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Christmas works around theme of 'light'

Friends,

I have started the planning process of selecting music for the 2010 Christmas season concerts for my 75 voice professional choral ensemble. The theme that keeps coming to mind is 'light', pretty broad yes, but it is what I have this far. Here is what I need from you kind folks:

1) Can you suggest a major work with organ, orchestra or both that is NOT performed very often? It can be from any time period and of any length, but keep in mind I wish to program other selections with it and my concert should come in at 2 hours or under! I do adore Handel's Messiah, but have decided to put it away for a few years as I am sure there will be many performances of the work this season.

2) If you can't think of a major work, can you offer any other shorter pieces that can fit around the theme of light. Once again, any voice, instrumental combination is fine!

Once again, thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you!

Peace,

Chris

on June 11, 2010 7:23am
Two larger works that come to mind are Camille Saint-Saëns' Christmas Oratorio and Ottorino Respighi's Laud to the Nativity. Both are around 30 minutes and use smaller ensembles. With the latter work I have programmed a composition of mine on Isaiah 60:1 entitled "Light!", for SATB chorus, flute, oboe, bassoon, and organ. Let me know if you want further information.
 
Lee Barrow
North Georgia College & State University
Dahlonega GA
on June 11, 2010 7:42am
Here's a ChoralNet resource on this topic.
on June 12, 2010 4:31am
Chris:
I would highly recommend that you consider Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna", although it may not be considered a "Christmas"  piece, it hits the theme of light right on the head.
While with the Master Chorale of South Florida, we performed that along with a few other pieces in April of 2009. It is absolutely beautiful, especially the fourth movement, "Veni, Sancte Spiritus".  If you haven't heard it, the outstanding recording is by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Paul Salamunovich conducting  (RCM 19705)  I have just about worn out my CD
Best of Luck
Jim Filosa
on June 12, 2010 7:48am
For a smaller work, you could program Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque" or any piece with that text, as it is very centered around light and the baby Jesus. 
 
Light, 
warm and heavy as pure gold
the angels sing softly 
to the new-born babe
on June 12, 2010 11:28am
Several infrequently-performed major works with orchestra are listed below. (Caveat: I don't know most of these works very well, so can't attest to their musical quality or audience appeal.)
  • Finzi: In Terra Pax, op. 30 for bass, chorus, & orchestra, which has numerous references to light. (There is also an arrangement of his wonderful Magnificat for choir, organ, and orchestra.)
  • Randall Thompson: The Nativity According to St. Luke for numerous soloists, chorus and orchestra
  • Frank Martin: Le Mystere de la Nativite - Big work 1 hour, 40 minutes with lots of soloists
  • Honneger: Une cantate de Noël for baritone, children's & mixed chorus, organ, & orchestra (probably a large one)- c. 25 minutes; features numerous references to light coming in to darkness; shape of piece moves from darkness to light.
  • Vaughn Williams: The First Nowell (A Nativity Play) for soprano, baritone, chorus, and small orchestra  - c. 30 minutes; one of the last works that VW wrote; he died shortly before finishing it; Roy Douglas completed it for the premiere performance. Charming work with lots of familiar & unfamiliar carols. References to light in several of the sections, including "How brightly shone the morning star"
  • Rheinberger: Der Stern von Bethlehem (The Star of Bethlehem) for soprano, baritone, choir, & orchestra - c. 48 minutes. Numerous references to light.
  • Edmund Rubbra - Advent Cantata for baritone, choir, & orchestra - c. 11 minutes.  Not many references to light, but might fit the bill anyway.
Some shorter works that might be appropriate include the following, all SATB a cappella unless otherwise noted. Items preceded by asterisks below are specific to light & Christmas; others are not specific to Christmas, but probably still appropriate. I believe that the "Nata Lux" settings are more specific to Transfiguration, but they apply well to Christmas.  
  • Lauridsen: "O Nata Lux" from his Lux Aeterna
  • William Mathias: "O Nata Lux", #3 from his Rex Gloriae
  • * Finzi: All this Night, Op. 33 (Fabulous!)
  • Eleanor Daley: O Nata Lux - SSAA
  • Guy Forbes: O Nata Lux
  • Frank Ferko: O Gracious Light ("Phos hilaron") - with organ
  • Peter Hallock: The Lord is My Light - with organ
  • Leo Sowerby: Eternal Light
  • Rutter: Hymn to the Creator of Light - Double Cholr (this piece belongs to the group of Rutter works that are reminiscent of Howells and Vaughan-Williams, which also includes Come Down, O Love Divine and Veni Sancte Spiritus; all great pieces!)
  • Matthew Orlovich: Lo, There is Light
  • Mircea Valeriu Diaconescu: Lumina Luna (O Kindly Light) - (Roumanian composer; piece is reminiscent of Eastern Orthodox music, combining both Russian and Byzantine; very beautiful & meditative)
  • Gabriel Jackson: O thou that art the light
  • * Gabriel Jackson: To morning (very luminous harmonies)
  • Gabriel Jackson: Orbis patrator optime (Creator of the circling sky)
  • Reginald Unterseher: Pilgrim Spring - SATB, piano, and oboe (or other melody instrument, contains alternate parts for horn, cello, or clarinet)
  • * Edmund Rubbra: Star of the Mystic East, Op. 81
  • * Edmund Rubbra: The Holy Dawn, Op. 135
  • Julian Wachner: At the Lighting of the Lamps - major 3-movement work (19 minutes) for SATB, organ, & flute 
         1. Inventor rutili, dux bone, luminis (Gracious Lord, Creator of the Golden Light) - 6:00
         2. Ne nesciret homo spem sibi luminis (This was to teach mankind its hope, That light...) - 2:50
         3. Vivax flamma biget, seu cava testula (The flickering light grows strong...) - 10:30
I can also provide references to recordings and publishers if it would be helpful.
There are certainly other works as well, so feel free to contact me directly for additional titles. (www.johnmuehleisen.com)
 
