H O R I Z O N S
Eric Whitacre has become one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. Many of Whitacre’s works have entered the standard choral repertoire, and he has received the Richard Rodgers Award for most promising musical theater composer. Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine is a collaboration between Whitacre and the poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, which poses the question: what would it sound like if Leonardo DaVinci were dreaming? And more specifically, what kind of music would fill the mind of such a genius? The drama tells the story of Leonardo being tormented by the calling of the air, tortured to such degree that his only recourse was to solve the riddle and figure out how to fly.
Horizons was written by the Cape Town-based composer, Peter Louis Van Dijk, at the request of the King’s Singers, for the group’s 1995 South African tour, and it was commissioned for the singers by the Creative Arts Foundation of South Africa. In a cave, somewhere in the Western Cape region of South Africa, is a well documented San (Bushman) painting of a Dutch (or perhaps English) ship resplendent with ﬂags and sails, rounding the cape. The painting dates back to the early 1700s and serves as a poignant reminder of the incredible powers of observation of a now virtually extinct people. Sadly, the very people the San saw as “gods”—certainly in terms of stature and relative opulence—were to become their executioners (with the help of other black tribes). Physically small, the San described their larger neighbors as “animals without hooves” and were often mistakenly regarded as cowardly due to their non-confrontational approach to conﬂict. To the San, the eland (a large antelope) represented more than just food and took on an almost supernatural signiﬁcance, while the rain was seen, supernaturally, to be either male or female (either rain-cow or bull), depending on its intensity. This lullaby-like song, filled with sounds of the African veldt, includes images of the natural world: the sky, the eland (a large antelope), the hunting for food--and then the arrival of the European ship and the destruction that follows.
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford was born in Dublin in 1852, and studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge. By 1873 he had become organist of Trinity College and conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, which he built into a major choral and orchestral body (later he was also conductor of the London Bach Choir, the Leeds Philharmonic Society and the Leeds Festival). He was appointed professor of composition and orchestral playing at the Royal College of Music from its opening in 1883 and professor of music at Cambridge in 1887, holding both posts until his death. In addition to his prodigious compositional output, Stanford’s great influence on several generations of British composers as composition teacher at the RCM is one of his most important legacies – among his many students were Vaughan Williams, Holst, Coleridge-Taylor, Howells and John Ireland. Along with Elgar and Parry, he was responsible for the late-19th century ‘renaissance’ in British music, achieving special stature as a composer of sacred choral music. The Blue Bird is a setting of the lovely poem by Mary Coleridge, great niece of the more famous English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Stanford, known primarily for his Anglican church music, captures the transcendent beauty of that moment in time when a blue bird ascends above the stillness, the coldness, of the lake.
Canadian composer David MacIntyre’s setting of Ave Maria was commissioned by the Canadian Music Centre in 1994 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The commission came at a time when the composer was deep in research for a new opera about reported paranormal spiritual events occurring in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. There were reports of daily visitations of the Virgin Mary to a group of children and young adults who lived in a small village in the country-side. The reports became so numerous and convincing that investigative teams were supposedly sent to the village to look into the reports of the children and young adults who were running each day to the hills in anticipation of seeing the vision. MacIntyre, in his research, was struck by the celebratory, exultant nature of these visitations and the necessity of connecting with the feminine, maternal nature of the divine. Rather than setting the entire ‘Ave Maria’ text, the composer simply uses the words ‘Ave Maria’ as the repeated chant or mantra of the children, to express the hope and anticipation of the vision and the connection with the feminine divine.
Born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Christine Donkin is an award-winning Canadian composer, currently living in Ottawa. Her setting of the Magnificat is written for solo soprano (or mezzo) and women’s choir, and was originally intended to be performed in a prayer labyrinth. The soloist sings in a chant-based style, with the choir divided in ten individual parts which create a halo of sound around the soloist.
English composer John Tavener converted to the Orthodox Church in 1977, and his connection with that tradition has inspired almost all of his music since. Tavener has remarked that for him the act of composing is first a form of communication with the creator (a prayer), and only secondly a form of communication with his audience. In his music Tavener either uses existing chants or draws upon the characteristics of Russian or Byzantine chant in constructing melodic lines. Song for Athene was composed in 1993, on texts from the Orthodox Funeral Service and from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The work was written in memory of Athene Hariades, who died tragically in March 1993. Her inner and outer beauty was reflected in her love of acting, poetry, music and of the Orthodox Church. Song for Athene became well known after it was performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.
Gustav Theodore Holst was an English composer of Latvian, Swedish and Russian extraction, whose parents and grandfather were also musicians. Having studied at the Royal College of Music in London with C.V. Stanford, his early work was influenced by Ravel, Grieg, Richard Strauss, and fellow student Ralph Vaughan Williams, but most of his music is highly original, with influences from Hindu spiritualism and English folk tunes. The Ave Maria for eight-part double women’s chorus dates from 1900. This was his first important choral work, and his first composition to attract public attention. Holst dedicated the piece “to the memory of my mother” – she had died when he was eight years old.
