Festival Chorus

Festival Chorus

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

National Choir Appreciation Sunday

A video message from "Queen" Latifah ahead of National Choir Appreciation Sunday, January 8th

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Carols

A rather informitive article about caroling that originally appeared in the Telegraph
You may find the original article  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/8963230/O-come-all-ye-tone-deaf-if-only-once-a-year.html

O come all ye tone-deaf – if only once a year

Christmas carols give even the hardest-hearted the licence to shed a sentimental tear.

Belting out the old familiar tunes, most of which are not that old - O come all ye tone-deaf – if only once a year
Belting out the old familiar tunes - most of which aren't actually that old... Photo: PA
Years ago, I was a lodger in the vicarage of Hampstead’s parish church, a life-conditioning experience that offered an insider view of Christmas. And one thing I remember was the endless ringing of the phone from late November onwards with a thousand repetitions of the same enquiry: “What time is the carol service?” To the point that the vicar’s wife – a feisty soul who spiked her husband’s chances of a bishopric by writing books about the church as a conspiracy against women – would lose her cool and snap: “If you ever came here other than at Christmas, you’d know.”
It’s probably been much the same during the past few weeks (no doubt with a more welcoming response). Tonight, when Hampstead has its 2011 carol service, the church will be packed as it never is during the rest of the year, with people it doesn’t see at any other time. What’s more, they will be singing – which is also something they most probably don’t do at any other time.
Apart from Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem, there isn’t much music for collective singing that the average Brit without a personal connection to Gareth Malone feels comfortable with. But Christmas carols are another matter. They give you licence to be self-exposing, sentimental, human (even corporate bankers shed a tear during Silent Night). And more significantly, they capture the effect that Christmas has on us all, irrespective of religious belief. The effect of concentrated time, collapsing.
There’s one carol in particular, O Little Town of Bethlehem, that sums it up in spiritual terms: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” But even secularists can probably feel something similar: a meeting of hopes, fears, happenings and memories, albeit without reference to any “thee”. Christmas connects us with our pasts, with all the other Christmases we’ve known. More than that, it connects us with the collective past: with all our squabbling forebears who, at this one moment, have contained their loathing of each other, gathered peaceably in Cotswold churchyards, medieval cloisters or the trenches of the Somme, and sung these tunes. Throughout the centuries, or so it’s nice to think.
Needless to say, the truth is different. Christmas is, of course, a largely 19th-century invention: so are all those carols. Most of them aren’t hugely ancient. Most of them aren’t even carols, if you’re strict on definition. And the ones that are tend not to have particularly spiritual origins, mixing the sacred with the secular – although that’s something to commend them to a modern congregation, similarly vague on where it stands with God.
Historically, a carol was a dance-tune, sung to simple, repetitive texts and a robust affair – as much to do with drinking and fertility rites as with the birth of Jesus. It wasn’t welcomed in church where, up to the Reformation at least, Christmas music was still steeped in the contemplative calm of plainsong. And when the Reformation kicked in, it came with a distrust of Christmas that prepared the ground for Cromwell’s abolition of it from 1644 to 1660. So no carol singing then.

But history being an untidy process, it was a Cromwellian soldier who came up with the first English carol text to enter common repertory: the Wither’s Rocking Hymn (best-known these days in a setting by Vaughan Williams). It caused him trouble, and the Stationers Company refused to allow publication on the grounds that it was “popish, superstitious, obscene and unfit to keep company with the psalms”. But it set a precedent. And in 1700 it was joined by While Shepherds Watched, which for a long while was the only Christmas carol officially allowed in Anglican liturgy.

By 1782 there was a second, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (or, as it originally ran, Hark, How all the Welkin Rings). But from that, you see how slow the process of acceptance was. Only in the mid-19th century – prompted on the one hand by the rigorous Methodist promotion of hymn-singing, and on the other by romantic, Anglo-Catholic medieval fantasies – that the standard repertory built up. In some cases it was a scholarly process of refashioning old texts and fitting them to new tunes (or vice versa), masking their newness in the Gothic Revival manner of texts like Good King Wenceslas – which may seem old and exotic but was actually cobbled together in East Grinstead by a Victorian liturgist called J M Neale. And it was of course these Victorians who bequeathed us a vision of Roman-occupied Judea very like East Grinstead, 1850: See Amid the Winter’s Snow and its companions wilfully adjusted the Nativity to Anglican experience.

