Un Canadien Errant arranged by Canadian composer Mark Sirett tells the story of a rebel exiled from his homeland after the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-38. This poignant folk tune expresses the pain of exile and the longing to return home. The song was made popular by Ian & Sylvia – a Canadian folk duo who introduced Americans to this folk song on their debut album in 1962. It closes with this final lament – “No, but while dying, O my dear Canada! My longing look will go toward you.” Canzona will sing this with piano at our Singtime in Paris concert, and then with orchestra at Mission San Miguel with Symphony of the Vines on April 6th at 3pm.
Can a young American millionaire travel to Paris, live without his money for a month and still get engaged to the girl of his dreams? This is just the beginning of the story in Cole Porter’s musical comedy Fifty Million Frenchmen which opened on Broadway in November 1929, just one month after the stock market crash. Local tenor Paul Osborne will make a guest appearance in Paree, What Did You Do to Me? – a lively little number from this charming show.
I Love Paris (well, who doesn’t) is a song from Cole Porter’s popular show “Can-Can” which ran for 892 performances on Broadway from 1953 until 1955. The show, set in Paris in 1893 tells the story of a dance-hall in Montmartre owned by La Môme Pistache which is being threatened with closure by a self-righteous judge who disapproves of the popular but scandalous dance the “Can-Can” performed there. Much fun and frolic ensues, and there is a happy ending. Canzona member Laura Pryzgoda will sing the solo in this ensemble number by local arranger Paul Osborne with guest artist Duane Inglish adding that special Parisian touch on the accordion. Ooh la la!
Stephen Paulus has set his his composition Sing Creation’s Music On to the ending section of “Songs Eternity” by English poet John Clare who lived from 1793 to 1864. This glorious tribute to nature has a dramatic piano accompaniment and a jubilant choral part with close harmony and mixed meter. “Nature’s glee is in every mood and tone. Songs like the grass are evergreen. Sing creation’s music on.”
American composer Gwyneth Walker’s music is “beloved for its energy, beauty, reverence and drama” and certainly I thank you God for most this amazing day is no exception. Set to the poem by e.e.cummings, this piece expresses the grandeur and vastness of the universe and the feeling of gratitude we have each morning as we awaken to a new day. The women from PolyPhonics will join Canzona to close the program in singing this piece, and with 51 voices on stage, this is sure to be a stirring end to an afternoon of wonderful music. Listen to a recording of the poet reading his poem here.
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) wrote this exotic piece on texts from “A Japanese Miscellany” by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904.) Japan was still largely unknown to Westerners in the late 19th century, and Hearn became well known for his writings about that country where he went to live in 1890. Hovhaness composed O Lady Moon in 1953 for soprano, clarinet and piano and also set it for women’s voices. We feature clarinetist Caroline Tobin and soprano soloist Linda Wilson in this unusual interplay of instrument and voices. “O Lady Moon! I say, a cat and a rat, carrying a barrel of sake, just now crossed over the mountain of Fuji. O Lady Moon!”
Canadian Eleanor Daley is another of our favorite composers who is particularly well known for her expressive setting of text. She was interviewed for the ACDA Choral Journal in July of 2011: “For me, the music comes from the text: therefore it makes sense for me to try to enhance the text as fully as possible, by using as much text painting as possible.” Ms. Daley’s lovely setting of William Butler Yeats’ poem The Cloths of Heaven is no exception to this expressive style of composition, and we can clearly hear the poet’s voice in the music.
The piece opens with the sopranos alone singing the first verse “Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light….I would spread the cloths under your feet” and this same text is sung again with all the voices ascending and descending in triads with occasional dissonances. A dreamlike piano interlude brings us to the closing section and perhaps a bit of down to earth reality for the speaker – “But I, being poor, have only my dreams….tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Ms. Daley effects a complete change of music at this point – tempo, harmony and time signature – to create a very different feeling while still holding on to dreamlike possibilities.
O Virtus Sapientie by Karen P. Thomas is from her set Lux Lucis based on texts by Hildegard von Bingen. Ms. Thomas is the artistic director of Seattle Pro Musica and she dedicated this beautiful set of three pieces to that ensemble. You can learn more about them here. I learned about Ms. Thomas from a former SLO High Choir student who is now singing in the ensemble, and met the composer/artistic director at the recent Chorus America conference in Seattle this past summer.
The composer’s notes tell us that Lux Lucis “translates as ‘light’, and especially refers to the light of life or the light of day – it can also translate as ‘hope’ or ‘elucidation’ in certain contexts.” O Virtus Sapientie explores the energy of Wisdom, circling and encompassing all things. You will hear the expression of that theme as the individual voices are set free to sing portions of the piece in their own time, without the constraints of the conductor!
Joan Szymko is one of my favorite composers and we’re delighted to feature her musical interpretation of the poem Wynken, Blynken and Nod on our concert highlighting the music of women composers. We enjoyed singing maggie and milly and molly and may our first season, and last fall we performed her Nada te turbe on text by Saint Teresa de Avila with the women from Soli Deo Gloria. You can read more about Joan Szymko here.
Ms. Szymko has set this charming text by Eugene Field with elegance and finesse. Each voice in the ensemble has a chance to sparkle, and you can easily hear the wind ruffling the waves and the little wooden shoe rocking the fisherman three! You’ll be enchanted by this lovely lullaby and we look forward to sharing it with you.
We asked composer Bradley Ellingboe to tell us a bit about his composition That Passeth All Understanding for women’s ensemble, soprano solo and clarinet. ” I wrote the piece for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble. It was premiered in the historic Loretto Chapel on a cold winter’s night that had a LOT of snow. There was talk of canceling the concert– and Santa Feans are pretty accustomed to snow. But, the show went on and it was a magical debut.” You can view the chapel here. The one time I visited Santa Fe, I went into the chapel and immediately knew it would be an inspiring place to sing. Perhaps someday Canzona can do just that! The piece was recently published and you can see and hear a sample of it here .
Ellingboe set his music to a poem by Denise Levertov published in her collection Oblique Prayers: New Poems (1984). “An awe so quiet, I don’t know when it began. A gratitude had begun to sing in me….”
This haunting piece will feature clarinetist Caroline Tobin and soprano soloist Chrystie Osborne.