The Heritage Singers of Jacksonville
Michael Dell, Artistic Director
Ashley Wilkinson, pianist
Shannon Palmer, Sign Language Interpreter
- THE RAREST GIFT arranged by Edwin Fissinger
- EL NOI DE LA MARE (CAROL OF THE GIFTS) arranged by John Rutter
- WE THREE KINGS by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., arranged by Darmon Meader
- WHAT SWEETER MUSIC by John Rutter
- MARY'S LITTLE BOY CHILE by Jester Hairston
—Rosemarie Bacher, soprano
- THE GIFT by Joseph Brackett, Jr., arranged by Bob Chilcott
- THOU WHO WAST RICH arranged by Molly Ijames
- THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY by Davis, Onorati & Simeone, arranged by Philip Kern
—Barbara Ebers, soprano
- GIFTS FOR THE CHILD OF WINTER by Bob Chilcott
—Greg McMillan, tenor
- BETELEHEMU Olatunj & Whalum, transcribed by Jonathan Crutchfield
- HABARI GANI (WHAT'S THE NEWS?) by Wesley Whatley, arranged by Larry Hochman —Cedric Williams, tenor
- LIGHT THE LEGEND, A SONG FOR CHANUKAH by Michael Isaacson
- I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Walter Kent, arranged by Mark Hayes
- THE MAN WITH THE BAG/SANTA BABY arranged by Paul Langford
- THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS arranged by Bob Chilcott
—Ana Lugo, percussionist
- THE WORLD FOR CHRISTMAS by Anders Edenroth
SELECTED RELATED LIBRARY RESOURCESThe Heritage Singers of Jacksonville is a nonprofit organization of gifted singers dedicated to enriching the community through the preparation and performance of high quality choral music that is reflective of our common and individual heritages. By fostering admiration and respect throughout its ranks, the Heritage Singers is in the very best sense a community chorus. heritagesingersjacksonville.com
- 782.42163 H732 1992 [MUSIC SCORE]
Holiday Songbook / by Jerry Silverman
- 782.421723 LANKFORD 2013
Sleigh rides, jingle bells, & silent nights : a cultural history of American Christmas songs / Ronald D. Lankford, Jr.
- 782.280723 M542jo 2001
Joy to the world : sacred Christmas songs throughout the ages / Albert J. Menendez
- 782.281723 S933chr 1995
The Christmas carol reader / William E. Studwell
- 783.6 R 1959
The English carol / Erik Routley
- 264.23 C
Stories behind the best-loved songs of Christmas / Ace Collins
Ashley Wilkinson, an Information Systems Analyst for Gibraltar Industries, has been the pianist and organist at Arlington Congregational Church since 2006. In addition to accompanying the church choir, he makes arrangements for weekly worship services and special celebrations. His current passion is composing works for piano and choir, including the cantata The Sounds of Christmas (2011) on original verses interspersed with scriptural texts.
Shannon Palmer earned a degree in Deaf Education from the University of Texas, Austin, and has worked at the Texas School for the Deaf and the Tennessee School for the Deaf. She has been an interpreter for over 20 years, and enjoys pairing the beauty of sign language with the rhythms of music
The Heritage Singers of Jacksonville
SOPRANOS Rosemarie Bacher, Real Estate Broker Erin Barnes, Teacher Rebecca Black, Attorney Immigration Law Barbara Davis, Telecommunications, Artist and Vocalist Barbara Ebers, Teacher, Duval County Public Schools Bonnie Cowling, Master Artist, Cultural Council Jacksonville Ann Marie Grymes, Process Manager for AT&T Jan Hiland, Global Workforce Manager, CDC, Retired Juliet Johnson, Writer Karen Koster Burr, Intellectual Property Attorney Mary Ann Lindsey, Flight Attendant, Retired Karen Pabian, Teacher, Palmer Catholic Academy Nancy Silki, Registered Nurse, Healthcare Mediator Debbie Snead, Management Assistant of Business Services, Mayport Laurie Sparks, Music Education, Duval County Public Schools Susan Takis, PC(USA) Minister of Word and Sacrament Barbara Vanderhoff, Poet, Storyteller Ann Wingate, Interior Designer ALTOS Linda S. Andrews, Music Teacher, Choir Director, Retired Deborah Dell, Owner, Sage Advice Vitamins and Consignment Robin Fennell, Advertising Sally Goodyear, State Farms Claims, Retired Faye Harrington, Administrative Assistant Rosanna Kelly, Music Education, Duval County Public Schools, Retired Ana L. Lugo, Gift Planner, ELCA Foundation Martie May, Dental Hygienist, Retired Sally Offen, Executive Assistant Melissa McCrosky, School Counselor, Clay County Public Schools Carmen West, Choir Director, School Teacher, Retired Doris Whalen, French Instructor, Retired Jane Wytzka, Career and Executive Coach, Career Cabal TENORS David Dunkley, Sr., Banker, Retired John Kauffman, Database Administrator Greg McMillan, Interior Arranger Ronald Pabian, Banker Cedric Williams, Church Musician BASSES Earl M. Barker, Jr., Lawyer, Slott, Barker & Nussbaum Steve Benz, Presbytery Executive, Presbytery of St. Augustine Claude Cassady, Naval Sea Systems Command, Retired Charlie Eddins, President, Renco Corporation Aaron Scott Long, Minister of Music, Village Church John Ruvane, Retired
PROGRAM NOTES by Edward Lein, Music Librarian
(Click on the selection titles for online recordings or samples available on YouTube or elsewhere)
During his 45-year-long career, conductor and composer Dr. Edwin R. Fissinger (1920-1990) wrote over 180 choral works, in addition to orchestral, piano and vocal compositions. A student of noted composer Leo Sowerby, Fissinger taught at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, the University of Illinois and the North Dakota State University. The Rarest Gift is his 1977 arrangement of the 15th-Century French carol, Noël nouvelet (Christmas Comes Anew), one of the earliest European carols still regularly performed today. Fissinger’s version is for mixed voices (SATB) and percussion, on an English text of the composer’s own devising.
