Clark College presents culturally diverse holiday program
Friday, December 9, 2011
If you go
• What: Musical Treats and Seasonal Suites, fall concert by the Clark College Concert Choir and Concert Band.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Royal Durst Theater, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, 3101 Main St., Vancouver.
• Cost: Free.
• Information: http://www.clark.edu/news_events/MusicDepartmentConcerts.php or 360-992-2662.
“Adam Lay yBounden,” words from an anonymous 15th century English poem, put to music by Sheldon Curry.
“O Magnum Mysterium,” a Spanish piece from 1572, written in Latin by Tomas Lois de Victoria.
“Riu, Riu, Chiu,” a Spanish Christmas carol from the 16th century, edited by Noah Greenberg.
“Ogo ni fun Oluwa!,” a song of Christian praise sung in Yoruba, a Nigerian dialect, written by Rosephanye Powell.
“Lux Aurumque,” a modern chorale piece based on an English poem translated into Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri, music by Eric Whitacre.
“Hodie Christus Natus Est,” a traditional Latin text, set to modern chorale music by Paul Basler.
“Et in Terra Pax (And on Earth, Peace),” a modern take on the classic 18th century French carol “Gloria,” music by John Purifoy.
“Symphonic Suite,” a five-part composition by Clifton Williams.
“Christmas Day, Fantasy on Old Carols” by Gustav Holst.
“Midnight Sleigh Ride,” a swinging rendition of Prokofiev’s “Troika” made famous by the Sauter-Finegan Studio Orchestra in 1953.
Friday night’s Musical Treats and Seasonal Suites concert could be considered a cultural and historical tour through the annals of holiday music — even though it wasn’t initially planned that way.
Selections for the fall performance by the Clark College Concert Choir and Concert Band are usually picked to give students a chance to play complex or interesting pieces that will help them later in their musical careers, said Richard Inouye, Concert Band director.
This time around, though, the music that Inouye and Concert Choir Director April Duvic picked had a common theme.
“Generally, we don’t program that much holiday music during the holidays,” Inouye said. “But it just happened this quarter that it really worked out that way.”
Duvic ended up picking an interesting range of seasonal choral pieces that includes a variety of languages and cultures.
“I wanted to make sure there were pieces from different time periods, and I also wanted to look at how composers from different countries have put those pieces together,” Duvic said.
The concert kicks off with “Adam Lay yBounden,” a poem from the 15th century written in Middle English and put to music by Sheldon Curry.
The music has a festive feel, and the dialogue, while strange, is actually easier to understand than you might think.
“It just evoked something that peasants might dance to during those times,” Duvic said. “The poem is based on Genesis in the Bible, with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Analyzing it, and how people looked at it and spoke in the Medieval period, that’s what education is about.”
“O Magnum Mysterium” is a Spanish piece, written in Latin and published in 1572. Tomas Lois de Victoria, who wrote it, was close to the king of Spain and the royal family at the time, Duvic said.
“Riu Riu Chiu” is a Spanish Christmas carol from the 1500s with a bit of a Medieval dance feel, she said.
“It’s been sung all through those centuries to today,” Duvic said.
“Ogo ni fun Oluwa!” is a festive piece written in Yoruba, a Nigerian dialect. The composer, Rosephanye Powell, is a modern African-American choral writer who has had her work performed all over the world.
“Dancing, clapping and shouting is important in that culture,” Duvic said. “It has a very African-sounding rhythm and a lot of syncopation.”
“Lux Aurumque” and “Hodie Christus Natus Est” are both written by young modern composers using complex meter and sound combinations.
“Et in Terra Pax (And on Earth, Peace)” is a modern version of the classic French Christmas song “Gloria.”
“I always like to end with something thought provoking,” Duvic said. “It just asks for glory to God and peace on Earth.”
The band portion of the concert kicks off with a complex, non-Christmas selection called “Symphonic Suite” by Clifton Williams.
“I always try to include a seminal piece in the concert band literature,” Inouye said. “I do that so the students have the experience of playing it.”
The other two band pieces are much more festive, he added.
“Christmas Day, Fantasy on Old Carols” was written by Gustav Holst about five years before he wrote “The Planets,” arguably his best known work.
“Christmas Day” is an arrangement of several classic holiday songs.
“Midnight Sleigh Ride” is an upbeat 1950s take on Prokofiev’s “Troika.”
“It’s a little bit more of a jazz swing version out of that era,” Inouye said. “I actually picked it because it requires two piccolo players, and I have two very talented piccolo players right now. It was just sort of a coincidence that it turned out to be holiday music.”
Then, there’s the best part of the concert — at least for the frugal among us — it’s free.
“People can just show up,” Duvic said. “There’s no dress code for the audience. We just love to have the community watch us.”