College Community Chorus Past Programs

2016/2017 season

College Community Chorus staff faculty students

Our Spring 2017 program

We performed music that celebrates the wonder of star-filled nights and an awakening to new possibilities, from a rarely heard song by Beethoven to traditional African music and breathtaking new works by contemporary American composers:

Elegischer Gesang by Beethoven and Let nothing ever grieve thee (Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren) by Brahms (both accompanied by strings)
    -- beautifully crafted pieces that speak of hope in the midst of grief.

Across the vast, eternal sky by Ola Gjeilo (with piano and strings) with words by Charles Silvestri
    -- inspired by the legend of the phoenix: 'This is my grace, to be restored, born again, in flame; do not despair that I am gone away; I will appear again when the sunset paints flames across the vast eternal sky.'

Shosholoza. From the African continent, a description from http://blog.firelightfoundation.org/2011/06/01
    -- Shosholoza began as a traditional song for miners traveling back and forth between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The word Shosholoza is a combination of both Ndebele (of Zimbabwe) and Zulu (of South Africa) words meaning “to push forward, endeavor, or strive.”
 

Choose something like a star by Randall Thompson, text by Robert Frost.
      -- a setting familiar to many of us… 'it asks of us a certain height, so when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be staid.'

Fresh and Fearless (May Night) by Daniel Elder, text by Sara Teasdale
    -- an energetic setting by Daniel Elder (we sang his Lullaby last spring): 'The spring is fresh and fearless and every leaf is new… Here in the moving shadows I catch my breath and sting—My hear is fresh and fearless and over-brimmed with spring.'

Sure on this Shining Night by Samuel Barber and Morten Lauridsen, text by James Agee
   -- we sang Barber's shorter setting of this classic text (a contemporary of Randall Thompson, Barber is perhaps best known for "Adagio for Strings"), and reprised one of our all-time favorite pieces Morten Lauridsen. 

The Awakening, with words and music by Joseph M. Martin recommended by Tim Guiles (thank you!)
    -- the lyrics portray a dream where there is no song, no choir sang to change the world, only silence… then we 'Awake! All voices join as one. Let music live!'

Our Fall 2016 program

This season’s program included historical works from the European choral tradition alongside breathtaking contemporary works written during the past decade. The songs featured celebratory psalm texts with a Thanksgiving theme, as well as music with words that reflect the changing seasons and a longing for justice and peace, important to so many people at this time.

The choir prepared the Chandos Anthem No. 9 by Baroque composer George Frederic Handel. Its four choruses – reminiscent of the spirited music found in his Messiah – contain dramatic shifts in textures and harmonies, scored for string orchestra and oboe. The program also included Mozart’s expressive Ave verum corpus, a traditional text from the Roman Catholic tradition.

The chorus welcomed the change of seasons with music by Zachary J. Moore, one of a new generation of American choral composers. With beautiful melodies, he vividly paints the poem October Song, written by Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland. In O Notte (O Night), completed just a few months ago, distinguished conductor-composer Z. Randall Stroope dramatically scores selected phrases of poems by Michelangelo, “O night, in dreams you carry me where I desire,” and Friedrich Rückert, “Du bist die Ruh” (You are rest), for choir, piano, solo violin and cello.

Distinguished arranger, composer and conductor Craig Hella Johnson creates a lyrical musical setting the words of Mattie Stepanek’s Psalm of Life, written just before Thanksgiving 2003. Mattie, a published poet and peace advocate, died a month before his 14th birthday from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. From the Hebrew tradition, contemporary composer Allan Naplan sets the text of Al Shlosha D'varim: truth, justice, and peace sustain the world. The inspirational words of Mother Teresa, "If we have not peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other," provide the foundation for an award-winning 2010 work by Pacific Northwest composer Joan Szymko.


2015/16 season

Our Spring 2016 program

The choir opened the program with the Magnificat by eighteenth-century Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. With a text that dates back to the first century, its nine sections contain a variety of choral styles. Dramatic shifts in textures and harmonies bring life to the words of Mary, sung when she learned that she would become the mother of the Messiah. String players from the Vermont Symphony, Champlain Philharmonic, Middlebury Community Music Center, and the College Orchestra accompany the chorus.

