February 10, 2008: The Delights of Song

UNF Chorale | UNF Chamber Singers | UNF Women’s Chorus
Cara Tasher, conductor | Anna Frederick, assistant conductor | Timothy Tuller, piano

Folksongs from Timor, by Eurico Carrapatoso
* Loik
* Lilo eh!
Diu Diu Deng (Taiwan), by Chen Yi

Богородице Дево, радуйся (Rejoice, O Virgin), by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118, by Ludwig van Beethoven
Innsbruck ich muss dich lassen, by Heinrich Isaac
Fair Phyllis, by John Farmer

Sorida (Zimbabwe), by Rosephanye Powell
South African Freedom Songs, by Anders Nyberg
* Siyahamba
* Freedom is Coming
* We shall not give up the fight
Zungo (Nigeria), by Uzee Brown, Jr.
Jambo (Kenya), by Boniface Mganga

S’wonderful, by George Gershwin
Armor of Light, by Owen Burdick
Blow the Candles Out, by Gregg Smith
And So it Goes, by Billy Joel
Olha o Rojão (Brazil), by Fernando Lopes-Graça
Milonguera (Argentina), by Oscar Escalada
Amor de mi alma, by Z. Randall Stroope
Elijah Rock (Spiritual), by Moses Hogan

The UNF Chorale has been entertaining audiences since UNF opened its doors, performing in a wide variety of styles from early a cappella masterpieces to rousing spirituals. Gathering enthusiastic singers from every college across the University, the non-auditioned 60-member group has toured extensively throughout the southern United States and abroad in Portugal, Austria and the Czech Republic, and members will attend the International Federation of Choral Music's World Symposium of Choral Music in Denmark this summer. The Chorale recently gave the U.S. premieres of both Eurico Carrapatoso's Magnificat and Miguel Roig-Francoli’s Dona eis Requiem.

The UNF Chamber Singers is an auditioned ensemble of 16-20 singers from the UNF Chorale, and their ambitious repertoire ranges from Renaissance through Contemporary classics to vocal jazz. Performing at a professional level, the group has won praise and recognition from delighted audiences including the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the Jacksonville Jaguars and fans, the River City Club, the Selva Marina, and many local associations. This spring they will perform Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Suite de Lorca and J.S. Bach’s Jesu meine Freude.

UNF Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Voice Dr. Cara Tasher has sung and recorded under the batons of Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Daniel Barenboim, Sir George Solti, Claudio Abbado, James Levine and Christoph Eschenbach, and has appeared as soloist in such prestigious concert venues as Chicago's Grant Park, New York's Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and in Dublin's National Concert Hall. She has conducted throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States, and has prepared numerous professional organizations for performance. Dr. Tasher holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the University of Texas at Austin, La Sorbonne, and Northwestern University, and received the prestigious Presser Music Award to conduct research at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.

Assistant conductor Anna Frederick is in her senior year at the University of North Florida where she is majoring in Piano Performance. Ms. Frederick has been studying with Dr. Tasher for the past two years, and this is her first year as Assistant Conductor. After graduation Anna hopes to remain in the Jacksonville area to pursue a career in music education.

Timothy Tuller was selected as Canon for Music at Jacksonville's St. John's Cathedral in January 2007 after an international search to fill the position, and he immediately assumed an active role in the broader musical life of the First Coast, participating in the area's first Community Choral Festival in March 2007, and serving as accompanist for local choral groups, including the Orange Park Chorale and the UNF Chorale. A summa cum laude graduate of Ithaca College, Mr. Tuller received the valedictory prize upon earning his Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Before moving to Jacksonville Tim was Music Associate at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, and Assistant Organist at the University of the South.

PROGRAM NOTES by Ed Lein (©2008)

Award-winning Portuguese composer and professor of music Eurico Carrapatoso (b.1962) began composing in 1987, and among his numerous international performances since was the U.S. premiere of his Magnificat in 2007, sung by the UNF Chorale. His Folksongs from Timor are based on songs from the former Portuguese colony in the Malay Archipelago which became the independent Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (a.k.a. East Timor) in 2002.

In 1986, Chen Yi (b. 1953), now on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, became the first woman to receive an advanced degree in music composition in China. The recipient of numerous international composition prizes and fellowships, Dr. Chen has published several Chinese folksong settings, including the charming Diu Diu Deng, from Taiwan.
  Going up to the mountain tunnel, the water in the cave is dripping down.
  Going up to the tea mountain, enjoy looking at the tea-picking girls.