Bernard Hughes studied Music at Oxford University and was awarded a PhD in Composition by the University of London. His music has been performed by ensembles including the BBC Singers, the New London Children's Choir, and the Cavendish Singers at major venues in the UK and overseas. Hughes has had several pieces performed and broadcast by the internationally-renowned BBC Singers, including the radio-opera The Death of Balder. A major commission for the BBC Singers, A Medieval Bestiary, was premiered and broadcast in January 2011. Recent works include a chamber opera on the short stories of Saki and the children’s opera Chincha-Chancha Cooroo, based on a Bengali animal fable, Bernard & Isabel, a family-concert piece for narrator and orchestra, and Revelation Window. The latter work also won the Simon Carrington Singers Composition Competition in 2011. Premieres in 2012 include a choral work for the Three Choirs Festival and the orchestral work Anaphora. I Sing of Love was commissioned by Seattle Pro Musica, with generous support from Lynn and Brian Grant.
The composer writes:
“I Sing of Love is based on three texts from different religious traditions united by the theme of love: an Old Testament text from the Song of Solomon, a devotional poem by the Islamic mystic Rumi (1207-1273) and Christian verses from the New Testament. These three passages are separated by three meditative sections using simply the words ‘I sing of love’ repeated as a mantra, which is how the piece starts, the voices introduced one at a time in overlapping phrases.
The Old Testament section revolves around a refrain: ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away’, which is heard three times, the third a dramatic climax. The second meditation separates the choir into two halves, one insistently repeating the same chord, the other moving in a slow chorale against that chord. The Rumi section is an anaphora, each successive line beginning with the words ‘through love,’ which passes through the parts, and building to the main climax of the piece.
The third meditation builds sustained cluster chords in the upper voices against chanted phrases in the lower. The final section, a famous passage from Corinthians, is set as a chorale heard twice, the second time adorned by a soprano solo. It is a straightforward, understated setting of the text, allowing its simple but powerful message to be clearly heard.”
Krassimir Kyurkchiyski (1936-2011) was Bulgaria’s foremost 20th century composer, writing operas, symphonies and chamber music, in addition to his adventuresome arrangements and compositions for women’s choir. Especially noteworthy are his compositions based on folk melodies for the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir. In some sense these works are arrangements of folk song, but the rhythmic intricacies and complex harmonies carry them into the realm of original composition. Pilentse pee is a fine example of Kyurkchiyski’s writing: the recurring major seconds with which the piece opens are based in the folk singing style of west-central Bulgaria, but the enormous stacked chords and complexity of the writing are clearly mid-20th century compositional techniques. In this song a freedom fighter sings about the importance of enjoying the things we have while we can.
Notes compiled by Karen P. Thomas
ABOUT SEATTLE PRO MUSICA
Seattle Pro Musica is a critically acclaimed choral ensemble performing under conductor Karen P. Thomas. Recipient of numerous awards, including the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, Seattle Pro Musica is widely considered to be one of the finest ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. American Record Guide ranks the group “among America’s very best choirs” and “the crème de la crème of the Pacific Northwest.”
Seattle Pro Musica has received international recognition and acclaim for both its CD recordings and live performances. Of the CD Alnight by the Rose, Choir and Organ magazine (Great Britain) writes: “…there is great depth and purity in this performance… Seattle Pro Musica presents a cappella singing at its best…” Fanfare Record Magazine writes: “the tone and blend are exquisite.” Of the CD Rachmaninov’s Vespers, American Record Guide says: “They sing with incredible smoothness, rich sonic textures, impeccable technique, and truly heartfelt emotionality… masterly and utterly gorgeous.” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has praised the group’s “crystalline textures and precise musicality” as well as its “provocative and evocative” programming.
Seattle Pro Musica has appeared on the NPR radio show Saint Paul Sunday, and by invitation for the World Festival of Women’s Singing, Canada’s Festival Vancouver, the American Guild of Organists Convention, and the American Choral Directors Association Conferences, among others. The choir performs an annual concert series of repertoire ranging from Medieval chant to choral masterpieces and works by living composers.
Karen P. Thomas, Artistic Director and Conductor of Seattle Pro Musica, has conducted at international festivals in Europe and North America, and has lectured for Chorus America, the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Director’s Association, the Seattle Symphony, and the Alliance International Festival. She serves on the boards of the American Choral Director’s Association (NW), the NW chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium (founding member.) She has received awards from the NEA, American Academy & Institute, and ASCAP, among others. As a conductor, she has received critical acclaim for her “sweeping vision”, her “integrity and high purpose...delivered with taste and impeccable musicianship…”, and she has been lauded for her “charismatic...magnetic podium presence.” A prize-winning composer, her numerous commissions include the Rome Grand Jubilee 2000, American Guild of Organists, and the Goodwill Arts Festival. Her compositions are performed internationally by groups such as The Hilliard Ensemble, and have been praised as “…superb work of the utmost sensitivity and beauty.”
