At the Cross is a simple arrangement of the beloved hymn with fresh and poignant harmonies. Set for SATB choir with piano accompaniment, it is moderately easy but rewarding of good musicianship. The light, delicate accompaniment directs the focus onto the text while providing the perfect amount of color and interest. It allows a choir to show artistic merit without enduring exhaustive preparation. This arrangements portrays the traditional first and fifth stanzas of Isaac Watts’ hymn with a statement of an amended version of Ralph Hudson’s gospel refrain.
Lo, a Rose is a somber, contemplative setting of the incarnation of Christ as described in the traditional German carol, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen. This arrangement is moderately easy but allows good musicianship to shine. The light and delicate accompaniment, with hauntingly beautiful harmonies, directs the focus onto the text while providing just the right amount of color and interest. Thus, Lo, a Rose, allows a choir to demonstrate artistic merit without enduring exhaustive preparations. The setting portrays that the light and salvation brought to us by the Rose was achieved via bitterness and sorrow.
Lo, a Rose is a perfect complement to a Christmas Eve service, or a vehicle to contemplate the incarnation, or as part of any Christmas musical presentation.
It Is Not Death to Die, is a setting of French poet Henri Abraham César Malan’s Non, ce n’est pas mourir as translated by George Washington Bethune. This text first came to my attention through Dan Wells’ choral arrangement of Bob Kauflin’s popular setting. Although Kauflin’s treatment of the text is lovely and effective I sensed that there were still depths of Malan’s poetry to be probed, especially the tension between the Christian’s certain transition into eternal bliss and the inevitability of tasting death. This moved me to attempt a fresh musical setting that captures the mixture of dread and hope borne out in the acclamation that “death is swallowed up in victory!”
If you have an adventurous church choir or advanced academic singers you’ll want to consider using this setting of It Is Not Death to Die, with deep pathos in its musical progression that matches the text’s narrative, in your upcoming programming. Available with orchestra or piano (this version) accompaniment, It Is Not Death to Die makes a fitting close to the Easter season, or is suitable for Ascension Sunday, funeral, memorial service, or any time in the church year to remind Christians of the central hope of our faith, eternal life in Christ. Its artistic treatment of humanity’s universal appointment with death works as a moving component of a concert program as well.
Scherzo No. 1 in C-minor is a short, rapid-fire, and light-hearted piano solo for nimble fingers. Despite the minor key-center, the heavy syncopation, headlong tempo (allegro furioso!), and brief foray into F-major, give the scherzo a happy and amusing disposition, which is fitting for scherzo’s original meaning of “musical joke.” The piece is not complex but its pace requires good dexterity to play it well at tempo. Scherzo No. 1 will provide an excellent change of pace/mood for a concert or recital program.
Fingal’s Fantasy is built on three synthesized, seven-pitch scales derived from the first three variations of the opening theme of Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, better known as Fingal’s Cave. Each scale is developed in its own section to build a three-part work of contrasting styles. Mendelssohn’s original motive can be clearly heard in the first development but appears more heavily disguised in subsequent sections. Despite the use of synthetic scales, the piece ends with a strong declaration of B-minor in homage to Mendelssohn’s selected key for Fingal’s Cave. Fingal’s Fantasy is only moderately difficult but will engage even advanced performers with an excursion into 21st century composition. It is suitable for concert or recital repertoire.