A Merry Medieval Christmas

by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

Is it the poetry? The dance-like quality? The hand drum, or the finger cymbals? There’s just something about all of these qualities combined that make Medieval and Renaissance music feel particularly special on a holiday or winter concert. Here are a few suggestions for upcoming concerts, for both high school and middle school choirs:

Gaudete! arr.Michael Engelhardt
From Piae Cantiones (1582), this SATB setting of “Gaudete!” is in a progressive style well-suited to the medieval melody. Its energy is derived from the accented rhythms and dance-like percussive elements – all adding to the joyous nature of this piece.

Veni, Veni Emmanuel arr. Michael John Trotta
Trotta conceived this well-known Latin text as a dialogue between supplicants and the Creator, a combination of old and new. He masterfully juxtaposes a personal longing for something still to come with the steadfast assurance of something ever-present, yet not always seen. While the original theme is associated with the Christmas season, the wider theme of longing for something greater is universal to the human condition and allows this piece to be programmed throughout the year. A fitting piece for any concert, contest or festival.

Sing We with Gladness Antony Holborne/arr. Audrey Snyder
Based on a Galliard by the Elizabethan composer Antony Holborne, this adaptation for voices includes a festive text that will be ideal for madrigal dinners, concerts and holiday programs.

Je Ne Fus Jamais Si Aise Pierre Certon/arr. Jerry Estes
Pierre Certon’s dancing and lighthearted work is made more accessible for younger voices with this fine arrangement. The harmonic and textural elements remain true to the original, preserving the frivolity of the piece. You may choose to sing only the French and end at the optional fine, or extend the length and continue singing using an English text. Add the flute and percussion parts to create the perfect performance.

Lirum, Lirum Thomas Morley/arr. Patrick M. Liebergen
From Morley’s “The First Booke of Balletts to Five Voyces,” the original five-part version is featured here as an arrangement for three-part mixed voices with an optional baritone part. Modernized words new dynamic indications and optional keyboard and hand drum parts provided by renowned arranger Patrick Liebergen are also included. Quintessential Morley – this must-sing madrigal is well-suited for ensembles of all sizes, and is a must for festival or contest.

White is in the Winter Night arr. Audrey Snyder
From the “And Winter Came” album, Enya brings her unique musical and lyric ability in this appealing winter soundscape! Evoking a quasi-Renaissance dance feel, this will make a wonderful opening number or processional for a holiday or winter program.

For more suggestions, visit the Stanton’s Staff Selections portion of our website!

About the Author:
Jen Sper has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.



Categories: New Publications, School Choral, Staff Picks

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