British composer and conductor John Rutter (b. 1945) is perhaps the most successful choral composer of his generation, with works such as his Gloria (1976) and Requiem (1986) firmly established as staples of the repertoire. He founded the Cambridge Singers in 1981 to perform and record his own compositions as well as a variety of choral works by other composers, and he also founded his own record label, Collegium Records. El Noi de la Mare (Carol of the Gifts) is an arrangement of a Catalan lullaby for either solo or unison voices, published in 2009.
We Three Kings for a Christmas pageant sung by his family members, most likely in 1857. The pageant was given at the General Theological Seminary in New York City where Hopkins taught music after having been graduated from the Seminary himself. Composer, arranger, vocalist and jazz saxophonist Darmon Meader is the founder and music director of New York Voices. His lively version of Hopkins’ carol dates from 2004, and is an a cappella arrangement for mixed voices (SATB) with optional percussion.
What Sweeter Music (1988) is an original carol by John Rutter on a popular Christmas text by English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674). Originally for mixed voices with keyboard or orchestral accompaniment, Rutter also prepared a version just for sopranos and altos.
In addition to being a composer, songwriter, arranger and choral conductor, Jester Hairston (1901–2000) was an actor who appeared in more than 20 movies and more than a dozen television shows, including the recurring role of “Rolly Forbes” in the NBC sitcom Amen (1986-1991). He got his start as a performer on Broadway as a member of the Hall Johnson Choir, but almost got fired because his Boston accent made his pronunciation of the required Southern-African-American dialect rather unconvincing. The Choir made the move to Hollywood for film work in 1936, and soon thereafter Hairston entered into a 30-year collaboration with film composer Dimitri Tiomkin. Among other honors and awards, the U.S. State Department made Hairston a Goodwill Ambassador in 1961. First recorded by Harry Belafonte for a best-selling 1956 release, the tune for Mary's Little Boy Chile started out as a calypso-inspired birthday song, but Hairston reworked it to fill a request for a new Christmas piece from The Voices Of Walter Schumann, a Hollywood choral group.
Bob Chilcott (b. 1955) practically grew up in a choir loft so it is fitting that he frequently is identified as “a contemporary hero of British Choral music.” Chilcott sang with the Choir of King's College (Cambridge, England) as a boy soprano soloist, and beginning in 1985 he sang tenor for a dozen years with the world-famous King’s Singers. From 1997-2004 he was conductor of the chorus of The Royal College of Music, and he has been the principal guest conductor of the BBC Singers since 2002. Chilcott’s The Gift is a 1989 arrangement of the Shaker dancing song Simple Gifts that Aaron Copland made famous in Appalachian Spring (1944). Although the tune is frequently identified merely as “traditional,” the original words and melody were actually written around 1848 by Joseph Brackett, Jr. (1797-1882), an Elder in the Shaker community. Chilcott’s version for mixed voices makes use of new lyrics by Tony Vincent Isaacs, and has an optional piano part.
A graduate of Bob Jones University, since 2006 composer Molly Ijames has been an editor at SoundForth, the music-publishing branch of BJU Press. She has won several awards for her choral music, including the 2008 John Ness Beck Foundation Award, and gives workshops in congregational and choral accompanying. Thou Who Wast Rich is an arrangement of the traditional French carol Quelle est cette odeur agréable? (Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing?, often cited in hymnals as “Bergers” or “Fragrance”), a tune John Gay used in 1728 in his Beggar’s Opera. Ijames’s version is for mixed voices and piano, and uses the text by Frank Houghton (1894-1972) that is included in a number of English-language hymnals.
