Week 6: Friday, April 27, 2018
“Riu Riu Chiu” arr. Erica Phare-Bergh
Traditional Spanish Christmas Carol, 16th century villancico
SA, recorder, hand drum
I know it is only April, but I’m jumping ahead to Christmas/holiday music for a week. This arrangement by Erica Phare-Bergh is a wonderful, accessible two-part addition to your holiday catalog. It is the perfect choice for a developing group starting to branch out into two-part repertoire. Or it makes a quick read for an advanced ensemble when you need that one more uptempo selection to top off the program.
I anticipate programming this selection for my intermediate group, for next fall’s closing holiday event. I know they will enjoy a fun, lively selection within the comfort zone of their current reading skills – which then also allows me to push the literacy envelope on a different selection for the same choir.
A traditional Spanish Christmas carol from the mid-1500s, Riu Riu Chiu is an energetic and dance-like selection, with text that outlines the prophesy and fruition of the nativity story.
Ranges are limited to right around an octave for both voice parts – sopranos are entirely in the staff (E to F#), while altos are in the staff and just below (B to B) – nothing too low or too high for either voice.
Both soprano and alto have the chance to function as melody and as harmony, which is especially helpful if using this as an early-two-part teaching opportunity.
The structure of the song is strophic, with four verses and four choruses. The first two verses are in unison, while the third verse is a solo opportunity, and the fourth verse is alto-melody with soprano descant. The chorus material is the same each time, with a short interlude after each chorus for hand drum and recorder (parts available from the publisher). Dynamics are clearly marked, and terraced by phrase.
Rhythms are primarily eighth notes and quarter notes, with the occasional half note or sixteenth. There are some ties, but they usually come up in the same place in each phrase (primarily over the bar line). This could be a successful opportunity for putting early-level rhythmic literacy into practice in the score. Since the selection has no piano accompaniment, there is very little on the page besides pitch, rhythm, and lyrics – which can be a boon when transitioning from rote rhythms, flash cards, and rhythm worksheets to the printed music itself. There is limited “visual clutter” for the students to sort through.
If your students are working on minor-solfege, this is also a good opportunity to incorporate that aspect of literacy. Or, since the melodic material is very repetitive, it can easily be learned by rote.
The challenge of this piece will lie in performing the Spanish text cleanly and clearly with Vivace tempo, energy, and dance-like crispness.
|Title:||Riu Riu Chiu|
|Source:||traditional Spanish Christmas carol, 16th century villancico|
|Arranger:||arr. Erica Phare-Bergh (http://cypresschoral.com/Composers/Phare.html)|
|Date of Arrangement:||2016|
|Subject(s):||Christmas, winter holiday|
|Voicing Details:||SA, no divisi|
|Accompaniment:||Recorder, hand drum|
|Publisher:||Cypress Choral Music CP 1481|
|Further descriptions and details, including notes, audio, perusal score, and purchasing:|
Until next week!
Dr. Shelbie Wahl-Fouts is associate professor of music, Director of Choral Activities, and music department chair at Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia.
Email: Bio: https://www.hollins.edu/directory/shelbie-wahl-fouts/