For more information, visit www.seattlepromusica.org or contact (206) 781-2766.
Seattle Pro Musica Members
* Women’s ensemble, tracks 5, 6, 7, 9
Soprano - Christina Bach*, Lillian Balmforth*, Madeline Bersamina* (solo track 5), Colleen Boyce, Marilyn Colyar*, Ginger Culver, Jonna Farley, Deborah Forrest, Stephanie Gray, Elly Hale*, Jill Kimball*, Carole Jones, Lauren Oglesby* (solo track 1), Laura Patton-Ballard, Christy Rood (solo track 8), Julia Shaver (solo track 1), Katie Skovholt* (solo track 3), Jan Strand* (solo track 1), Janelle Walhout, Judy Williams
Alto - Liz Adams*, Deb Arnold*, Sarah Beshlian, Shirley Beresford, Gail Broder, Jacque Deerr-Lord*, Cathy Federici*, Amanda Jessup (solo track 1), Liz Langeland, Karen Maneman, Lyn Miletich , Rose Morrison, Isabelle Phan, Shannon Huffman Polson, Liz Reed Hawk* (solo track 6), Teena Reichgott*, Kelly Sanderbeck, Karen Segar, Carly Skovholt*, Anna Thelen, Dina Trageser*
Tenor - Dean Arnold, Rechard Bersamina, Geoff Cunard, Mark Falstein, Scott Hofman, Wes Kim, Kevin Kralman (solo track 8), Lee Maneman, Dan McGraw, William Myers (solo track 2), Stephen Shaver, Vesteinn Thorsson, Fred Williams
Bass - Charles Robert Austin (solo track 1), Keith Axelsen, Ian Bishop, John Carroll, Peter Cornell, Mike Evans, Daniel Froehlich, Brian Grant, Peter Hemmen, Bruce Jessup, Peter Lifland, Glenn Nielsen, Andrew Payne, Jared Rubinstein, Josh Smith, Randy Smith, Robby Swiger (solo track 2)
Jubilate! of St James Cathedral, Stacey Sunde, director
Mary Elizabeth Adler, Gemma Balinbin, Ruby Caldwell, Kellen Erb, Sarah Fesalbon, Gloria Fletcher, Marta Frost, Alexis Gilbert, Zuzu Kane, Kathryn Lam, Marianne Martinoli, Lavender Oehler-Sandras, Jessica Paz, Kira Pinard-Welyczko, Monica Posluszny, Marysia Radka, McKenna Reitz, Grace Russell, Lissi Sevao, Christina Smith, Kendra Marie Thompson, Carmen Taylor Uding, Beverly Villarosa, Lilly Wingate, Jackie Wong, Kathryn Zepeda, Veronica Zepeda
Northwest Girlchoir Ensemble, Sara Boos, director
Emily Anderson, Meg Englert, Dylan Kinard, Kristen Kuenzli, Emily Long, Amanda Macfadden, Sophie Migeon, Evelyn Morris, Morgan Nooney , Fiona Ruddell, Sophia Turnbull-Appell
Seattle Girls’ Choir Prime Voci, Jacob Winkler, director
Abby Anastasio, Hazel Baker-Harvey, Stacia Cammarano, Leah Cantor, Lia Carstens, Robbie Castle-Bauer, Megan Codd, llison Cosca-Baresh, Erin Dacey, Madeline Dellinger, Hanna Engel, Jamie Gallupe, Marin Gow, Hali Han, Julia Hower, Madeleine LeClair, Juliana Marasco, Mackenzie Murphy, Zoë Ness, Hannah Schlueter, Ella Shahn, Sofia Smith, Nan Tilghman, Maya Troll, Brynn Tweeddale, Annie Rose Vizenor, Celeste Yglesia, Kirsten Zeller
Recording, editing & mastering: Bill Levey, Via Audio
Conductor & Producer: Karen P. Thomas
Managing Director & Assistant Producer: Katie Skovholt
Cover design: Carole Jones Design
St James Cathedral
The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle
The Very Reverend Michael G. Ryan, Pastor, St. James Cathedral
Dr. James Savage, Director of Music
Joseph Adam, Cathedral Organist
Clint Kraus, Cathedral Associate Organist
Thomas Thompson, Coordinator of Special Projects
Corinna Laughlin, Director of Liturgy
Trinity Lutheran Church
Jonathan Wohlers, Director of Music
Special Thanks to Lynn and Brian Grant, for their generous donation for the commission of I sing of love