The lush harmonies and sweeping melodies that characterize the orchestral music of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) assure him a continuing place in the world’s concert halls, and his choral music has an equally devoted following among aficionados. His Rejoice, O Virgin is the sixth of the fifteen movements in All-night Vigil, Op. 37 (sometimes imprecisely referred to as his Vespers), composed in 1915 on Church Slavonic texts. It is one of five movements from the Vigil not derived directly from Orthodox liturgical chants, but the composer was so successful in adapting the style that he called it a “conscious counterfeit.”
  Rejoice, O virgin mother of God, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee:
  blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
  for thou hast borne the savior of our souls.

The great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) has remained the best known Western classical composer for two centuries. In his Elegiac Song, Op. 118, composed in 1814 for a friend whose wife had died in childbirth, Beethoven tenderly sets an anonymous German text, which translates:
  Gently, as you lived, thus have you died, too holy for sorrow!
  Let no eye shed tears for the heavenly spirit’s return home.

Heinrich Isaac (ca.1450-1517) was a prolific Franco-Flemish composer who was among the best known and most influential masters of the early Renaissance. His most famous work is Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen (Innsruch, I Now Must Leave Thee), written as a sad farewell to the town where he was working prior to moving to Italy. It is thought that the melody may have been adapted from a folksong.

John Farmer (ca.1570-1601) is a lesser-known English Renaissance madrigalist who nonetheless wrote one of the best-known part-songs of the age, offering in Fair Phyllis (published in 1599) an amusing study in word painting and wordplay.

Rosephanye Powell, associate Professor of Music at Auburn University, is an internationally recognized composer and arranger of choral music as well as a successful soprano soloist. Sorida is based on a greeting of the Shona language of Zimbabwe, and this original composition uses percussion and layered vocal patterns to capture the spirit of African music.

Composer and choral conductor Anders Nyberg (b.1955) divides his time between his native Sweden and South Africa. His acclaimed versions of South African songs of praise and protest have been performed globally and translated into a number of different languages.

Operatic baritone, choral conductor and composer Uzee Brown, Jr. heads the Music Department at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, and he is a published authority on the contributions of African American composers of the twentieth century. His arrangement of the plaintive Nigerian folk song Zungo expresses the longing for one’s homeland.

Composer and Deputy Secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Boniface Mganga received international acclaim with Missa Luba, a choral mass that uses a polyrhythmic style typical of Kenya’s vocal tradition. Jambo, which means “Hello” in Swahili, is based on a greeting song from Kenya.

George Gershwin (1898-1937) wrote his first song in 1916 and his first Broadway musical in 1919, and he continued to produce songs for musicals and films until the end of his life. With lyrics by his brother Ira, S’wonderful first appeared on Broadway in the 1927 musical Funny Face. Veteran choral arranger Dick Thompson provides the setting for today’s concert.

Owen Burdick, the organist and Director of Music of Trinity Church in New York City, is well respected as a composer, and his 1988 oratorio, Paschal Triptych: A King Portrait, was nominated for an EMMY award. Rich harmonies and natural meters characterize Armor of Light and capture the sentiments of the text which warns listeners to cast away works of darkness.

Since 1955, Gregg Smith (b.1931) has been best known as the leader of one of the country’s premier choral groups, The Gregg Smith Singers, but he has been composing since he was five years old and his catalog of mature compositions includes over 400 works. Smith has a special affinity for Americana, and the Colonial tune Blow the Candle Out was first printed in 1720 in a publication entitled Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy.

Pop icon Billy Joel (b.1949) rocketed to stardom in 1973 with the release of his second album, Piano Man, and three and a half decades later he is counted as the sixth best-selling recording artist in the United States. Joel’s ballad And So It Goes was arranged by British composer Bob Chilcott (b.1955) when he was singing tenor with the King’s Singers, and it remains one of that groups most frequently requested selections.

Portuguese composer and musicologist Fernando Lopes-Graça (1906-1994) made hundreds of arrangements of Portuguese folksongs, taking special care to preserve the integrity of his source material while at the same time providing widely varied musical settings. His cautionary Olha o Rojao warns, “Watch out for the firecracker! It may explode in your hands!”

The Vice President of the Argentine Association for Choral Music and a music professor at the Conservatory of La Plata, Oscar Escalada is in constant demand as a choral conductor and clinician, and his compositions enjoy frequent international performances. In Milonguera he uses nonsense words to heighten the effect of the piece’s tango-like rhythms.

Z. Randall Stroope is the Director of Choral Studies at Rowan University in New Jersey, and his compositions typically sell over 200,000 copies a year. The text of Amor de mi Alma (“The Love of my Soul”) was written by Spanish soldier-poet Garcilaso de la Vega (ca.1501-1536).

Before succumbing to cancer, composer and choral director Moses Hogan (1957-2003) was much sought after as one of the world's leading interpreters of Spirituals. He arranged and conducted selections for the 1995 PBS television documentary, The American Promise, and his arrangements remain a staple of school, community and professional choirs.

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