Through the Digital Door: Christmas Choral works
The final 2020 edition of Through the Digital Door celebrates some of the many choral works in CMC's catalogue written for Christmas. Some of these works are included in CMC's catalogue of Christmas Choral Music from Ireland, compiled by Dr Desmond Earley, graded on four levels from A: Easily Accessible up to D: works suitable for semi-professional/professional choirs.
Eibhlís Farrell composes Christmas and Advent carols annually as Christmas cards. This work consists of 17 movements written between 1989 and 2007, for various choral and instrumental combinations. The carol included here is Jesu Rdemptor Omnium, written for 'chorus angelorum and harp' in 1996, setting text from the ninth century Black Book of Kilbroney.
This work is written for unaccompanied mixed choir and sets the Latin text of the antiphon upon Magnificat at Vespers of Christmas Day. Graded as 'C: Difficult' in CMC's Choral Christmas catalogue, the work is described below:
Colin Mawby invigorates the glorious Christmas text Hodie, Christus natus est with vitality through his manipulation of harmonic palette, rhythmic subtlety and dynamic contrast.
This work is made up of three carols: Lully My Lyking, Glad and Blythe and the titular Make We Merry. Each carol can be performed alone or as part of the set. This work was premiered by Chamber Choir Ireland in December 2014, conducted by Paul Hillier. This work is published by Cailino Music Publishers.
David Byers composes a Christmas carol every year and has written one annually since 1967. This collection consists of works from 2003 to 2014, and is made up of twelve movements. Some movements are scored for mixed choir and some for female choir. This 2017 SATB carol is accompanied by a 1913 Christmas card, and more information on both is included on the composer's website.
This work, written for female choir and piano/female choir and chamber orchestra, was commissioned in 2008 by RTÉ lyric fm under their Composer in Residence scheme for the Choirs for Christmas competition. The piece sets an 18th century Irish Christmas text, and was premiered by New Dublin Voices, conducted by Bernie Sherlock.
Seán Doherty: Blessed be that Maid Marie (2012) 3'
This work, for unaccompanied mixed choir, was premiered by Salisbury Cathedral Choir and conductor David Hall in 2012. In the programme note the composer discussed the two works which came to mind when he first read this text:
Hodie Christus natus est, the antiphon to the Magnificat that is traditionally sung at the vespers on Christmas Day, and Hey Ya!, a song written and produced by André 3000 for the 2003 album The Love Below by the American hip-hop duo Outkast. I rendered the refrain into faux-plainsong reminiscent of Hodie Christus natus est to be used as a cantus firmus at the beginning and end of the piece. I then used this plainsong as the basis for the carol melody, channelling the driving and infectious rhythm of Hey Ya! into a melody that provided cross-rhythms and suspensions when used in canon.
This work, for unaccompanied mixed choir, is included in CMC's choral anthology Choirland, and sets an English medieval text to music. This work is also included in CMC's Choral Christmas catalogue, described by curator Des Earley as follows:
This work brings the English medieval text to life with sensitivity, painting the delicate beauty of the verse [...] With some use of dissonance, contrasting textures and dynamic variety, yet accessible to the amateur choir, Sweeney’s There is no rose is sure to be favoured by all choristers.
This work is written for unaccompanied female choir, and was premiered by SoundSet, conductor Emma O'Halloran and director Laura Kilty in December 2010 in Contemporary Music Centre. This work was included on Vox Feminina, a 2019 album of works by women composers from Ireland and around the world.
This work exists in two versions, one for female choir and piano with optional percussion, and the second female choir and orchestra. This work was commissioned by RTÉ lyric fm and was premiered by RTÉ Cór na nÓg and RTÉ Concert Orchestra in December 2012.
Commissioned by UCD Choral Scholars and conductor Desmond Earley, this work is written for mixed choir and solo violin, or mixed choir, solo violin and strings. This work is the title track of UCD Choral Scholars' 2020 Christmas album.