Written in 1941 by Katharine Kennicot Davis (1892-1980) and originally published as Carol of the Drum, The Little Drummer Boy is based on a traditional Czech carol. In 1958, record producer Henry Onorati and choral conductor Harry Simeone (1911-2005) prepared a slightly-altered version that has since become the standard. The present arrangement for mixed voices is by Philip Kern, an Associate Professor of Music and choral conductor at Marian University (Indianapolis, Indiana), who earlier in his career worked as a conductor and keyboard player for Broadway musicals in New York City.
First published in April of this year, Gifts for the Child of Winter is a new original composition by Bob Chilcott featuring tenor solo with choral accompaniment. The text is by award-winning British poet Dr. Charles Bennett, who regularly collaborates with the composer.
Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji (1927-2003) came to the United States in 1950 on scholarship to study Diplomacy at Morehouse College in Atlanta. While there he worked with choral director Wendell P. Whalum (1931-1987) on Betelehemu (Bethlehem), an adaptation of a Nigerian Christmas carol on a Yoruba text. Now a staple of the choral repertoire, their original version from the mid-1950s was for men's voices and percussion. Composer Jonathan Crutchfield (b. 1959), the current Minister of Music at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, prepared his transcription for mixed voices for a 2002 publication.
Awa yi o ri Baba gbo jule,
Awa yi o ri Baba fehinti.
Nibo labi Jesu, nibo labi bii?
Betelehemu ilu ara,
Nibo labi Baba o daju.
Iyin, iyin, iyin nifuno.
Adupe fun o jooni,
Baba olo reo.
We rejoice in having a trustworthy Father,
We rejoice in having a reliable Father.
Where was Jesus born, where was He born?
In Bethlehem, that wondrous city,
That certainly is where the Father was born.
Praise, praise, praise be to Him.
We thank You for this day,
Subtitled “A Song to Celebrate Kwanzaa,“ Habari Gani (What's the News?) was composed by Stetson University graduate Wesley Whatley in collaboration with lyricist William Schermerhorn. Whatley, a two-time Emmy nominee and a 2011 Emmy Award winner, is creative manager for Macy's Parade & Entertainment Group, for which Schermerhorn is creative director. Composer and arranger Larry Hochman (b. 1953), himself a winner of four Emmys and a Tony Award, prepared this 2012 arrangement for mixed voices and percussion, also allowing for a string bass part.
Composer, arranger, conductor, producer and educator Michael Isaacson, Ph.D. (b. 1946) has been honored as “one of the ten most influential living composers of Jewish music.” The founding Artistic Director of The Israel Pops Orchestra and the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, he has published over 600 Jewish and secular compositions, and produced over 50 CDs and album recordings. Written on a text by Susan Nuremberg, Light the Legend, A Song for Chanukah, was first published in 1974 as a song with piano accompaniment, with the choral version following in 1978.
The popular standard I'll Be Home for Christmas became an instant hit for crooner Bing Crosby when originally released in 1943, so it’s hard to imagine that composer Walter Kent (1911-1944) had been unable to find a publisher prior to convincing his golf buddy to record it. Composed during the height of World War II to lyrics by Kim Gannon (1900-1974), the song was championed by the U.S. War Dept. and became among the most-requested songs during USO shows for the troops. Yet in spite of its success with the Yanks, the ”...if only in my dreams” ending caused the song to be banned from airplay in Great Britain for fear that the melancholy tone would be demoralizing to their troops! Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Mark Hayes is an award-winning composer, arranger, concert pianist and conductor with over 1000 publications in print. This arrangement for mixed voices (SATB) and piano is one of several versions he published in 2010.
Paul Langford is a Chicago-based singer, arranger, keyboardist, producer and conductor. He has arranged for and performed with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicagoland Pops, and the Pensacola and LaCrosse Symphony Orchestras. He also has played Walt Disney World, and has performed or recorded with Celine Dion, David Foster, Kenny Rogers and Yolanda Adams, among many others. For this jazzy arrangement Langford combines two pop hits about Jolly Old St. Nick. Written in 1950 by Irving Taylor, Dudley Brooks and Hal Stanley, (Everybody's Waitin' for) The Man with the Bag was a big success for Kay Starr; three years later Eartha Kitt immortalized the saucy Santa Baby, written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer.
No concert about “Winter Gifts” would be complete without the traditional English carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. By counting off the days between Christmas and Twelfth Night (Epiphany) with increasingly extravagant presents (at least in terms of poultry and live entertainment...), it gives Santa Baby a grand jeté for the money. For his version of the holiday classic, Bob Chilcott provides a flexible arrangement including one or two pianos with or without one or two percussionists—and a bunch of surprise “guest” appearances along the way. (And with the final “Hobbit” film installment waiting in the wings, Chilcott seemingly makes is own bid as “Lord of the Rings”!)
The World for Christmas is an original work for a cappella mixed voices (with optional piano) by Swedish composer Anders Edenroth (b. 1963). Written in 2012 on an English text by the composer (and with a nod to Clement Clarke Moore), it presents the tender prayer of a newborn infant whose Christmas wish list has only one item: a world spared from wasteful destruction so it can be enjoyed for—and by—generations to come.