Comfort and Joy this Holiday Season
Part 1: Holiday music for virtual performance
Contributing Editor: Jonathan Campbell
We live in uncertain times. What can choral music offer? Certainty! We can bring joy to our communities, no matter the circumstances. 2020 taught us that choral musicians can overcome almost anything. If we can’t sing in person, we sing virtually. If we have to sing masked and socially distanced, we do that. And in the holiday spirit, we can bring comfort and joy to our schools, churches, and communities.
Holiday music suitable for virtual performance:
“A Facebook Christmas” by J. David Moore
This 7-part, a cappella round, features a collection of Facebook status updates of David’s friends and family from the week of Christmas, 2009.
“Blessed Be!” by Melanie DeMore
SATB a cappella
“Blessed Be!” is a celebration of life that uses the “tree of life” metaphor to joyfully express our gratitude for human connection–to generations that have come before us and those yet to come. Melanie DeMore shares the following, when talking about her inspiration for the text in “Blessed Be!”:
“Trees are shelter. Trees are sanctuary and symbols of antiquity and strength. Trees are the living embodiment of the passage of time. They endure scarring and disease, and they become gnarled and creaky, yet they remain steadfast. They can grow despite the changes happening around them. Trees live in harmony with their surroundings much longer than humans do. They are always an inspiration, especially in winter when their skeleton forms can be seen against the pale sky.”- Melanie DeMore
“Noel, noel” by Paul John Rudoi
Two-part mixed, harp (or piano)
Equally accessible and deeply affecting, Paul John Rudoi’s “Noel, noel” is a new Christmas carol for our time. On the surface is a singable, universal melody coupled with gorgeous accompaniment for either harp or guitar. Yet it is Rudoi’s own lyrics, chronicling Jesus’ story from birth to death and beyond, that embody the full universality of the season and our own humanity.
“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” arr. Michael Weber
A beautiful and expressive telling of the Christmas story, this piece is an arrangement of a traditional Polish Christmas carol. Ranges and voice-leading are accessible to smaller or less experienced choirs. Weber’s “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” performed by the NDSU Madrigal Singers.
About the composers
J. David Moore is a composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, and Southerner who has lived in the Upper Midwest for most of his life. His music has been called “endlessly inventive,” “glorious…haunting…breathtaking,” and “joyous…wild and elemental.” He publishes through his company Fresh Ayre Music, and is the founder and conductor of The First Readings Project, a chamber choir that acts as a resource for composers in the development and promotion of new work. He lives with his wife Anna in Minneapolis, where he bakes bread, drinks tea, and is distracted by beauty.
Melanie DeMore is one of the most outstanding vocal artists of today helping to preserve the African American Folk Tradition through song and Gullah stick pounding. She was the subject of a documentary called ‘Stick and Pound’ which showcases this tradition. She has a career spanning 30 years dedicated to teaching, lecturing, mentoring, conducting, directing and inspiring children and adults about the power of song as social and political change. Her piece is published through VocalEssence Music Press, a dynamic music publishing company that offers a select group of emerging composers the opportunity to make their music available to choirs everywhere. And we offer choruses access to new music they can’t find anywhere else. Our mission is to help choruses, conductors and composers connect in meaningful ways by publishing exciting new music for singers at all levels. VocalEssence Music Press is a subsidiary of VocalEssence, a leading arts organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Deemed “indesputably unique, confident, and innovative” through the American Prize, Paul John Rudoi’s award-winning compositions have been commissioned and performed by various ensembles and artists throughout North America and Europe, including Orphei Dränger, the Vancouver Chamber Singers, the British Trombone Society, Cantus, and the National Lutheran Choir. His work has garnered numerous grants from the Jerome Foundation, the ACF, MRAC, MSAB, the NEA, and ASCAP. His music is published through PJR Music alongside Graphite, Santa Barbara, Walton, Morningstar, and ECS music publishers. As a professional tenor vocalist, Paul has performed and recorded a wide range of music as a member of the full-time vocal ensemble Cantus. From 2008-2016, he premiered dozens of new works for male chorus, toured on four continents, and advocated for arts education and empowerment through education outreach opportunities nationwide.
Michael J. Weber is the Associate Director of Choral Activities at North Dakota State University. Dr. Weber conducts the Madrigal Singers and The Statesmen of NDSU and teaches classes in choral conducting, choral literature, and music education. The NDSU Challey School of Music Choral Series is part of the school’s mission to serve our world-wide community of musicians and supporters. The music selected for this series has a wide range of voicings and difficulties which can meet the needs of choral musicians everywhere. The NDSU Challey School of Music Choral Series is committed to publishing high-quality choral music written by composers and arrangers who believe in the power that choral music has to enrich and enhance the lives of all.