As for false antiquity, the seemingly timeless King’s College service of lessons and carols was invented in 1918 – by a priest who had just come back from the trenches, where he’d acquired a taste for liturgical improvisation. And the first classic collection of Christmas music in print was the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols: presiding genius, Vaughan Williams. But by then the carol had taken a different turn: reinvented yet again as a refined, exquisite anthem for the choir, without participation from the pews. The early 20th century confirmed a long historical process that took carols off the streets (where they were public property) into the sanctuary (for trained musicians, robed and surpliced and apart).

Some commentators see that as a bad move, but it generated an outstanding choral culture serviced by the likes of Herbert Howells and Peter Warlock (whose Bethlehem Down, the most magical of all modern carol-anthems, exists thanks to a Telegraph competition). And happily, that culture still exists. Only the other week, I heard the elite professional choir Tenebrae sing a carol concert, and the whole event was a showcase for new or recent work – by composers like Roxana Panufnik, Judith Bingham and Patric Standford (whose This Day got my personal vote).

The problem is that all the good new carols these days are for choirs. Even John Rutter, living king of Christmas music, isn’t coming up with modern classics for a congregation. And to my mind, the fixed universe of carols that everyone can join in badly needs refreshing: thank God Christmas comes but once a year when it means another round of Silent Nights and Once in Royals. But I guess the 100 million-plus who tune in to King’s, Cambridge next week, and the throngs who make their yearly trip to Hampstead parish church tonight, will take a different view. For them it will be the same, much-loved old stuff that meets together with their hopes and fears. Even if it isn’t actually that old.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Program Notes

The following are the program notes from our December 11th performance.

Program Notes

mag∙nif'i∙cent (from the Latin magnificens doing great things)
             1. splendid; stately; imposingly beautiful; grand; rich or sumptuous, as in construction, decoration, etc.
             2. exalted: said of ideas, etc., and also of former rulers.
Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Second Edition

December is a time of preparation and, for many, a time of frantic business. It is also a time of beautiful and magnificent traditions. Music dominates the season and there is a sense of magic and wonder in people of every age and in events great and small.  Our Christmas Choral Concert this year attempts to capture the essence of those traditions and experiences both in modern music composed for the season and in the work of an exalted master of the baroque period. As we journey through various styles, ensembles and combinations of forces, the Magnificat or "Song of Mary" from the gospel of Luke serves as an anchor to our program.

magnficat is a canticle or song taken directly from the Bible which tradition tells us was sung or spoken by a specific character in the bible, in this case the Virgin Mary. Often called the “song of Mary”, the Magnificat comes from the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55 after receiving the news that Mary is to bear the son of God.

There are approximately ten canticles that have received the attention of composers through the ages and from those ten it is two of the canticles from the gospel of Luke, the “Nunc Dimitis” or “Song of Simeon” and the Magnificat that have had countless settings. Yet even among those two, the song of Mary stands out. Through the years the Magnificat has been set by such master composers as Victoria, Palestrina, Vivaldi, Byrd, Tallis and Penderecki.

The first portion of our concert features our own men's quartet, the Jingleberries (the artists formerly known as the Choir Boys), the Cherub Chicks, the debut of the "supergroup" the Mistletones and the Sisters in Song. Though the selections of the first half are either newly composed or arranged in the last fifty years ( recent in terms musical history) they all have strong roots in the long tradition of choral music. Rounding out the first half is a setting of the "Magnificat" by contemporary composer Z. Randall Stroope.

This modern setting by Dr. Stroope for soprano and alto voices and four hands piano is macaronic, meaning that it makes use of two languages, in this case Latin and English. The opening use of the Latin immediately connects us to a choral tradition stretching back to the renaissance and beyond but the recurring use of the G major add 9 chord lets us know that this is a distinctly modern piece.  This is a wonderful contribution to the legacy of compositions and stands out as stunning addition to this combination of voices.