All the best on choosing the rep for your concert!
John Muehleisen
 
on June 13, 2010 1:17pm
I can't help feeling light when I listen to sacred choral works of Kentaro Sato. Missa pro Pace (Sanctus movement) especially. Although it is a cappella work, I think you should consider...
 
Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna certainly fits your need, and it is one of my favorites.
 
Additionally, isn't there movements about fire (light) in Carmina Brana?
 
on June 13, 2010 6:48pm
Hello all, I didnt want to take the chance of missing someone when I respond but just in case i wanted to thank all who have responded to my request for Christmas works around the theme of light. I always am very happy with the knowledge of the choralnet community and I try to thank everyone personally who helps me out. Once again, thank you all and I enjoy being part of this wonderful community!
 
Peace,
Chris
on June 13, 2010 9:58pm
Rite of Yule, The (1997)
COMPOSER ::  David Maddux  »BIO »BROWSE
INSTR ::  SATB, soloists and piano
DURATION ::  03:00
PRODUCT ::  YR3038 Full score $2.10
on June 14, 2010 9:30am
My 3-movement cantata, Earthly Light (about 12-15 mins), for SATB divisi, fl,ob,cl,2hn,btbn,cel,org, does not have a Christmas theme, but might be appropriate. It was premiered by the Bagaduce Chorale last December on a program with Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna. I'm happy to send you a pdf perusal score and mp3 of a performance if you're interested.
 
best wishes,
Anna Dembska
on June 27, 2010 8:27am
Here is the program entitled "Voices of Light" that we performed at Mansfield University in 2006.
Good luck! Peggy Dettwiler

Prelude
1. Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabela . . . . . Christoph Uehlein
2. Gloria in excelsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Timothy Albrecht

Men’s Chorus
3. Byzantine Chant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous
4. She walks in beauty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Earlene Rentz
5. O day full of grace....Christoph Weyse, arr. Robert Wetzler

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing (Audience sing-along)

Women’s Chorus
6. Candlelight Carol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Rutter
7. The lights we have kindled . . . . . . . . . . . Samuel Adler

O Little Town of Bethlehem (Audience sing-along)

Mansfieldians
8. Hence stars, too dim of light . . . . . . . . . . Michael East
9. O nata lux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Tallis
10. A spotless rose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Herbert Howells
11. Some children see him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alfred Burt
12. We are lights (The Chanukah Song) . . Carole Stephens

The First Noel (Audience sing-along)

Festival Chorus
13. Light the Legend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Isaacson
14. Silent Night . . . . . Franz Gruber/arr. Malcolm Sargeant
15. And then shall your light break forth (Elijah) . . .
. . . Felix Mendelssohn

We Three Kings (Audience sing-along)

Concert Choir
16. O Jesu mea vita . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Claudio Monteverdi
17. Svete tihiy (Gladsome Light) . . . . . . . Pavel Chesnokov
18. O nata lux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Morten Lauridsen
19. True Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Keith Hampton

Combined Choirs
20. Arise, your light has come . . . . . . . . . . . David Danner

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