choir with piano accompaniment. These are rarely performed or recorded.
Russian Christmas Music
By Alfred Reed
Arr. For orchestra by Clark McAlister
Russian Christmas Music Russian Christmas Music is a musical piece for symphonic band, written by Alfred Reed in 1944. It is one of the most popular and frequently performed pieces of concert band literature. Alfred Reed was a 23 year old staff arranger for the 529th Army Air Corps Band when he was called upon to create what has become a masterpiece of the wind literature. It was in 1944, when optimism was running high with the successful invasion of France and Belgium by the Allied forces. A holiday band concert was planned by the city of Denver to further promote Russian-American unity with premiers of new works from both countries. Roy Harris was placed in charge and planned the second movement of his Sixth Symphony (the “Abraham Lincoln Symphony”) to be the American work. The Russian work was to have been Prokofiev’s March, Op. 99, but Harris discovered that it had already been performed in the United States (by Reed’s own organization). With just 16 days until the concert, Harris assigned Reed, already working for Harris as an aid, to compose a new Russian work for the concert. Scouring the Corp’s music library, Reed found an authentic 16thcentury Russian Christmas Song “Carol of the Little Russian Children” to use for an introductory theme. Drawing on his investigations of Eastern Orthodox liturgical music for other thematic ideas, he completed the score of Russian Christmas Music in 11 days; copyists took another two days to prepare parts for rehearsal. The music was first performed on December 12, 1944, on a nationwide NBC broadcast. A concert performance was given in Denver two days later. In later years, Reed made minor changes to the instrumentation to suit a large ensemble, but today’s version is essentially the same as the original.
The song is also the official corps song of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps.
Although Russian Christmas Music consists of only one movement, it can be readily divided into four sections:
- The opening section, Carol of the Little Russian Children, is based on a 16th century Russian Christmas carol. It is slow throughout; after a quiet opening by the chimes, contrabass clarinet, and string bass, the clarinets carry the melody. The other voices join in, and the section ends with a series of chords.
- The Antiphonal Chant is faster and louder, with the melody initially carried by the trombones, horns, trumpets, and cornets. The woodwinds join in, and the music becomes more and more frenzied until the section ends loudly.
- The Village Song is much gentler by comparison; the English Horn has two solos, with soli in the flutes and a solo in the horns at the end of each. The piece enters a time signature of 6/4; the band plays a series of cantabile two-bar phrases back and forth between the woodwinds and brass, with the string bass playing long strings of eighth-notes, which are passed along to the bells. The song becomes quieter again, and the section ends with another English horn solo.
- The Cathedral Chorus starts quietly, as the end of Village Song, but a crescendo in the trombones and percussion brings the rest of the band in majestically. The music builds to a climax, but then backs down for a final chorale in the woodwinds; the sound builds once again, and the piece concludes with a thundering chorale marked by liberal use of the chimes and tam-tam as well as soaring horn counterpoint.
The piece was performed for the 2005 “Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square” concert arranged for full orchestra and choir (last section only), set as the accompaniment of a story revolving around a widowed man and his 8-year-old daughter in 1917 Siberia. The story was narrated by British actress Claire Bloom.
The American music editor and arranger, Clark McAlister, came to Miami in 1977 to further his studies under Frederick Fennell at the University of Miami. He joined the Florida Philharmonic as Assistant Conductor, Librarian, and Personnel Manager. He met the Galisons (Joan, Larry and Leon) in 1979 at a party given by the orchestra’s conductor, Emerson Buckley. In 1981, Clark McAlister began to work part-time at Kalmus Music Publishers, becoming full-time a year later. In 1998, Joan Galison retired as President of Kalmus. Leon Galison became President, Clark McAlister was named Vice-President, and Larry Galison became Chairman of the Board.
Alfred Reed Stated, “I am delighted to say that Clark McAlister’s transcription of this music, made under my supervision, meets with my unqualified approval and recommendation as having entered so closely into the letter and spirit of the original scoring as to be, truly believe, indistinguishable from my own approach, had I had the time and opportunity of preparing it myself, in response to Col. Arnald Gabriel’s kind offer of a commission for making this music available to orchestras as well as the wind bands for which it was originally conceived.”
