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Program Notes - March 12, 2022, Spokane, Washington

Northwest Region Conference of the ACDA

"We Are Glad"

There could hardly be a better name for this conference than "Hearts All Whole." Chor Anno picks up on Dan Schreiner's choral setting of the Braithwaite poem and says "WE ARE GLAD"...both for ACDA's title and for all the healing music we have heard this week. We'd like to think that our choice of music forms a miniature book to sum it all up.  From the "gift of song" to the "edge of tomorrow," we sing of hope. Even in the profound grief that things happen beyond our control, the fire of music will not go out! And, whatever our life views, we feel certain we can find a light within us, shed the chains of the human condition...and enjoy the ride! For it's true that "Nothing can dim the light that shines within us." (Maya Angelou)

PROLOGUE

I Am Glad ................Daniel Schreiner (lyrics by William Stanley Braithwaite (1878-1961) Santa Barbara MP1611

Courtney Rowley - Soprano

 

Daniel Schreiner (b. 1990) is back with Chor Anno after receiving his Master's degree in Choral Conducting from Central Washington University. Daniel serves as the Music Supervisor for Mane Stage Theatre Company in Puyallup, WA, teaches K-5 Music in Maple Valley, WA, and sings with the PLU Choral Union, Resonate, the Wellspring Ensemble, as well as Chor Anno.

I am glad daylong for the gift of song,

For time and change and sorrow;

For the sunset wings and the world-end things

Which hang on the edge of tomorrow.

I am glad for my heart whose gates apart

Are the entrance-place of wonders,

Where dreams come in from the rush and din

Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

EXILED IN CHAINS/I HEAR A GRACE

A Silence Haunts Me...........music by Jake Runestad, lyrics by Todd Boss  - Jake Runestad Publisher JR007

Brian Hoskins - Piano


In 1802, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a letter to his brothers. In it, he despairs over his increasing deafness, confesses to thoughts of ending his life, and expresses his desire to overcome his hearing loss and continue his creative legacy. This letter, now called the Heiligenstadt Testament, was found after his death having never been sent. 14 years after penning the letter, Beethoven was completely deaf. Despite his disability, he continued with his art and created countless works that have become cornerstones of Western music. The work you're about to hear, written in 2018 by poet Todd Boss and composer Jake Runestad, is a musical adaptation of that letter. This new work invites you to empathize, for a time, with the great composer, as he agonizes over the impending loss of the asset he holds most dear. Here is the text just as provided in the score.


 after Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament by Todd Boss

 

Hear me brothers I have a confession painful to make

Six years I have endured a curse that deepens every day

They say that soon I'll  cease to hear the very music of my soul 

What should be the sense most perfect in me fails me shames me taunts me

A  silence haunts me
They ask me 

Do you hear the shepherd singing faroff soft 

They ask me 

Do you hear a distant fluting dancing joyously aloft 

No...I think  so...  No...I think so...  No

 

God am I Prometheus exiled  in chains for gifting humankind my fire   

Take my feeling 

Take my sight 

Take my wings midflight but let me hear

the searing roar of air before I score the ground   

 

Why Silence is God's reply

and so I beg me take my life 

 

when lo I hear a grace 
and feel a ringing in me after all 

 

So now as leaves of autumn fall 

I make my mark and sign my name

and turn again to touch my flame of music to the world

a broken man as best I can 

 

As ever 
Faithfully Yours

A bell...A bell
Hear me and be well

 

TEARLESS MORN

O Love...............Elaine Hagenberg (Lyrics by George Matheson (1842-1906)  Beckenhorst Press BP2171

Sung by tenors/basses of Chor Anno.  Kevin Hekmatpanah, Cello, Brian Hoskins, piano.
 

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

 

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

 

The poetry for “O Love, that will not let me go” was written by George Matheson (1842-1906). Matheson graduated with honors from Glasgow University at the early age of 19. As he completed his studies, he discovered that he was rapidly going blind from an incurable condition. While at University he had met and fallen in love with a woman who was a fellow student. They were planning on marriage. Would she still marry him after he broke the news of his impending blindness? To his astonishment and deep sadness, her blunt answer came to him with the force of a dagger to his heart, “I do not want to be the wife of a blind man,” she said. And with that, they parted.


Matheson never married. Some years later, at the occasion of the wedding of his sister, the memory of that rebuff came flooding back and he penned his most famous poem, “O love.” 


