Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Three Kings

Found a nice recording of The Three Kings tonight on Itunes. Get it here. Found another one that is interesting in the same place (I bought it, too). Lots of shaking going on.

Biebl Ave Maria - Chant for Bass and Tenor

We'll pick solos for the men's "Ave Maria" (Bieble). Here are some examples of how other recorded soloists have done the chant lines.

Example 1
Example 2

Example 1
Example 2

Trial by Fire, part 2.

Reviews are not good for the young choir teacher featured in Trial by Fire:

A comment left on this blog:

I watched "Trial by Choir" last night, and not 15 minutes in to the program I recognized Jerome as a Berklee graduate. Not for also being an graduate myself (1983), but for him carrying forward a hostile and nasty manner of "teaching", if you dare call it that, that is common at the college. Not only was it painful to view, but it angered me to see him badger these kids "What chord is this?" when there was no evidence he had taught them the difference between major or minor. Good grief, he appears to fall in to two of the more common Berklee categories - "I can't make it big so I can always teach - bitter" and "I have to tear someone else down to build myself up - insecure". I've sung in my fair-share of choirs and was an original member of the first Gospel choir at Berklee. I know you can lead a group of singers without being a terror, and have a wonderful and cohesive group. If there is a turn-around in his awful attitude I hope to see it by the close of this series.

I was a little surprised at that reaction, but saw a similar response from Charles Henry, who watched the show. (I'm recording it on the DVR but haven't watched it yet)

Then, today, I found these responses on ChoralNet:
  • I wish the program featured a real teacher instead of someone who lacks the leadership skills.
  • About half-way through the show, I've decided that no remote connection with actual musical education exists. The format exists purely to set up as much tension (it's what substitutes for an actual plot today and relieves the networks of paying writers) as possible between singers and director. The director (I use the term loosely) may be a high flying hot shot at Berkeley but teaching does not seem his forte. I'm really disappointed with this and very glad I didn't recommend it to my singers and students. These kids have been brought together musically with zero success. Most good teachers can accomplish more one hour of "real time" rather than the many days this one-hour show covered. . . A good teacher can communicate every bedrock vocal technique a beginning choir needs with Happy Birthday in one hour. The following hours go toward making it better and better and transferring it to the next song. You have to start as a teacher where they are. He isn't where they are. Not only that, he isn't WILLING to go where they are. (He prefers a bunch of teens on their first field trip out of the city to be quiet on the bus, and when they aren't, he whines. Hello??)
  • Call me old fashioned but perhaps setting the "ground rules" BEFORE you take them out for a weekend retreat would have been more successful? Name this chord-major, minor, augmented, or diminished-with no explanation at all? What was the purpose of that? It did nothing but put them on the spot and make them feel even more inadequate than they already did. This made me want to run out and start teaching high school again just to show the public what a good high school choral director is supposed to act like. Very disappointed in this!
More here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas at the Alys 2006 - the program

Our Christmas concert with correct titles, composers, composer dates, and texts.

Why am I posting this again? Google does a great job of picking up blogger blogs (probably because they own blogger). Anyway, I'm putting this 'out there' on the internet so that choral conductors will be able to find this information for their own programs in the future.

Valley Singers
Heather Cantwell, conductor

Fum, Fum, Fum
Mack Wilberg
(b. 1955)

On December five and twenty, Fum, Fum, Fum!
On December five and twenty, Fum, Fum, Fum!
On, a child was born this night,
So rosy white, so rosy white.
Son of Mary, Virgin Holy,
In a stable mean and lowly, Fum, Fum, Fum!
On December five and twenty, Fum, Fum, Fum!
On December five and twenty, Fum, Fum, Fum!
On December’s most important day,
Let us be gay, let us be gay!
We go first to church and then
We have the sweetest buns and candy, Fum, Fum, Fum!
God will send us days of feasting, Fum, Fum, Fum!
God will send us days of feasting, Fum, Fum, Fum!
Both in hot months and in cold,
For young and old, For young and old,
When we tell the Holy Story,
Ever singing of his glory, Fum, Fum, Fum!

