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Alpha & Omega CD now available on iTunes

The CD features performances given by the Augustana Choir while touring Germany and Austria in February

Alpha & Omega, the 2012 Augustana Choir Concert Tour, took place in Germany and Austria in February-March 2012, condluding with a home concert in Davenport, Iowa.

Recordings from the 2012 Alpha & Omega tour are now available on iTunes 

Program and notes

Jon Hurty, Conductor
Ruth Symons and Larry Peterson, accompanists

I Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
A Prayer of the Middle Ages, Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
Verbum caro factum est, Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Improvisation on Veni Creator Spiritus

II Revelation
Alpha and Omega, James MacMillan (b. 1959)
Idumea, arr. Richard Bjella
Lord, If I Got My Ticket, arr. Stacey Gibbs (b. 1962)

III Songs from Various Cultures
Sârba pe scaun from Suita scurta, Alexandru Pascanu (1920-1989)
Svatba (A Wedding), Khristo Todorov (1927-1980)
Ave Maria (Angelus Domini), Franz Biebl (1906-2001)
Noél Ayisyen, Emile Desamours (b. 1941)

IV Folk Songs and Spirituals
Simple Gifts, arr. René Clausen (b. 1953)
Schönster Herr Jesu, arr. F. M. Christiansen (1871-1955)
My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord, arr. Moses Hogan (1957-2003)
Children of the Heavenly Father, arr. Jon Hurty (b. 1959)

The first group of pieces is based on the triune God— Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. A Prayer of the Middle Ages, by the American composer Howard Hanson, is a setting of an anonymous 8th-century poem translated into English by James Francis Cooke. It was Hanson’s first work for a cappella chorus. Verbum caro factum est is a setting of John 1:14 by the German Renaissance composer Hans Leo Hassler. In this setting, Hassler utilizes a polychoral texture in the style of another great German composer, Heinrich Schütz. We close this group of pieces with an improvisation on the Gregorian Chant — Veni Creator Spiritus. The choir uses the melody of the chant and a pre-existing framework to give shape to the piece, but each individual presentation is unique as the singers are encouraged to be creative and explore different sounds and textures at every performance.

Each of the pieces in the second group of works is based on texts that deal with Revelation. The first piece, Alpha and Omega, is a setting from Revelation 21:1-6 by the Scottish composer James MacMillan. The piece was premiered in June of 2011 in Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. The second piece, Idumea, is a setting of the traditional tune from The Sacred Harp, a well-known collection of shape note music from the Southern region of the United States. The tone color that the choir uses reflects the style in which shape note music is normally performed. The final selection in this group of pieces is a setting of the traditional spiritual Lord, If I Got My Ticket by the American composer and arranger Stacey Gibbs.

Our third group of pieces comes from a variety of cultures. Sârba pe scaun from Suita scurta is an original composition by the Romanian composer Alexandru Pascanu, and reflects the style of a Romanian folk dance. Svatba, sung by the women of the choir, is a lively Bulgarian folk song about a wedding. The men of the choir sing the following piece, Ave Maria, by the German composer Franz Biebl. This piece has become a favorite selection of American audiences, especially at concerts during the Christmas season. The Cornell University Glee Club brought the piece to the United States from Germany in 1970, after they had met Mr. Biebl while on tour in Germany. Noél Ayisyen is a Haitian Noël that tells the story of Jesus’ birth. The lively piece includes a number of sounds that are made to imitate traditional folk instruments from Haiti.

Our final selections are from the folk song and hymn traditions. Simple Gifts is a setting of one of the most beloved American folk tunes by René Clausen, who is both a composer and arranger as well as a choral director at Concordia University in Moorhead, Minnesota, a sister institution of Augustana College. Schönster Herr Jesu brings together the American and German traditions in a setting by F. Melius Christiansen. My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord is a traditional spiritual setting by the American composer Moses Hogan. We close the program with Children of the Heavenly Father, a piece that has become a regular part of the Augustana Choir’s tour programs. It is a setting of the well-known Swedish hymn Trygarre Kan Ingen Vara by Karolina Sandell-Berg.

See photos from the tour at www.augustana.edu/x39925.xml


More choir news:

Morrison returns to receive award, conduct choir

Choir accompanist Ruth Symons retires