The poem, of course, has deep meaning to him in addition to reference to his “lost” love. He had become a minister, serving at St. Bernard’s Parish Church in Edinburgh. His poem (in its entirety) reflects his deep faith.

PURE JOY

I'll Be On My Way......Shawn Kirchner (b. 1970)  Shawn Kirchner Publishing

Erik Edmundson - Baritone, Matt Pierce - Baritone, Brian Hoskins - Piano


When I am gone 

Don't you cry for me
Don't you pity my sorry soul
What pain there might have been

Will now be passed

And my spirit will be whole.

I'll be on my way, I'll be on my way
I'll have left my feet of clay upon the ground

I will be glory bound
I'll be on my way

When I am gone 

Please forgive the wrong that I might have done.
There'll be no room for regrets up there above,
Way beyond the blue.

When I am gone,

don't you look for me in the places I have been.
I'll be alive but somewhere else, I'll be on my way again.
I'll be on my way, I'll be on my way.


I'll lift my wings and soar into the air

There'll be glory everywhere,

I'll be on my way.

I'll be on my way, I'll be on my way
I'll have laid my frown and all my burdens down
I'll be putting on my crown
I'll be on my way.

I'll have left my feet of clay upon the ground
I will be glory bound
I'll be on my way.

Whether one takes the lyrics literally or metaphorically, there is in fact a sense of "pure joy" in this piece.

Shawn Kirchner says: "I've reflected 'at a distance' on I'll Be On My Way in the years since its writing---and what I come to more and more is that it is about freedom, spiritual freedom. The idea of motion, of release, of energy, of flight, of light, even, and the speed of it---somehow all of those energies are present in the words and notes of I'll Be On My Way." A member of an honor choir Nicole conducted in Minnesota in February, 2022,  (when asked to complete a statement beginning with "Music is"...wrote) My flight--- it helps me and others be lifted from their pain and sorrow, to grow nearer the sky. We agree...both with Shawn and with the unnamed, but very perceptive student!

About Chor Anno

Chor Anno is made up of outstanding choral musicians from all over the NW. Many are well known for their artistry as conductors, but now they perform from the other side of the music stand. They sing because they love to sing...and they love reaching new heights with colleagues who share this obsession in finding the depths of what great music can offer. In doing so, they enrich their lives and the lives of those who come to hear them sing.

We like to believe that "Chor Anno" means "The annual choir." It's probably a stretch of both German and Latin to say this, but we argue...it's a name, not a translation. This 32 member group meets in August for two and one half days of rehearsal, then sings ONE weekend in September! That's the norm. Hence, the "once a year" thing.

To sing for you for this prestigious event in Spokane is an honor. Thanks to NWACDA for inviting us to perform for you!

Dr. Nicole Lamartine, Conductor
Nicole directs the choral music program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 2008-20 she was DCA at the University of Wyoming where her choirs were honored to sing at several national and regional conferences and where she was awarded the U of Wyoming's highest teaching award, the Ellbogen Award for Meritorious Classroom Teaching. Nicole has sung with Chor Anno since 2012 and was asked to assume the chief conductor role by founder Howard Meharg in 2019.  She served ACDA as president of the Northwestern Region from 2016-2018. She holds world and state records in powerlifting, demonstrating that creativity is intertwined with strength of body and mind.

 

 J. Howard Meharg, Founder and Associate Conductor              
Howard’s career as a teacher spanned over 30 years in the schools of  Castle Rock, Kelso, and Longview, Washington. In addition to his school choral work, he directed church choir, community groups, and in 1982 founded Male Ensemble Northwest (along with colleagues Larry Marsh and  Bruce Browne), a group that continues to astound audiences with virtuosity today. He founded Chor Anno in 2009. This group is based on the same idea...that choral directors sing beautifully and that they thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to do so. 

Brian Hoskins, Keyboard Artist
Brian has degrees in music education from WSU and from the Steinhardt School at New York University. He is the choral director at Nelsen Middle School and Lindbergh High School in Renton, Washington. He is a two-time recipient of the "Ahead of the Class: Excellence in Teaching Award" given to outstanding teachers by the Renton Chamber of Commerce. Brian studied choral conducting in New York with Francisco Nuñez, founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City and world-renowned composer. He performs with the Wes Weddell "Super Band" throughout the year. Brian is director of the Rainier Youth Choir's Young Men's Ensemble and conducts the RYC's Consonare. (The RYC is a group founded by Chor Anno member, Leora Schwitters.)

 

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