At the beginning of this year, famed music critic of the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini undertook a two week project soliciting input on the top 10 composers of all time from readers and critics alike. Quickly it became evident that one name rose to the top of the list, Johan Sebastian Bach. In an introductory video posted on the New York Times website Mr. Tommasini states "Musicians always seem to start with Bach and with good reason, if there was one composer in history who is an ultimate master,
the ultimate master it would be Bach. Bach summed up everything that happened in music and anticipated everything that was to come."

Aside from the settings of the Latin Mass and Requiem, the Magnificat is one of the most beloved Latin texts in the history of the western church. In the canon of church music few settings rival that of Johan Sebastian Bach. As musicologist Hans-Joachim Schulze so elegantly writes, “The crowning achievement of this extensive tradition is, without question, the Magnificat of Johann Sebastian Bach, a work which, by virtue of its orchestral brilliance, its compositional concentration and intensity, the variety of its constituent movements and its profundity of textual exegesis, far transcends all previously established norms.” (Concluding Remarks of the Edition Peters Vocal Score)

The Magnificat in E flat major was composed in his first year of service in Leipzig, Germany where Bach was responsible for the music programs at the two most important Lutheran churches, the Thomaskirche and Nicholaikirche. At this time, and particularly in this region, there was a strong connection to Martin Luther and the reformation (1517) in which the reformers strongly advocated the use of the German language in church. There was a swift and dramatic shift over to the German language used in church except for very special occasions, and in Leipzig, Bach encountered a tradition in which a Latin setting of the Magnificat would be sung on high feast days, such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. So it was that this setting of the Magnificat was premiered on Christmas Day, 1723.

The original setting of the Magnificat premiered at that time was in E flat major, an unusual key for many reasons, particularly because it would have been nearly impossible to play on the trumpets of that day which had neither keys nor valves which were not in widespread use until the nineteenth century. Some have suggested that the strings might have tuned down a half step to the key of D major which would have accommodated the trumpets. In that original performance, records indicate that there were four additional a cappella choral settings of interpolated Christmas texts and it is plausible that these selections were pre-existent and that the Magnificat was composed to accommodate those pieces and not cause harmonic clashes between movements.

Whatever the reasons were, it appears that in all subsequent performances Bach removed the four interpolated choral pieces and lowered the key to D major, which not only accommodated the trumpets but also allowed the strings to play in open positions, which creates a more brilliant timbre throughout the section. The removal of the additional choruses also allowed this piece to be performed on other major liturgical feasts. Somewhat ironically, it is believed that German pipe organs at the time were tuned slightly more than a half step lower than our modern instruments, the result being that the current setting of D major played on modern instruments sounds very close to the E flat of Bach’s time.

For many generations of musicians immediately following the death of Johann Sebastian Bach, he was primarily known and remembered for his work as an organist and composer of organ music. His setting of the Magnificat was one of the few pieces that seemed to survive the changes in musical styles and was even one of the first non-keyboard compositions of Bach to be published in the 19th century.

No matter what key it is played in, what type of instruments it is played on or even whether or not the interpolated pieces are included, the Magnificat is a piece worth performing and hearing again and again. We hope you enjoy it!

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Greatest

More on the top ten composers of all time


Why Bach?

New York Times music critic Anthony Tomassini discusses why Bach is so important to musicians and music history in this video. One can't help but be impressed by his enthusiasm especially in a man who is payed to be critical for a living.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Concert Flyer

Christmas Choral Concert
"Magnificent Christmas"
Sunday, December 11th at 7pm
Featuring the Sisters in Song, Cherub Chicks, Jingleberries and the debut of the MistleTones. The Sanctuary Choir will be joined by members of the Chancel Choir and Masterworks Chorale of First United Methodist Church, San Diego, Soloists from the San Diego Opera, and San Diego Festival Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Stan Wicks

Childcare available
No Admission Charge
Free-Will Offering

First United Methodist Church
1200 East "H" Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bach to the present

Was sent this video with some neat factoids about Johann Sebastian Bach and his organ music. While it is a great video, it's essentially an advertisement for Allen organs. Still worth sharing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Music?

