One of my favorite activities is producing recording sessions, and working with my sound engineer colleague David Trembley. David and I have worked together for 15 years on CD recordings by The Singers, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, and many new release collections for MorningStar Music, EC Schirmer, and Galaxy Music. I have also had the privilege of producing (for Minnesota Public Radio) the world premiere recording of Dominick Argento’s SEASONS, conducted by my mentor Dale Warland and performed by the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale. Gothic Records has released this performance on a new “Dale Warland Live Series” collection.
My latest producing project has just wrapped up, and it was a doozy! The National Lutheran Choir (and a chamber orchestra) led by David Cherwien recorded Kim André Arnesen‘s HOLY SPIRIT MASS and a few a cappella works in April and May. David Trembley and I presented the final product to Cherwien and the NLC staff two weeks ago, and we are all very happy with the stunning musical results! It will be a while before the CD is released, but I will keep you updated!
It is already a tired trope to refer back to 2016 as a year of near-armageddon, given the tumultuous political and social climate that exists both here in the United States, and abroad. But I would be remiss if I did not thank everyone who brought LIGHT to my life in 2016, a year that had many meaningful musical and life events.
Best wishes to you all for a great 2017! But first, some highlights from the last year:
- To begin with, I am most grateful that Melissa and I are healthy, and that our families are doing well. It was a good year for us to have each other’s backs!
- As a conductor, I had the great fortune to lead The Singers on a number of choral masterpieces in 2016, including: Herbert Howells’ Requiem, Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei, Jake Runestad’s The Hope of Loving, and another appearance at the renowned Ravinia Festival in Chicago where we performed Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (All-Night Vigil) in memory of maestro Robert Shaw. In the fall we performed our first all-Baroque concert, which gave me the chance to finally conduct J.S. Bach’s Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied and Handel’s masterpiece, Dixit Dominus. At Christmas, the women of the choir performed Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols to the pleasure of everyone who saw and heard it!
- My job as Choirmaster at The House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul means that I get to work with a group of volunteers and professional singers who possess such great talent! In Holy Week we presented the Lenten portion of Handel’s Messiah, Music Sunday brought Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and Jonathan Dove’s Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars, and Christmas Eve brought Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Part III. I am fortunate to work so closely with one of the world’s finest organists, Aaron David Miller, who aside from being a world-class musician, is also one of the most gracious colleagues and friends.
- In the spring, I became the bass in the chamber group The Mirandola Ensemble, so I get to sing on a more regular basis again. What’s especially fun for me is that the Artistic Director/Tenor Nicholas Chalmers was a high school student of mine from my Hopkins High School days.
- I golfed nearly 70 times with my best golf buddies Michael Armstrong, Steve Kovacs, and Steve Pearson. I was a happy member at Boulder Pointe in Elko, and the drive was worth it to spend time with these guys three times a week!
- I turned 40 on September 1. The day started with 40 celebratory burpees (and a great work out) led by Dori Johnson, owner of Paddlesculpt, which is my newest community of friends. In the evening, Melissa hosted quite a surprise party at (of course!) Pepitos for both me and my sister-in-law Becky Holm-Johansen. Becky and I share a birthday (along with my own twin brother, Michael), and we were really happy to have Melissa’s brother Jon-Eirik, Becky, and our rockstar nephew Elliott in from Colorado. It was a great day shared with so many friends.
- Of course, November brought the election of some orange, three-thumbed buffoon. That’s all I can say on that subject.
- On a more personal level, Melissa and I had to say goodbye to our beloved Charlie the Beagle on Monday, December 5. We are grateful to all those who loved our little guy with us, and we both achingly miss him every day.Again – all best wishes to you!
I am very excited to announce the release of four new Christmas publications through MorningStar Music!
Click on each title to learn more, see the score, and hear a recording:
The Wexford Carol – SATB a cappella (div.)
Manger Carol – SATB, piano
In Dulci Jubilo – I have now adapted my arrangement for TTBB and SSAA choirs!
To see a complete list of published works, click here.
The Singers and I are remembering the impact that Leonard Bernstein had on the American musical landscape by presenting “MAKE OUR GARDEN GROW” on October 24 and 25. Bernstein died 25 years ago this month, and I wanted to start The Singers’ 12th Season with a concert that showcases an eclectic mix of the Maestro’s music. We can barely scratch the surface in just one concert – but the program has nonetheless proven to be a wide-ranging exploration of compositional styles that spanned Bernstein’s life and career. (Special thanks to Don Hunstein for gracious permission to use his iconic photo.)
“Few composers capture their time and become the iconic voice of their age. He has left us an aural image of his time and place and, at the same time, an eternal voice of humanity.” – John Mauceri
LEONARD BERNSTEIN: MAKE OUR GARDEN GROW (October 24 & 25, 2015)
The Singers – Ruth Palmer, piano – Matthew Culloton, conductor
Please click here for tickets
A Simple Song (from MASS)
Sanctus (from MASS)
Almighty Father (from MASS)
Chichester Psalms (Aaron David Miller, organ; Min Kim Harp; Bob Adney, percussion)
The Lark (Allison Eckberg, narrator; Bob Adney percussion)
Warm-Up (from MASS)
Take Care of this House (from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.)
Somewhere (from West Side Story)
Make Our Garden Grow (from Candide)
I am very excited to share news about The Singers’ new CD, released in April 2015. “Rene Clausen: Tonight Eternity Alone” was recorded live in concert during our 3-day festival honoring my teacher in February 2015. The concert night (though especially chilly outside) was one of those nights when you feel all of the cylinders are moving exactly as they should, so we decided it was very worthy of sharing with a wider audience. I hope you enjoy this meaningful recording of works by one of America’s most beloved composers!
To purchase the CD, click here.
I am very excited to have two new releases published this month, and I hope these may be of use to your choirs!
Requiem Aeternam (for Paul Salumunovich) (SATB), HL.50600075, $1.95
This work is dedicated to the memory of the legendary choral director Paul Salamunovich and his favorite musical genre of Gregorian chant. The composer has written an original chant in the Gregorian style with undulating musical phrases shaped in the ancient style but with contemporary harmonic structures, creating both a familiar and yet unsettling new requiem. Published in the Dale Warland Choral Series.
Infant Holy (SATB), 50-1820, $1.85
The familiar melody of this Polish carol appears in each of the voice parts while the rest of the parts sing a beautiful vocal accompaniment. Part of the popular Christmas with The Singers Series.