For the beauty of the earth by John Rutter

“For the Beauty of the Earth,” by John Rutter, sung at Tanque Verde Lutheran Church, April 29, 2022.
ARS Music Director: Ryan Phillips Pianist: Woan Ching Lim

John Rutter’s For the Beauty of the Earth is essential repertoire in the world of sacred music. This anthem of praise sets four of the original eight stanzas of text from Folliott S. Pierpoint’s 1864 hymn bearing the same name. Rutter’s composition was first written in 1978 and was dedicated partly to the Texas Choral Director’s Association. Each verse is structurally the same in its strophic manner, though variance is created through a passing of the melody to different voices during each verse. Rutter composes each verse differently with varied textures and harmonies, as well as a counter melody in the third stanza.

Homeland by Z. Randall Stroope

“Homeland” by Z. Randall Stroope, sung at Tanque Verde Lutheran Church, April 29, 2022.
ARS Music Director: Ryan Phillips Pianist: Woan Ching Lim

Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter” melody from The Planets serves as Stroope’s main theme for his nationalistic triumph, Homeland. At the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981, a hymn arrangement of this song was sung for the joyous occasion, and was performed once again at her funeral, at the request of her sons. Stroope looked to Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s poetry in Holst’s 1921 patriotic hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country for inspiration as he utilized its first verse while newly composing two subsequent verses for Homeland. These additional verses devote admiration to his father who walked the Bataan Death March in World War II; a forced 65-mile march for 60,000 to 80,000 American and Filipino prisoners by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942. With the help of Holst’s lush and emotionally charged melody, this heartfelt piece captivates the listener and elicits an abundance of national pride.

Hlohonolofatsa – arr. Dan Jackson

This joyous arrangement of a South African greeting song ends our 2021 Holiday Concert on a high note. Soloists freely introduce the main melody while the choir slowly builds energy. Tenor and bass sections introduce rhythmic lines that drive the piece forward, all while accompanied by djembe and other auxiliary percussion. Characteristic of South African pieces, Hlohonolofatsa utilizes second-inversion chord planing, which is a compositional technique where the fifth of the chord is in the lowest voice and all voices move in parallel motion.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – arr. Mark Brymer

Prolific composer/arranger Mark Brymer’s setting of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Eddie Pola and George Wyle spices up a traditional holiday song with upbeat piano accompaniment. This composition was originally made famous by singer Andy Williams in 1963. The playfulness of the season is highlighted with the alternation between the upper and lower voices.

Esta Noche – arr. Tom Cunningham

Sung at 2021 Holiday Concert in Tucson, Arizona.

This arrangement, adapted from a Spanish carol, brings the fun and joy of the season to our concert’s second half. Tom Cunningham sets his choral arrangement in two verses, each with varying accompaniments. Throughout the first verse, bass singers imitate the guitarrón as they vocalize string plucks, while altos and tenors fill in the chord with syncopated rhythms on the text “Alegría.” The second verse separates the treble and bass voices as each section takes half of the verse. Finally, auxiliary percussion joins the piece and brings excitement that pushes to a thrilling finale.