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CD130 Carols & Lullabies And Other Christmas Music


Carols & Lullabies And Other Christmas Music

Philovox Ensemble of Boston

Jennifer Lester, Director

  • Complete texts and translations
  • • 55’37” total playing time

CD130      $15.95

Purchase from Canticle Distributing


Conrad Susa: Carols & Lullabies, Christmas in the Southwest for Chorus, Harp, Guitar and Marimba
1. ¡Oh, mi Belén!
2. Eel Desembre Congelat
3. Alegría
4. A la Nanita Nana
5. Las Posadas
6. Campana Sobre Campana
7. En Belén Tocan a Fuego
8. El Noi de la Mare
9. Chiquirriquitín
10. El Rorro
Conrad Susa: Carols & Lullabies, Christmas in the Southwest for Chorus, Harp, Guitar and Marimba (Track 11)
Five American Carols for Chorus
12. George W. Chadwick: This Is The Month
13. George W. Chadwick: A Child Is Born In Bethlehem
14. Red Gramann: Lullaby For The Holy Child
15. David Ashley White: Love Came Down At Christmas
16. James Sclater: What Sweeter Music
Conrad Susa: A Christmas Garland for Chorus, Brass, Harp, Piano, Organ & Percussion (Track 17)



Recorded February 4 and 6, 2001 at The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Newton, MA, and March 11, 2001 at The Church of the Advent, Boston, MA.

In 1992 Conrad Susa wrote the following about Carols & Lullabies:

Four or five years ago, Philip Brunelle suggested I write him a companion piece to Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. To a composer, this tempting offer was another way of asking ‘How’s about writing us a hit?’ After several years of me writing in doubt, a friend, Gary Holt, showed me a collection of traditional Spanish carols he had sung as a boy in Arizona. Excited, I juggled them around to form a narrative. I noted their many connections with Renaissance music along with their homey, artful simplicity. Finally, the overriding image of a Southwestern piñata party for the new baby led me to add guitar and marimba to Britten’s harp and to compose connective music and totally re-conceiver the carols.

In an often overlooked detail in the Christmas story, the New Baby bawls loudly as the shepherds leave in the final bars of Chiquirriquitín. (You may hear him in your mind.) His parents now must dandle and soothe him to sleep. Tired themselves, they drift off as the angels hover about them in protective adoration.

Carols & Lullabies was commissioned by and dedicated to Philip Brunelle and Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota, who premiered the work on December 6, 1992 at Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis.

The Serenade for a Christmas Night is a meditation upon two ancient Christmas hymns, Divinum misterium (“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”) and Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her (“From Heav’n Above to Earth I Come”). Its grave joy is leavened by flights of whimsy. My mind had rearranged Grünewald’s “Angelic concert” and had added bad-boy cherubs colliding on moon-beams. They were trying to entertain the Child as his Mother dozed. Originally for organ and vibraphone, a harp was added and the work re-shaped in 1985. The work was commissioned by and is dedicated to my San Diego friend, William Copeland.   -Conrad Susa

George Whitfield Chadwick was born in Lowell, Mass. In 1854, and died in Boston in 1931. Having studied in Boston, Leipzig and Munich, he returned to Boston to become organist of Old South church. At the same time he joined the faculty of New England Conservatory of Music, becoming its Director in 1897 and remaining there almost until his death. He was, and still is regarded highly among American composers of the early 20th century. Both This is the Month and A Child Is Born are extracted from his oratorio Noёl-A Christmas Pastoral for soli, chorus and full orchestra, first published by H. W. Gray in 1909.

Fred Gramann (b. 1950) lives in Paris where he is Director of Music of The American Church in Paris. Lullaby for the Holy Child was written in 1999 for the composer’s son, Benjamin.

David Ashley White (b. 1944) lives and works in Houston, Texas where he is Director of and Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music.

James Sclater (b. 1943) is currently Professor of Music at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, where he was named Humanities Professor of the year in 1998. He is also a clarinetist with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Mississippi Opera.

Maurice Casey’s request for a medley of carols for his Cantari Singers with orchestra and audience participation activated an old desire to write such a piece. But what would connect the carols? The answer came in early October of 1988 as I watched my dear friend Nikos Kafkalis leave this world. He had hoped to live until Christmas.

A glittering orchestral ritornello with cries of “Noёl” garlands the verses of “God rest ye merry,” in which the angels announce the principal message of comfort and joy. The orchestra dances into “The Holly and the Ivy” but the chorus sings “I Saw Three Ships,” asking “what was in those ships all three?” Arriving at the manger the Kings find the Child being soothed by the “the Coventry Carol.” The audience, awestruck at first, joins the choral adorations with “O Come, all ye Faithful.” Celebration breaks out in “Joy to the World,” humorously deconstructed to show its relationship to several of Handel’s works. The ritornello with its “Noёls,” now all embracing and triumphant, concludes the work.

A Christmas Garland, in its original version for SATB Chorus and orchestra was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Cantari Singers, Maurice Casey, Music Director, who first performed it in Weigel Hall, Columbus, Ohio on December 18, 1988. The present version featuring brass and organ with harp, piano and percussion was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Vance George, Director, in 1990.   -Conrad Susa