O Magnum Mysterium
Tomás Luis de Victoria

*combined with UAB Chamber Singers

O great mystery and wonderful sacrament
That animals see the Lord born
Lying in a manger.
Blessed virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear Lord Christ. Allelujah.

Carol of the Bells
arr. Peter Wilhousky

Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells all seem to say, "Throw cares away."
Christmas is here bringing good cheer to young and old, meek and the bold.
Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song with joyful ring all caroling
One seems to hear words of good cheer from ev'rywhere filling the air.
Oh how they pound, raising the sound, o'er hill and dale, telling their tale,
Gaily they ring while people sing songs of good cheer. Christmas is here.
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
On, on they send on without end their joyful tone to ev'ry home.

UAB Women's Choir
Dr. Philip L. Copeland, conductor

Deo Gracias
Jim Leininger
(b. 1942)

Kristina Howard, percussion
Erin Pair, conductor

Deo gracias!
Adam lay ibounden, Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter, Thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple, An apple that he took.
As clerkès finden, Written in their book.
Ne had the apple taken been, The apple taken been,
Ne had never our ladie, Abeen heav'nè queen.
Blessèd be the time That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias!

There Is No Rose
Z. Randall Stroope
(b. 1953)

Dale Reynolds, piano
Aaron Glenn, oboe

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu; Alleluia.
For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space; Resmiranda.
The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo: Gaudeamus.
Now leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth; Transeamus Domini.
The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Transeamus, Gaudeamus, Resmiranda, Alleuia.
There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu; Alleluia.

Jefferson State Choirs
Jessica L. Hall, conductor

Jefferson State Choir

Gloria from Missa Brevis in F
Giovanni Palestrina

Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace, good will towards men.
We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee,
we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Jefferson State Singers

Ave Maria: A Choral Prayer
Jessica Franchi
(b. 1977)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus [Christ].
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Jefferson State Chamber Singers

Wassail Song
R. Vaughan Williams

Wassail, Wassail, all over the town,
Our bread it is white and ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the green maple tree;
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Here's a health to the ox and to his right eye,
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie,
A good Christmas pie as e'er I did see.
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto the

Here's a health to the ox and to his right horn,
Pray God send our master a good crop of corn,
A good crop of corn as e'er I did see,
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.

Come, butler, come fill us a bowl of the best;
Then I pray that your soul in heaven may rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
May the Devil take butler, bowl and all!

Then here's to the maid in the lily white smock,
Who tripp'd to the door and slipp'd back the lock;
Who tripp'd to the door and pull'd back the pin,
For to let these jolly Wassailers walk in.

UAB Men's Choir
Dr. Philip L. Copeland, conductor

Ave Maria
Franz Biebl

Hewitt-Trussville Singers
Nicholaus B. Cummins, conductor

The Glory of the Father
Egil Hovland
(b. 1924)

The Word was made flesh,
And dwelt among us,
We beheld the glory of the Father,
Full of grace and truth.
In the beginning was the Word,
The Word was with God.
In him, in him was life,
And the life was the light of men.
He came to his own,
And his own received him not.
The Word was made flesh,
And dwelt among us,
We beheld the glory of the Father,
Full of grace and truth.

Silent Night
Edwin Fissinger

Sing We Now of Christmas
arr. Fred Prentice

Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.
Of our Lord and Savior we the tidings tell.
Sing we noel, for Christ the King is born.
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.

Angels from on high say, "Shepherds come and see.
He is born in Bethlehem, a blessed lamb for thee."
Sing we noel for Christ the King is born.
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.

Shepherds found the child lying in a manger stall.
Joseph standing by and mother Mary mild.
So now sing we noel, for Christ the King is born.
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.

Magi oriental journeyed from afar.
They did come to greet Him 'neath the shining star.
Glory to God, for Christ the King is born.
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we all noel.