Below you will find the very eloquent and moving "Welcome Address" by Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division of the Boston Conservatory. It is so beautiful I had to share it!

You may find the original here http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/music/karl-paulnack-welcome-address

Karl Paulnack Welcome Address

One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school—she said, "you're wasting your SAT scores!" On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they loved music: they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.
One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940 and imprisoned in a prisoner-of-war camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose, and fortunate to have musician colleagues in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist. Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.
Given what we have since learned about life in the Nazi camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture—why would anyone bother with music? And yet—even from the concentration camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."
In September of 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. On the morning of September 12, 2001 I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.
At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, on the very evening of September 11th, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang "We Shall Overcome". Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.
From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.
Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heart wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

Very few of you have ever been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but with few exceptions there is some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings—people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks. Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.
I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in a small Midwestern town a few years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier—even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.
When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute cords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?"

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. The concert in the nursing home was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.
What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:
"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mid-November Update

As November draws to a close and we make the turn into the "holidays", we start to make a final push in preparations for our Christmas Choral Concert.

Believe it or not, tomorrow night's rehearsal represents our last Thursday meeting in November! Luckily we do have an extra rehearsal to help prepare for the Bach this Saturday, November 19th from 9-Noon.  Those that were present for the last Saturday rehearsal undoubtedly found it to be tremendously helpful. Please make every effort to attend this important rehearsal.

A reminder that in previous blogs (see Magnificat Resources) I noted helpful resources in learning the Bach Magnificat. In particular I would like to point your attention towards CyberBass.com which has midi files of just your part available.

This coming Sunday we are celebrating "Thanksgiving" and in accordance will be singing Lloyd Larson's "O Give Thanks to the Lord".  The following Sunday marks the start of Advent and the beginning of the New Year in liturgical terms. On Sunday, November 27th, 2011 we will be singing the sublime "God So Loved the World" by John Stainer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November and December Schedule

Sanctuary Choir Schedule
November/December 2011

Thurs 11/10 - Rehearsal 7-9pm
Sun 11/13 -   Worship, 9am call time Almighty and Everlasting God - Orlando Gibbons   (4pm Concert)
Thurs 11/17 - Rehearsal    
Sat 11/19 -    Rehearsal with Dr. Wicks 9-Noon
Sun 11/20 -   Worship        O Give Thanks to the Lord - Lloyd Larson
Thurs 11/24 - No Rehearsal (Thanksgiving)
Sun 11/27 -   Worship         God So Loved the World - Sir John Stainer
Thurs 12/1 -  Rehearsal
Sun 12/4 -    Worship Will We Know Him - Don Besig
Thurs 12/8 -  Rehearsal
Sat 12/10 -  "Dress Rehearsal" 9-Noon
Sun 12/11 -  Children's Musical (no choir at 9:30 service)
                    Christmas Choral Concert at 7pm (6:30 call time)
Thurs 12/15- Rehearsal
Sun 12/18-   Worship   Omnes Generaciones (from Magnificat)
Thurs 12/22- Rehearsal
Sat 12/24-    Worship at 6pm (5:15 call time, please carpool or park in alternate lot)
Sun 12/25 -   Worship at 10am, No Sanctuary Choir (see Juan if you are interested in singing)
Thur 12/29-   No Rehearsal
Sun 1/1 -       Women's Choir (all Sopranos and Altos welcome to sing) 9am call time

Please note that as of this date we have 4 remaining rehearsals on the Bach Magnificat before we join together with the soloists and orchestra.

Our anthem for this Sunday
Almighty and Everlasting God - Orlando Gibbons

Brand new Ticonderoga pencils (the best in the world) go to the person(s) who can tell me how this version differs from ours (excluding the audio).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

English Translation

This translation is line by line but not word for word.
For more information see the Bach Cantatas website

1. Chorus (S1, S2, A, T, B)
Magnificat anima mea Dominum
My soul doth magnify the Lord.

2. Aria (S2)
Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

3. Aria (S1)
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae;
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent

For he had regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth shall call me blessed

4. Chorus (S1, S2, A, T, B)
Omnes generationes.
All generations.

5. Aria (B)
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his name.

6. Aria (A, T)
Et misericordia a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
And [his] mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.