The program featured a fascinating juxtaposition of works from around the world, including selections performed by the student a cappella ensemble Ingoma that specializes in singing African music. Unique choral arrangements of lullabies include Hombe, a Luo folksong from Kenya, and the South African songs Thula Baba (Hush my baby). In contrasting style, the Chorus sang a newly composed work by American writer Daniel Elder, simply entitled Lullaby, and the beautiful Seal Lullaby, with a text by Rudyard Kipling and music by Eric Whitacre.

The chorus welcomed the change of seasons and flowering of spring with a new setting of the classic Robert Burns text, A Red, Red Rose, by Nashville composer Kevin Memley; Enjura, an Ugandan song that depicts the coming of the rains to end the dry season; and a popular Israeli song, Josef Hadar's Erev Shel Shoshamin that describes how night falls slowly while the winds carry the scent of roses. The program closed with a brand new setting by Wisconsin composer Zachary Moore of Alfred Lord Tennyson's classic text, There is Sweet Music Here.

Rehbach notes, "The program offers singers and audience the opportunity to experience a variety of choral styles from across the globe and across the centuries. We place songs that arise from long-held traditions alongside with expressive writing for chorus and piano music by a new generation of American composers born between 1970 and 1992."

Our Fall 2015 program

For our annual Thanksgiving concert, we featured uplifting classical choruses by Johann Sebastian Bachand Felix Mendelssohn. We sing the opening movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Magnificat, the Thanksgiving chorale ("Now Thank We All our God") from Felix Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise (Lobgesang), and the final Blessing & Honor and Amen from G. F. Handel's Messiah.

The program included inspiring works for the season by contemporary American composers David Childs (Jubilate Deo), Jeffrey Ames (Let Everything that Hath Breath), and Stephen Paulus (Pilgrims' Hymn), Craig Courtney (his sensitive setting of Let There Be Peace on Earth) and Z. Randall Stroope (his soaring new work, based on the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Soulspeak), as well as works by Addison County composers: chorus member Sally Hoyler's Ocean, Ocean, and the premiere of Nathan Gusakov's Blessing for Dear Friends.


2014/2015 season

Our Spring 2015 program

As the calendar turned from April to May, we sang our traditional Mother's Day weekend concerts at the Brandon Town Hall on Saturday evening, May 9, at 7:30 pm, and on Sunday afternoon, May 10, 3:00 pm in Mead Chapel on the College campus.

The program featured two extraordinary works, scored for choir, piano and strings, by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night of the Soul on a text from the 16th-century by Saint John of the Cross, and Luminous Night of the Soul with a text written for Gjeilo by American poet Charles Anthony Silvestri. These spell-binding works feature a dynamic, rhythmic piano part, performed by Tim Guiles, while chorus and strings (Dieuwke Davydov, cello;  Hilary Hatch, violin; Anne Kowalski, violin; Molly Bidwell, viola) and soprano soloist Samantha Allman '16 provided rich melodic and harmonic color.

We opened with Come, gentle spring! by renowned classical composer Franz Josef Haydn. The choir offered two songs by Gwyneth Walker (who until recently made her home in Vermont) on the poetry of e.e. cummings: Spring!; I carry your heart. Tim Guiles led the chorus a wonderful a cappella arrangement of the traditional Shaker tune, Simple Gifts, with unique afro-jazz rhtyhms and harmonies as lower voices sing "cheza ngoma" (Swahili for "dance and sing"), while upper voices perform a syncopated variation of the well-known Shaker song.

Our Fall 2014 program

Our annual Thanksgiving performance took place on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Mead Chapel.  We mixed some wonderful classical works with contemporary a cappella selections, and featured excerpts from Middlebury composer (and chorus member) Sam Guarnaccia's powerfully moving Emergent Universe Oratorio: EarthRise Amen; The Peace of Wild Things; Awakening; To See a World.

Other selections on the program included
Haydn: "The Heavens are Telling" from The Creation; Handel: selections from Chandos Anthem No. 6: "Put Thy Trust in God"; "As Pants the Hart"; "In the Voice of Praise and Thanksgiving"; Pete Seeger/Paul Halley, arr:  "To my old brown earth"; and American composer Stephen Paulus: "Hymn for America".