UAB Concert Choir
Dr. Philip L. Copeland, conductor

Ave Maria
Javier Busto
(b. 1949)

The Three Kings
Healy Willan

"Who knocks tonight so late," the weary porter said.
Three Kings stood at the gate, each with a crown on head.
The serving man bowed down, the inn was full, he knew.
Said he, "In all this town is no fit place for you.”
A light the manger lit: there lay the Mother meek.
Said they, "This place is fit: Here is the rest we seek."
They loosed their latchet strings, so stood they all unshod.
Come in, come in ye Kings, ye Kings, ye Kings.
Come in and kiss the feet of God.

-Laurence Housman

Choose Something Like a Star
Randall Thompson

O Star (the fairest one in sight), We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light. Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn." But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade. Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend. It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end. And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere, It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height, So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far, We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

-Robert Frost

Jingle Bells
arr. Ben Parry
(b. 1965)

Combined Choirs
Dr. Philip L. Copeland, conductor

Of the Father's Love Begotten
arr. Paul Wohlgemuth

Rachel Hicks, soprano

Of the Father's love begotten,
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore!
O that birth for ever blessèd,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bare the Savior of our race;
and the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven, adore him;
angel-hosts, his praises sing;
powers, dominions, bow before him,
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
every voice in concert ring,
evermore and evermore!
-Aureliss C. Prudentius

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Final Exam for Concert Choir

Our choir covers two class periods: 1g and 2e.

Exam times for each of these sections:

Section 2E, 5Q Thursday, December 14 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Section 1G, 6D Friday, December 15 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Plan on attending both exam periods at Bluff Park Methodist Church at 2:00 p.m. We'll begin right at 2:00 and dismiss by 3:30 p.m.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Have you heard of the child prodigy?

Have you heard of this guy yet?

"We are talking about a prodigy of the level of the greatest prodigies in history when it comes to composition," says Sam Zyman, a composer. "I am talking about the likes of Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and Saint-Sans."

Zyman teaches music theory to Jay at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he’s been teaching for 18 years.

"This is an absolute fact. This is objective. This is not a subjective opinion," says Zyman. "Jay could be sitting here, and he could be composing right now. He could finish a piano sonata before our eyes in probably 25 minutes. And it would be a great piece."

This choir really complains

Check out this video.

Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

This came across my desk today:

UAB has the opportunity to nominate two students for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
competition. This year the Foundation will again award 45 to 50 scholarships to outstanding students who will begin graduate studies in fall 2007. Scholars may use the award to attend any accredited graduate school in the US or abroad in pursuit of a graduate degree or professional degree including medicine, law or business.

Scholarship amounts and length will vary by student, depending on the cost of attendance, other scholarship or grants received and the time needed to complete the graduate degree. There is a maximum award per student of $50,000 per year and a maximum length of six years. The award is based on academic achievement, unmet financial need, leadership and public service, critical thinking ability and appreciation for or participation in the arts and humanities.

Since only two students can be nominated to represent UAB, the selection committee would like to have at least one student from each school for consideration. Dr. Philip Way, as the faculty representative, will then make the nomination on behalf of the institution.

To be eligible the student must:
(1) Be enrolled at UAB as a senior who will graduate no later than August 2007 or a
graduate of UAB (since May 2002)
(2) Have at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average in academically rigorous courses
(3) Have an acceptance to a graduate or professional program (by April 2007) for fall 2007

Each student you nominate should complete a packet that includes:
(1) The Application Form and Essay,
(2) A resume (2 pages maximum)
(3) Two evaluations from faculty members in the nominee's field of study or from
individuals who have supervised the student's work,
(4) A copy of college transcripts, and
(5) The appropriate student financial form (only the Applicant Form at this stage)
Students may download the information and application materials from

Completed packets should be submitted to Nelleke Bak, Director of Graduate Fellowships (Academic Programs, Hill University Center, 470G) by Wednesday, January 17.

The two selected nominees will work closely with the Director to finalize their applications due for submission by March 15,2007. This opportunity is one of great potential for our students and for UAB. I appreciate your participation in the process. If you have any questions, please call me at 934-6135 or Nelleke Bak at 934-1 259 (or email

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What? Overcharging for Textbooks?