White Christmas for vocal solo and Orchestra
Words and Music by Irving Berlin
Arranged by John Moss
White Christmas was written by Irving Berlin in 1940. He was spending the winter in a warm retreat. When Bing Crosby performed it on NBC in 1941 many of our troops were fighting in the warm Pacific and it became a poignant reminder to them of the life they left behind for a time.
According to the Guinness World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide. Other versions of the song, along with Bing Crosby’s, have sold over 150 million copies.
In 1942 it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song after it was featured in the musical Holiday Inn. It later became the title for another musical in 1954 which became the highest-grossing film of 1954.
John Moss (the arranger of the piece) was active nationwide as a composer, arranger, and orchestrator in a wide variety of musical styles and formats. As a composer, he had an extensive background creating original music for documentary, educational, and promotional films. As an arranger, he provided music for many live large-scale musical revues and production shows.
He taught at both public school (band and choir) and university (theory) levels in Michigan. John’s music is a major contribution to the band and orchestra catalog of educational music publisher Hal Leonard Corporation and has several hundred published works to his credit.
He also served as arranger for the Disney educational project “Magic Music Days,” where young performing musicians are introduced to the film scoring/recording process. He accepted numerous school band and orchestra commissions, and enjoyed writing for the Detroit Symphony Pops, the Canadian Brass, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. In 2004, John and three fellow orchestrators transcribed approximately 90 minutes of orchestral music by film composer John Williams for a Kennedy Center concert featuring the United States Marine Band, with Mr. Williams conducting.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Arranged by John Rutter
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a Christian hymn for Advent. The Latin text is first documented in Germany in 1710 and the tune most familiar in the English-speaking world has its origins in 15th Century France. It is in the style of plainchant, most recognizable as like the early monastic chants of monks in the Middle Ages.
This traditional Christmas hymn has been arranged by John Rutter, an English composer and conductor well known around the world for his many choral arrangements. He founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works).
This arrangement has been a pleasure to rehearse and perform. His arrangements are beautiful and showcase the lyrics.
In 2011 he was invited to compose an anthem for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, “This is The Day”.
Celtic Christmas Overture
Arranged by Daniel Semsen
Daniel Semsen has brilliantly married traditional Christmas carols with a vibrant contemporary sound.
The carols included in this piece include, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, The Wexford Carol and How Suddenly a Baby Cries.
Combining the passion of Celtic musical traditions and the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth, Season of Joy offers a spectacular collection of new and beloved seasonal songs that will perfectly complement any Christmas program. Acclaimed arranger/orchestrator Daniel Semsen has brilliantly married traditional Celtic instrumentation with a vibrant contemporary sound. Featuring four new songs by Keith and Kristyn Getty, this one-of-a-kind musical combines such Irish classics as The Wexford Carol with exciting new Celtic-inspired arrangements of Chris Tomlin’s Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) and Travis Cottrell’s Jesus Saves. A standout offering is the stunning overture, which features fiddles, penny whistles and bagpipes. No less than one dozen familiar carols artfully weave their way through the work, inviting your audience to fully join the celebration.
Even when he was 12 years old, Daniel Semsen knew that he was destined to write music for film. He got his start taking piano lessons as a young boy and playing alto sax in a small town in Northern California. In 2001, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Music Theory and Composition. After beginning his Master’s Degree in Commercial Music from Cal State L.A, Daniel became active working as a freelance composer and orchestrator for film and television. Daniel has worked on several films, including the SyFy movie “Fire and Ice”, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, “The Dictator”, the Disney DVD “101 Dalmatians (2-Disc Platinum Edition)”, and most recently the Mandalay Pictures/Sony Pictures film, “When the Game Stands Tall.” Additionally, he was a regular composer for the Emmy Award-winning TV series on PBS, “Travelscope” for several seasons. In 2013, Daniel orchestrated and conducted several pieces for the London Symphony Orchestra, and spent a week in London recording in the world-famous Studio A at Abbey Road.