2013/2014 season

Our May 4, 2014 program, with the Vermont Choral Union

A special Sunday evening spring concert on May 4 highlighted two community-based choral ensembles, the Vermont Choral Union and the Middlebury College Community Chorus. The concert took place at Mead Chapel on the college campus at 7:30 p.m. The Choral Union made its first appearance in Middlebury under the direction of Jeff Rehbach in this performance, while the Community Chorus returned to the Chapel for its annual May concert. 

The program opened with inspirational American choral works performed by the Community Chorus: The Ground by Norwegian-born Ola Gjeilo; Omnia Sol by Z. Randall Stroope; and Sure on This Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen. Tim Guiles accompanied the chorus, in these works whose melodies and harmonies deeply touch both performers and listeners. At the conclusion of the program, the choirs combined to reprise The Ground.

April 2014 program, with the Champlain Philharmonic

With the Champlain Philharmonic we offered a special concert in early April. The Champlain Philharmonicincludes players from throughout Addison County and beyond, and we delighted in the opportunity for our two community ensembles to join forces. The program featured a new orchestration of Reflections of the Sky, written by Professor Peter Hamlin '73 for the College's bicentennial. That work includes texts by Langston Hughes and Middlebury faculty members Julia Alvarez, Robert Pack, and Jay Parini. Also on the program was a variety of masterworks for chorus and orchestra, including beloved opera choruses and by Giuseppi Verdi (Va, pensiero from Nabucco; the famous "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore) along with delightful selections from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers and HMS Pinafore

Thanksgiving 2013 program

We offered a setting of a psalm of thanksgiving, It is Good to Give Thanks (Psalm 92) by 35-year-old American pianist-composer Dan Forrest. His compositions are noted for “superb choral writing…full of spine-tingling moments.”  We turned to classical works including How Lovely is thy Dwelling Place from the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, and in anticipation of the season of Advent, Behold a star from Jacob Shining by Felix Mendelssohn. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a dream" speech, we presented an arrangement of the spiritual "This little light of mine" entitled True Light by Chicago Community Chorus conductor and composer Keith Hampton.

The centerpiece of our program was contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna (Light Eternal). composed in 1997. Its five movements include a mix of a cappella and accompanied settings of sacred texts, each containing allusions to light, set to soaring melodies and inspired harmonies.


2012/2013 season

Spring 2013 program

We offered a mix of music old and new for our Mother's Day weekend performance. The main work on the program was baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi's splendid Gloria!  From past performances we reprised two works loved by our singers and our audiences, contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen's beautiful pieces Sure on This Shining Night and Dirait-on. We performed American composer Emma Lou Diemer's delightful Three Madrigals on texts of Shakespeare. The program included an upbeat dynamic setting of the text Sing a New Song by Ron Staheli, director of the choral program at Brigham Young University.

Thanksgiving 2012 program

We offered a setting of a psalm of thanksgiving, Psalm 100 by Minnesota composer René Clausen. and an inspiring version of texts from the Mass entitled The Ground by contemporary Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo whose music is increasingly performed by choirs across the globe. We also sing a beautiful Thanksgiving Hymn for America by contemporary American composer Stephen Paulus. We sang two choruses on the poetry of Robert Frost, set to music by noted American composer Randall Thompson: The Road Not Taken and Choose Something like a Star. We also performed the just-published arrangement of Carly Simon's Let the River Run, by Craig Hella Johnson (watch this work performed by the ensemble Conspirare!) The main work on the program was Franz Schubert's inspired Mass #2 in G Major, written when he was just 18 years old, a setting full of energy with delightful melodies and harmonies. Join us!


2011/2012 season

2011 Thanksgiving Program

The Chorus presented its annual fall concert the weekend before Thanksgiving, this year with themes of thanksgiving and remembrance.

We acknowledged the passing of ten years since 9/11, and the sufferings of so many locally from tropical storm Irene, with a special set of music including "Let Nothing Ever Grieve Thee" by Johannes Brahms; "There is a Season" by Albany, NY organist and composer Alfred Fedak, based on the text from Ecclesiastes; "Kyrie" by Concordia College composer-conductor René Clausen, written as part of the larger work "Memorial" commemorating the tragic events of 9/11; and, the powerful opening movement of Mozart's "Requiem" that includes the traditional Latin text "Rest eternal grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

We celebrated singing and offering thanks with a variety of songs, including "Dreamer of Dreams" with poetry by Arthur O'Shaugnessy set to music by Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker: "We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams" alongside American composer Debra Scroggins' setting of Edgar Allen Poe's "A Dream within a Dream." We sang of the delights of the season with British composer-arranger Bob Chilcott's setting the traditional Thanksgiving hymn "Now Thank We." We also presented the joyful "Let the People Praise Thee" by Welsh composer William Matthias, and British composer-conductor John Rutter's "This is the Day" written, respectively, for royal weddings of Charles and Diana, and William and Kate.