You'll enjoy this article:

In a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that could affect thousands of college students who think they are overcharged for textbooks, two Daytona Beach Community College students have sued the nation's largest collegiate-bookstore chain and their school.

The class-action suit, filed in Orlando's federal court, alleges unfair and illegal pricing practices and seeks to recover at least $5 million in damages. It accuses the Follett Higher Education Group and DBCC of overcharging students pennies on each used-book sale and underpaying them when buying books back.

Though that may amount to only a few bucks each semester, the students argue that, when multiplied by thousands of students at each of the company's more than 750 bookstores, it adds up to millions.

Co-plaintiffs Thomas Rebman and Danny Brandner also say the college is "complicit" in the textbook company's actions because through DBCC's contract with Follett, it receives up to 10.5 percent of all bookstore revenues annually. In a recent 12-month period, the college reported collecting at least $400,000 in commissions from Follett's operations on the school's five campuses.

"This isn't about me or Mr. Brandner," Rebman said. "It's that still to this day, students are overcharged . . ., and they [DBCC administrators] refuse to enforce the contract."

The suit -- filed in late September -- is unique, according to attorneys and industry experts, and may have implications for thousands of students nationwide if a judge allows it to go forward as a class action.

Textbook prices have rankled college students for years. Student-government coalitions and advocacy groups in 14 states launched a campaign in 2003 that included a push to persuade colleges to negotiate better prices with book publishers.

Trial by Choir

Found this on Choralist today:
Dear Friends,

If you have not heard about it, a new reality TV show begins to air this evening on TLC, entitled "Trial by Choir". According to the reviews it is:
.... a six part documentary series that premieres on TLC Sunday, November 26 at 10:00 pm EST. It attempts to turn a diverse group of Boston teenagers into a choral ensemble. Jerome Kyles, a musician and a vocal instructor at Berklee College of Music, takes on the task of mentoring 24 Boston teens with a passion for music - but varying levels of talent - by turning them into a traditional choral group. Youth counselor Kate Benjamin works side-by-side with Jerome to provide emotional support to these teens. TRIAL BY CHOIR follows Jerome and Kate as they strive to make a difference in the lives of these teens. As individuals, they must learn to make the most of their natural voices - and, together, they must learn how to sing as one chorus.

While "Trial by Choir" is not the same as "The Singing Estate", which
aired on Channel Five in the UK this past summer - - it is hoped that it will, like that earlier reality choir about choirs and singing, spark some interest in what goes on within the confines of our craft, our art, and our profession.

I'm interested to see what kinds of music is used to "hook" the kids and whether the same music is used to educate them, both vocally and musically. I am certain that we will all see and hear things that we have strong opinions about. I urge the ChoralNet community to visit the ChoralNet website, where there will be a blog during the series and also to use ChoralTalk to discuss various viewpoints regarding the series. Pro or con, we can certainly find some comfort in the fact that what we do will be aired to a larger public.


Dr. James D. Feiszli, Director of Music Activities
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

It was a great trip, but good to be back

Greetings, all.

Leigh and I returned from our Thanksgiving trip yesterday. We have spent the last week in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Leigh's family makes the trip every October and wanted to do Thanksgiving there this year. Although a bit apprehensive, I enjoyed it very much.

The best part was the hiking (a.k.a. walking through the woods) but it was also good to "just get away." I'm not the type to take vacations but I really enjoyed this break before the Christmas madness.

Will post pictures of the trip soon.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A response to Charles

Charles Henry, has finally blogged for the fourth time this semester. The subject? Stupid drivers.

In honor of his prolific efforts, I've dedicated this blog to him. First, a few words from Charles:

For the better part of six years, I have owned and operated my own vehicle with no blemishes on my driving record, except for a wreck which occurred while driving very carefully in heavy rain.

I'm a perfect driver . . . um . . . except for that one time . . . and it wasn't my fault then . . . it was the incredibly heavy rain . . . yeah . . . that's it . . it was the rain's fault.