7. Chorus (S1, S2, A, T, B)
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

8. Aria (T)
Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.

9. Aria (A)
Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.
He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away.

10. Aria (S1, S2, A)
Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel.

11. Chorus (S1, S2, A, T, B)
  Sicut locutus est ad Patres nostros,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula.

As he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever.

12. Chorus (S1, S2, A, T, B)
Gloria Patri, gloria Filio,
gloria et Spiritui Sancto!
Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, glory be to the Son,
and glory be to the Holy Ghost!
As it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Magnificat Videos

Here is my best attempt at finding videos for each of the chorus movements which pair recordings with the sheet music so you can follow along. If anyone finds better editions of these videos please let me know.

Magnificat (opening movement) - This doesn't have the music but it is a performance in the Thomas Kirche in Leipzig which was Bach's longest running and most important church position.

Omnes generaciones - This video is remarkable because it shows the elaborate layering of the entrances and then pairs that with the biblical number equivalents in the generations/lineage of Jesus. When we step back and see the forest from the trees we see what a true genius Bach was.

Fecit Potentiam - Not my favorite video because the tempo of the recording is a bit brisk for learning purposes and the music is shown in the various "C" or "K" clefs which make it difficult to read. The general idea with those clefs is that the middle of the K always falls on middle C.

Sicut Locutus Est - Couldn't find a recording with the music so I've included this performance video of soloists singing this movement. The tempo is manageable on this recording and having one on a part clears up the texture.

Gloria Patri - Another performance video, just be glad I don't look like this when I conduct.

Lutherania (1/2) - this video does include the music for each movement but it is the entire work (with solos) and is split into two videos.

Lutherania (2/2) - Second "half" of this video, picks up at "Fecit Potentiam"

Magnificat Resources

This list of Bach "Magnificat" resources is focused on the websites which will aid in note learning.

Cyber Bass - This website has midi recordings (should play on any computer) of each voice part for each movement at a very manageable tempo. The page is a bit busy with ads and what not but it shouldn't be too hard to find the information you need.

Ultimate.com - Another midi parts site, easier to navigate however these parts have silence when your part is not active so it can be a bit confusing, particularly on the opening movement which has 31 measures of rest before the first choral entrance.

Impressario - This german website also has parts but what makes this one noteworthy is that they are available for download as mp3 files which could easily be transferred to your ipod or even "burned" to a CD. For those of you who are feeling confident, you may also practice with the accompaniment only version.

Sheet Music - A PDF of the complete piano/vocal score, great resource if you didn't bring your music home with you.

J. R. Jennings - This site has both midi files and scores available however, most of the scores are the complete version rather than the vocal/piano (reduction) that we are used to seeing. The thing I like about this website is that midi files are a bit more elaborate and make an attempt to sound more like the real instruments.

The next post will be of YouTube videos of each of the movements with music scrolling (classical karaoke).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This week, the first of November, 2011


I am glad you have found the blog for the Sanctuary Choir of First United Methodist Church, Chula Vista. This site was created with the singers and other music volunteers in mind so that we might share resources and information more freely.

The internet is a huge if not overwhelming source of information and entertainment and we are attempting to focus and filter that information to be helpful to the needs of our singers. If you are one of those singers, congratulations on navigating your way to this site. If you are some choral aficionado (nerd) that just happened upon this blog we hope that you will find this a helpful list of resources and inspiration in your own musical journey.


This Thursday (November 3rd) we will be taking a look at "Fecit Potentiam" from the Bach Magnificat. I have included this video from our new "favorite" interpreter Ton Koopman. I will also include another video with the music (different edition) scrolling along to aid the learning process.

In a later posting I will include links to various Bach/Magnificat resources.

Important reminder: Rehearsal with Dr. Stan Wicks this Saturday, 9-Noon. This is a crucial rehearsal!