We closed the program with the thanksgiving "Hymn for America" by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus, and rousing gospel setting of "Let Everything that Hath Breath" by American composer Jeffery Ames.

Spring 2012 program

We offered a potpourri of music past and present for our annual May concerts that fell on Mother's Day weekend. In the 1690s, English composer Henry Purcell wrote special musical odes each year for Queen Mary's April 30th birthday. We will present choruses from Come, Ye Sons of Art, written in 1694, with its invitation to "come, come away, ye Sons of Art, tune all your voices and instruments play to celebrate this triumphant day." About 100 years later, Franz Joseph Haydn acknowledged the request of Empress Marie Therese, wife of Franz I of Austria, for church music, with his delightful setting and performance of the traditional Latin text Te Deum. This work was largely unknown until some fifty years ago, and we look forward to sharing it this spring.

We also presented several newly composed works, including Prayer, based on writings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, by Minnesota conductor-composer René Clausen, and an inspiring version of Ubi caritas by Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo. We offered new arrangements of classic poems and texts: Morning has Broken arranged by British composer Bob Chilcott; a Welsh Lullaby (Suo Gan) set by American composer K. Lee Scott; Afternoon on a Hill (Edna St. Vincent Millay) by another Minnesota conductor-composer, Eric Barnum; The Moon is Distant from the Sea (Emily Dickinson) by New Zealand native David N. Childs; and Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart Be Staid) by American composer and lyricist Z. Randall Stroope that incorporates lyrics from the medieval song, Carmina Burana.

We also featured two stirring songs by Vermont composers about Vermont, Counterpoint conductor Nathaniel Lew's arrangement of These Green Mountains by Diane Martin, and My Vermont, a chorale for voices and piano by Rutland composer-teacher-conductor Daniel Graves.


2010/2011 season

2010 Thanksgiving Program

The centerpiece of our Thanksgiving program was Johann Sebastian Bach's "Nun Danket Alle Gott" (Cantata 192) with chorus and organ, based on the traditional thanksgiving hymn tune "Now Thank We All Our God." The hymn also appears within a brand new composition by English composer John Rutter, "With Heart and Hands" that we shared. Program selections included settings of "O Be Joyful / Jubilate Deo" and "O Clap Your Hands" (Psalms 100 and 47) by Rutter, contemporary American composer David Childs, and noted twentieth-century British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

We acknowledged the change of seasons with three works, including "Late Summer Purple," a poem by Middlebury College professor emeritus Robert Pack set to music by Middlebury College professor Peter Hamlin, originally composed for the College's bicentennial ten years ago. We present "The Time of Turning" by Craig Courtney that utilizes a beautiful Irish traditional melody with newly written text "…as summer turns to autumn and bids farewell to spring, there comes a time for turning to every living thing." American composer Aaron Copland's "The Promise of Living," with its delightful melodies, offers "the promise of living, the promise of growing born of our singing in joy and thanksgiving."

Travel and journeys are often a part of Thanksgiving. The chorus sang "The Road Not Taken" on poetry of Robert Frost, set by American composer Randall Thompson. We reprised two works from our past Thanksgiving concerts by contemporary American composer Stephen Paulus, "Pilgrims' Hymn" and "The Road Home" with text by poet Michael Dennis Browne. Our program concluded with Vermont conductor and composer Robert De Cormier's energetic setting of "Lonesome Traveler" as we "keep right on a-travelin' on that road to freedom."

Welcome Spring 2011!

Our spring 2011 concert included a variety of music celebrating the the new life brought by spring and summer, as well as reflecting on remembrance of past lives and our universal desires for peace.

In celebration of spring, we presented several madrigals from the sixteenth and seventeenth century, including Thomas Morley's Now Is the Month of Maying, Spring Returns to the music of Italian composer Luca Marenzio, and William Byrd's This Sweet and Merry Month of May that includes a tribute to Queen Elizabeth I.