Anyway, I noticed this morning that some European cities are doing away with all traffic signs:

European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

Welcome back to the blogging world, Charles.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

But why?

The girls ask the question "but why?" after nearly every answer these days. Today, that question was asked again:

Me: Girls, time to get dressed!
Claire: But why?

I realized I didn't have a good answer, so we've been in our pajamas all day . . . and it feels so good.

A thumb to fear

Found this on the Iron Bowl Forum:

I love college football . . .

Say It Isn't So . . . .

MiniVans aren't cool anymore?

And I find this hard to believe:

One reason the minivan segment is falling is that its models, despite more aggressive styling and touches such as leather seats and rear-view cameras, are simply perceived as uncool by many drivers, said Bob Holmes, dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Business.


Even longtime minivan drivers acknowledge the vehicle has a low hip factor. April Guin of Liberty Park said her kids joked that their Plymouth Voyager looked "kind of frumpy" when she bought it after having her second child in 1989.

The article closes with great wisdom:

Some minivan drivers say they love the vehicle, despite its unexciting reputation.

Darryl Jenkins of Huffman, who has driven a Chrysler Town & Country for four years, thinks it is the perfect vehicle for families with young children.

"I like the space and the fact that it drives like a car and is easier to handle than a truck," Jenkins said. "Since we have four kids, I love the extra room so I don't see myself trading it in for anything else anytime soon."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

We Will NOT Meet at Bluff Park Tomorrow

Take note:

We will NOT meet at Bluff Park tomorrow but will meet back at UAB. The church has another function (All State Auditions, I think).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Recording Session Thursday @ Bluff Park Methodist

A reminder to Concert Choir:
We have a recording session Thursday at 2:00.

Location: Bluff Park Methodist Church

Church website

Directions to church

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dr. Reynolds sent congrats

Dr. Reynolds sent us a very nice letter of congratulations on our fall concert. Take a moment to read it and say thanks to him, please!

A portion:

Thank you all for a wonderful evening of music-making last Saturday on your fall choral concert. Birmingham has come to expect great things from you and you continue to deliver - even managing to raise the bar every time you sing. Your love of the art is contagious and your reputation for being THE choirs to be a part of is known throughout our state.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Europe payment info

I've not said much about this summer's Eruope plans lately, but we've been working hard at it in the background.

The new payment schedule:

Deposit of $300 due on December 1, 2006
Payment of $900 due on February 1, 2007
Payment of $900 due on April 1, 2007
Balance due on receipt of final invoice sent approximately 30 days prior to departure

Christmas at the Alys 2006

Hewitt-Trussville High School
“The Glory of the Father”- Egil Hovland
“Silent Night”- Edwin Fissinger
“Mary had a Baby”- William Dawson

Shades Valley High School
Fum, Fum, Fum (Mack Wilberg)
O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria)
*combined with UAB Chamber?
Carol of the Bells

Jeff State Choirs:
Gloria (From Missa Brevis in F) Palestrina
Ave Maria: A Choral Prayer Jessica Franchi
Wassail Song R. Vaughan Williams

UAB Concert Choir:
Choose Something Like a Star (Randall Thompson)
Three Kings (Healy Willan)
Ave Maria Javier Busto
Jingle Bells arr. Ben Parry

UAB Women’s Choir:
There Is No Rose (Z. Randall Stroope)
Deo Gracias (Jim Leininger)

UAB Men’s Choir:
Biebl: Ave Maria

Friday, November 10, 2006

For those of you recently married

I couldn't help but think about those who are
  1. recently married
  2. soon to be married
  3. acting like you are married
The link.

The quote:

Many loving relationships turn sour just because of the fact that acrimonious words are said during outbursts of anger. This does not mean that the couple does not love each other. These angry exchanges result from differing motives, varied interests and philosophies. But if you truly want to try and make things better between the two of you, there are some solutions that you can try. Neither of these solutions is all-encompassing. No human relationship is identical and what may work for one pair may not work with another couple.

Christmas Press Release


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Awaken the spirit of Christmas Dec. 10 with “Christmas at the Alys,” an annual celebration of Christmas music presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Music and area choirs.

