JEAN SIBELIUS: On great lone hills
STEPHEN FOSTER: Gentle Annie
EIGTHTEENTH-CENTURY GLEE: Amo, amas, I love a lass
ERIC BOGLE: And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
ANTHONY DONATO: Homesick Blues
HANS LEO HASSLER: Cantate Domino
GABRIEL FAURÉ: Cantique de Jean Racine
Bob CHILCOTT Five Ways to Kill a Man
AMERICAN SPIRITUAL: Somebody’s Calling My Name
TRADITIONAL IRISH SONG: Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR SONG: When Johnny comes marching home
STEPHEN FOSTER: Hard Times Come Again No More
LEE HOIBY: Last Letter Home
JOSEPH GREGORIO: Dona nobis pacem
RANDALL THOMPSON: The God who gave us life
WELSH FOLK SONG: Men of Harlech
SCOTTISH AIR: Loch Lomond
On Great Lone Hills
Music: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
arr. H. Alexander Matthews
Words: Amy Sherman Bridgman
The great Finnish nationalist Jean Sibelius is best known for his tone poem Finlandia. On Great Lone Hills is the famous chorale tune from this large-scale orchestral work. The English text, one of several associated with the chorale, was written by the obscure New England poet Amy Sherman Bridgman. The stirring sentiments of Bridgman’s text bear no relation to the Finnish words set by Sibelius himself for mixed chorus.
Words and Music: Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw
This popular song was composed by Stephen Foster in 1856, perhaps based in part on an Irish melody. The lyrics, written by Foster himself, might have referred to any one of a number of women named Annie in his life. The strophic song’s repetitive verses were sensitively set for chorus by the great American choral musicians Alice Parker and Robert Shaw.
Amo, Amas, I Love a Lass
Music: Anonymous (Published in London, 1764)
arr. Marshall Bartholomew
Amo, Amas is a typical English glee, a short part song on a secular text made popular by male singing societies (Glee Clubs) in 18th century England. The song pokes fun at Latin grammar, with a macaronic text alternating between English and Latin, and affording the singers several opportunities to make amusing rhymes. This classic arrangement was written by Marshall Bartholomew, the legendary conductor of the Yale Glee Club from 1921 – 1953.
And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Words and Music: Eric Bogle
arr. Don Macdonald
James Weaver, baritone
Though born in Scotland, Eric Bogle has spent most of his life in Australia, and it was there that he wrote And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda in 1971. The song recounts the horrors of the disastrous World War I Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey in 1915. The story is told by a soldier, returning from battle, and the song contains only a small fragment of the famous Waltzing Matilda. Don Macdonald wrote the arrangement in 1994 for Chor Leoni in Vancouver, Canada.
Music: Anthony Donato (1909-1990)
Words: Langston Hughes
Anthony Donato was born in Prague, Nebraska and educated at the Eastman School of Music. His long career included work as a violinist, composer, conductor and educator at Drake University, Iowa State, the University of Texas and Northwestern University. He wrote music in virtually all genres, though little of it was for chorus. Homesick Blues is a haunting setting of a poem by Langston Hughes that contains stylistic elements of both blues and the spiritual.
Music: Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Words: Psalm 95
Hassler’s setting of Cantate Domino is one of the most popular Renaissance motets in the choral repertoire. The originally composed for mixed chorus, the men’s setting has maintained its popularity since it was arranged Harvard Glee Club conductor Archibald T. Davison in the early twentieth century. The celebratory nature of the text is highlighted by Hassler’s alternation of textures, from the uniformity of homophony to the duets between tenors and basses and the more exuberant polyphonic sections, where each part sings its own rhythm.
Cantique de Jean Racine
Music: Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
arr. K. Lee Scott
Words: Jean Racine
Gabriel Fauré wrote the Cantique when he was only 19 and it garnered him first prize in his class at the École Niedermeyer in Paris. The text, by 17th century dramatist Jean Racine, is a paraphrase of a traditional hymn. Though originally scored for mixed chorus and keyboard, the work has been re-arranged numerous times for all varieties of chorus and several different instrumental ensembles.
Five Ways to Kill a Man
Music: Bob Chilcott (b. 1955)
Words: Edwin Brock
Michael Hurlbut, percussion
Bob Chilcott, English singer, composer and conductor, is a former member of the a cappella group The King’s Singers. He was commissioned to set Five Ways to Kill a Man for Canada’s Chor Leoni and Sweden’s Orphei Drängar. The poem, by Englishman Edwin Brock, is a chilling, dispassionate commentary on war and the environment. Chilcott’s music, with percussion for added rhythmic emphasis, captures and enhances Brock’s words by employing madrigalisms (using the music to define specific words or phrases) and a bit of American jazz.