We offered selections from Haydn's delightful work, The Creation, as well as an abridged setting of Beethoven's uplifting Choral Fantasy, a work originally scored for orchestra, chorus and piano solo, with senior music major Hannah Waite at the piano.

A special set within the program featured songs by contemporary American and Canadian composers. We will sing Eliza Gilkyson's poignant Requiem, written following the Asian tsunami of December 2004, and recently arranged for chorus by Craig Hella Johnson, director of the award-winning chorus Conspirare. We offered selections from Morten Lauridsen's Nocturnes, featuring his setting of Rilke's Sa nuite d'ete (Its Summer Night) and James Agee's Sure on This Shining Night. The Chorus sang the beautiful love song Roses I Send to You, a text by Canadian explorer, prospector and writer George E. Winkler, set to music by British Columbia composer Stephen Chatman.

The chorus presented arrangements of traditional tunes include Shenandoah; O Waly Waly (The Water is Wide) by noted British composer John Rutter; and a stirring setting of Let Me Fly by Vermont's Robert De Cormier as arranged for Counterpoint.

For the Sunday evening performance, the Middlebury College Women's Glee Club also performed. This 15-voice choir, under the direction of Jessica Allen, will offered a set of classic and contemporary works, including arrangements of the beloved Ave Maria by Franz Schubert and the uplifting psalm setting Cantate Domino by baroque composer Heinrich Schütz. The women will also sang the traditional Philippine children's song Pen-pen de Sarapen (from Tatlo Sa Buhay), arranged by Sidney Marquez Boquiren, and the American spiritual Down in the River to Pray. Works by contemporary composers included Remember by Donna Gartman Schultz and Midsummer (from Seasons of Love) by Eleanor Daley. The Women's Glee Club was founded in 2008.


2009/2010 season

A Thanksgiving Celebration

Our Thanksgiving 2009 program featured music of noted British composer-conductor John Rutter, including his vibrant settings of texts from psalm 47, O Clap Your Hands, alongside his stirring Gloria! Also included is Make a Joyful Noise by 20th-century Welsh composer William Mathias. The program highlights selections from G. F. Handel's splendid Dettingen Te Deum (We Praise Thee, O God).

Songs of our hope, peace, and love included Blessed are the Peacemakers by Middlebury College professor Peter Hamlin; Set Me as a Seal by Concordia College composer-conductor René Clausen; and the serene anthem Grant us Thy Peace by Felix Mendelssohn. We reprised two pieces from our past Thanksgiving concerts by contemporary American composer Stephen Paulus, Hymn for America and Pilgrims' Hymn.

Our program concluded with Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker's setting of the Quaker song How Can I Keep from Singing, and the rousing gospel song Rejoice! by African-American composer Jeffery Ames.

A Choral Potpourri
Special Concerts on Mother's Day Weekend

Our spring 2010 concert, titled A Choral Potpourri, included classic choral music as well as new works receiving their Vermont premiere. Works by George Frideric Handel included the powerful "Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound" and "Let Thy Hand be Strengthened", one of four extended anthems written for the coronation of England's King George II in 1727. The choir also prepared the beautiful "Cantique de Jean Racine" (a translation of a traditional Latin text) by French composer Gabriel Fauré, and "Locus iste" by Austrian composer and organist Anton Bruckner.

A special set within the program featured songs by contemporary American composers: in celebration of spring, "Come Live with Me and Be My Love" by David Dickau, a setting of the sixteenth-century poem by Christopher Marlowe; "i carry your heart" by Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker, based on a poem by E. E. Cummings; composer-conductor Z. Randall Stroope's poignant song, "Homage;" a moving Hebrew song by composer and opera director Allan Naplan entitled "Al Shlosha D'Varim" (the world is sustained by three things: truth, justice, and peace); and prominent composer Eric Whitacre's brand new composition, "The Seal Lullaby" on a text of Rudyard Kipling.

The chorus also prepared the energetic "Geographical Fugue" by 20th-century German-born pianist and composer Ernst Toch with its references to places around the globe. The program closed with Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Mack Wilberg's stirring arrangement "Bound for the Promised Land."


 

Department of Music

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753