Tickets are on sale now for the event, which takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. Tickets are $12. Call 205-975-2787 for tickets.

A grand selection of old and new Christmas favorites are on the program. Performing are the UAB Concert Choir, UAB Women’s Choir, UAB Men’s Choir and UAB Chamber Singers, directed by Philip Copeland, D.M.A.; as well as the Jefferson State Community College Singers, directed by Jessica Hall; Hewitt-Trussville High School Choir, directed by Nick Cummins; and Shades Valley High School Choir, directed by Heather Cantwell.

Many Christmas favorites will be performed, including Vaughan Williams’ “Wassail Song, “Carol of the Bells,” “Fum, Fum, Fum” and “Silent Night.”

The choir, led by Copeland, will combine on Wohlgemuth’s “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” an anthem based on a fourth-century chant. Copeland is in his sixth year of teaching at UAB where he is director of choral activities.

Last year’s UAB Concert Choir performed at the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, a first for a UAB ensemble. Copeland and the UAB Choirs also recently performed Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers” in New York’s Carnegie Hall. In July 2007, UAB Choirs will travel to Germany, Austria and Italy and compete in the 46th International Competition of Choral Music in Gorizia, Italy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A busy few days, eh?

Hello again, choir.

It's been busy here since last week:
  1. I was gone to the NCCO convention Thurs - Saturday
  2. Opera performed Friday and Sunday (I loved what I saw on Sunday)
  3. I was at Montgomery Academy all day to day helping them
And tomorrow, we have a visiting choir attending our 2:00 rehearsal, the Concert Choir from the College of Charleston. We'll sing for them, they'll sing for us and then they have a concert tomorrow night at South Highland Presbyterian Church.

On Monday, the group was in Atlanta performing with another recent visitor to our blogsite, Pebblebrook High School. So, don't be surprised when we have guests tomorrow.

See you then!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Sing that again . . . "


In 1958, Randall Thompson was commissioned to write Frostiana for the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. The town asked for a setting of some of Robert Frost's poetry as Frost had lived and worked there. Through family connections, Thompson and Frost had known each other for years and Frost admired Thompson's music. Thus, it was natural for the two of them to collaborate in selecting the poems to be set to music.

Frostiana was composed June 15-July 7, 1959, in Gstaad, Switzerland. Thompson knew that the choir that was to perform the work was going to be comprised of a women's and men's choruses (in those days the norm in American communities) "merged" for the event. Knowing that the choirs would have minimal rehearsal time together, Thompson composed most of the work for either men's or women's choir individually, with only the first and last poems to be sung SATB.

Both Thompson and Frost were present for the premiere performance on October 18, 1959. Thompson conducted and the choir was accompanied by piano, as it is tonight. At the conclusion of "Choose Something Like A Star," Frost rose spontaneously from his seat and bellowed, "Sing that again!"

Choose Something Like a Star

How one person felt . . . . . from the Accidental Christian (a blog).

. . . . And inside the music folder I was holding was Frostiana - Randall Thompson's choral song-cycle of Frost poems. I love each of the pieces, and sang them when I was in high school. But of all them, I have a special fondness for Choose Something Like a Star.

The choral director played a recording of Choose Something Like a Star so that the (philistine) parents could get a taste of this beautiful work of art. Being the weepy-gal that I've been lo these many weeks/months, I teared up as I listened. The poem itself is true dignity; married to Thompson's music, it is dignity incarnate . . . .

I see how I have taken blame too far. Now is the time to stand apart from the mob; to be centered and confident; to be content with who I am, even as I strive to be a more excellent and more authentic "me" each day; now is the time for a certain height.

Yes, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be staid.

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud-
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to the wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.'
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use Language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

Professor of Faith writes to Student of Faith:

Dear Christian Student,

As one person of faith to another, might I make suggestion? If you go to a Christian concert and write about how much your faith matters (not that this was part of the assignment, mind you), could you also remember the Eighth Command? Because, you see, plagiarism is a form of theft.

more here.