Somebody’s Calling My Name
arr. Wendell P. Whalum
James Weaver, baritone
Wendell Whalum was the legendary conductor of the Morehouse College Glee Club in Atlanta, and a prolific arranger of African-American Spirituals. Somebody’s Calling My Name was written for the Amherst College Glee Club and has become a favorite of men’s choruses in North America and around the world.
arr. Patrick Dupré Quigley
Words: Frederick Weatherly
Danny Boy is the most popular version of Londonderry Air, a traditional tune from Northern Ireland. The song’s lyrics were originally written for a different tune by modified by their author to fit this tune, which he preferred. Various interpretations of the text abound, but none take away from its universal appeal as the most popular of Irish folk songs. Patrick Quigley, composer and conductor, wrote this arrangement for the University of Notre Dame Glee Club when he was a student at the University and a member of the chorus.
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
American Civil War Song
Words: Patrick Gilmore (Louis Lambert)
arr. Peter J. Wilhousky
Frank Albinder, baritone
Some believe this popular American song has roots in Ireland, though there is no concrete evidence proving an Irish origin. The song was first published in the United States in 1863. The text, by bandleader Patrick Gilmore, was written for Gilmore’s sister whose fiancée was Union Light Artillery Captain John O’Rourke. Composer/Conductor Peter J. Wilhousky is most famous for his arrangements of Carol of the Bells and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, though this stirring version of Johnny deserves to become a classic in its own right.
Hard Times Come Again No More
Words and Music: Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
arr. Donald Moore
Hard times might be just the phrase to describe Stephen Foster’s life in 1855, when this song was published. He was separated from his wife in 1853, and both his parents and his best friend died in the year of the song’s publication. Foster’s lucrative songwriting contracts began to expire and he had to sell the future rights to his music to pay his debts. Though he was the composer of dozens of popular songs, because he didn’t perform them in public, he wasn’t well known and his works became known by the public as folk songs, rather than the works of one of America’s most talented composers.
Last Letter Home
Music: Lee Hoiby (b. 1926)
Words: Private First Class Jesse Givens
When revered American composer Lee Hoiby was approached to write the first work for the newly-formed Male Chorus Commissioning Consortium, he was drawn to a letter he had read in The New York Times. The article was about the history of final letters written by servicemen and women before going off to war. Hoiby writes, “Jesse Givens, Private First Class, U. S. Army, died in Iraq on May 1, 2003 in the service of his country, in his 34th year. He wrote a letter to his wife, Melissa, his five-year-old son, Dakota (nicknamed Toad), and his unborn child, Carson (nicknamed Bean). He asked Melissa not to open the envelope unless he was killed. ‘Please, only read it if I don’t come home,’ he wrote. ‘Please put it away and hopefully you will never have to read it.’”
Dona nobis pacem
Music: Joseph Gregorio (b. 1979)
Words: Traditional Latin Prayer
The young American composer Joseph Gregorio composed Dona nobis pacem for the Cornell University Glee Club, in which he sang as an undergraduate. He holds advanced degrees in conducting from Yale University and in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he now teaches. Dona nobis pacem makes use of extended tonal harmonies to create a lush tonal palette that takes full advantage of the rich, warm sound of the male chorus.
The Testament of Freedom
1. The God who gave us life
Music: Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Words: Thomas Jefferson
Randall Thompson’s classic, The Testament of Freedom, is dedicated “To the University of Virginia Glee Club, in memory of the Father of the University.” Thompson’s iconic settings of Jefferson’s historic words have been sung by countless choristers in the years since it was premiered on April 13, 1943. The work was written to celebrate the bicentennial of Jefferson’s birth, and the premiere performance was recorded and broadcast both nationwide and, via shortwave radio, to the Allied forces serving in Europe.
Men of Harlech!
Welsh Folk Song
Words: William Duthie
arr. Archibald T. Davison
Men of Harlech is one of the most popular songs in the Welsh choral repertoire. The original text commemorates the seven year long siege of Harlech Castle in the 15th century. A number of different versions of the text have been set to the tune, and the song has been used in film scores and as a school song in various countries around the world. The Davison arrangement was written for the Harvard Glee Club in the 1930s.
arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams
James Weaver, baritone
The origins of Loch Lomond are somewhat unclear, though it is believed that the song was first published in the mid-19th century. Vaughan Williams spent much of his career collecting, transcribing and arranging folks songs of the British Isles, some of which found their way into his large-scale works. His arrangement of Loch Lomond is one of his most popular, and can truly define the term “classic” in the male chorus repertoire.
Stout Hearted Men
Music: Sigmund Romberg
Words: Oscar Hammerstein II
arr. William Stickles
Stout Hearted Men is from The New Moon, the last of a trio of popular operettas composed by Sigmund Romberg for Broadway in the early 20th century (the others were The Desert Song and The Student Prince). It was premiered in 1928 and ran for more than two years, though it probably achieved its greatest fame from the 1930 film version starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.