In 2010, Daniel’s orchestrations were heard across the world during the Opening Ceremonies of the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, creating the orchestrations for music featuring artists Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, and Nikki Yanofsky.
When he is not composing and orchestrating for film and TV in Hollywood, Daniel is busy writing for the Choral Print Industry in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a Dove Award-winning choral arranger and orchestrator, working frequently with Travis Cottrell as well as publishing companies Lifway Music, Brentwood-Benson, Word Music, and Lillenas Music. Daniel has the incredible privilege to arrange and orchestrate music for his incredibly talented wife, Dove Award-nominated children’s music writer, Christy Semsen. They have collaborated on over half a dozen children’s musicals that have been performed around the world.
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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Arr. Mack Wilberg
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a Christmas carol that first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems, having been written by Charles Wesley. Wesley had requested and received slow and solemn music for his lyrics, not the joyful tune expected today. Moreover, Wesley’s original opening couplet is “Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings”
The popular version is the result of alterations by various hands, notably by Wesley’s co-worker George Whitefield who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one, and by Felix Mendelssohn. A hundred years after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems, in 1840, Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg‘s invention of the printing press, and it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that became the carol known today.
In 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted Felix Mendelssohn‘s secular music from Festgesang to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” written by Charles Wesley. Wesley envisioned the song being sung to the same tune as his song “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today“, and in some hymnals that tune is included for “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” along with the more popular Mendelssohn-Cummings tune.
Mack Wilberg (born in 1955 in Orangeville, Utah) is a composer, arranger, conductor, choral clinician and the current music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Wilberg was raised in Castle Dale, Utah, and served an LDS mission in South Korea where he was part of New Horizons, a vocal group made up of LDS missionaries.
Wilberg attended Brigham Young University (BYU) after finishing his missionary service, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1979. He concentrated on piano and composition. He then earned a master’s degree and a PhD in music from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
He is a former professor of music at BYU, where he directed the Men’s Chorus and Concert Choir. At BYU he was a member of the American Piano Quartet which included Paul Pollei, himself, and different other pianist at different times (Massimiliano Frani, Del Parkinson, Ronald Staheli, and Douglas Humphreys). This group toured throughout the world and commissioned many original works. Wilberg created many of their arrangements himself. His compositions and arrangements are performed and recorded by choral organizations throughout the world. In addition to the many compositions he has written for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, his works have been performed by such artists as Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, the King’s Singers, Audra McDonald, David Archuleta, Natalie Cole, Brian Stokes Mitchell and narrators Walter Cronkite and Claire Bloom.
He was the associate director of the choir and music director of the Temple Square Chorale for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from May 1999 until his appointment as director on March 28, 2008.
Text: Joseph Mohr
Music: Franz Gruber
Arr. Barlow Bradford
One of the best loved Christmas Hymns in the world. Written when the organ in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria had been eaten by rats and there was a need for something special for the Christmas Eve service. Father Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics and Franz Gruber, the schoolmaster and organist composed the melody to be accompanied by a guitar.
The original manuscript has been lost. However a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers at about 1820. It shows that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting.
The history and the story of this song is long and storied and has been repeated endlessly since then. It was translated into the English version we know today in 1859. It has also been translated into about 140 languages.
Barlow Bradford is an associate professor of choral studies at the University of Utah. Over the course of his extraordinary musical career, Dr. Barlow Bradford has distinguished himself as a conductor, composer, arranger, pianist, organist, and teacher. As an orchestral and choral conductor, he co-founded the Utah Chamber Artists in 1991 and has led that organization to international acclaim.
Dr. Bradford began winning competitions in organ and piano performance in his teens and went on to become a very accomplished musician, performer, composer, arranger and teacher.
This arrangement for choir and orchestra is beautiful and peaceful and allows the audience to join us on the last verse.