Composer’s Commentary on Seven Last Words from the Cross

James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross was commissioned by BBC Television and first screened in seven nightly episodes during Holy Week 1994, performed by Cappella Nova and the BT Scottish Ensemble under Alan Tavener. The traditional text of the Seven Last Words from the Cross is based on a compilation from all four gospels to form a sequential presentation of the last seven sentences uttered by Christ. Composer James MacMillan comments on all seven movements.
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Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Program Notes.

On the history of Christmas carols and brass bands

“The typical carol gives voice to the common emotions of healthy people in language that can be understood, and music that can be shared by all.” Percy Dearmer (1867-1936) The singing of Christmas songs and carols with music for brass instruments goes hand-in-hand – like mistletoe and eggnog, or turkey and cranberry sauce. Christmas carols date back to pagan times, originally used to mark the end of one season and the start of the next. As Christianity grew, carols gradually developed a link to the birth of Jesus, but the association to paganism remained in the shadows and the singing of carols was prohibited at times. In the 19th century, the Victorians reinvented Christmas as a sentimental festival of good cheer with families and friends and the carol enjoyed a renaissance. Many new carols and songs, in a pseudo-traditional style were written, and there was a conscious shift from the nativity story to a focus on the more secular, festive pleasures of Christmas like the winter solstice, eating, drinking and Santa Claus. By the end of the 19th century, small English parish churches began the Christmas Eve practice of lessons, prayers and a short sermon mingled with a variety of carols. It was later expanded to a festival of nine lessons and carols, made popular around the world in the 20th century by King’s College, Cambridge in England.
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Categories: 2017-2018 Season and Program Notes.

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space 2017 Program Notes

Noel loves the rich choral repertoire of the entire Easter season, and enjoys combining ancient music with contemporary. “The new has often been influenced by the old,” he says. “It’s like living in a modern house but with wonderful antique furnishings throughout. Both are worthy and both provide the sense of calm and personal reflection I love.”
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Program Notes.

Festival of Carols 2016 Program Notes

Noel Edison, celebrating his 20th season as TMC Artistic Director and Conductor, instigated the annual TMC Festival of Carols in the early years of his tenure. His goal has not wavered – to present a festive evening of celebration containing a wide variety of seasonal music from around the world, old and new, original compositions as well as arrangements.
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Program Notes.

David Pittsinger on singing Elijah

"To be a vulnerable and honest storyteller is what every artist ultimately strives for and this piece abounds with opportunities for just that. It resides in an ecclesiastical lexicon with Bach’s Matthew Passion, and Handel’s Messiah, but uses Mendelssohn’s own Romantic style to great emotional effect."
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Program Notes.

Elijah Program Notes

Noel Edison speaks on why he chose Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah to celebrate his 20th season with the Choir: "How could I not choose a work by Felix Mendelssohn, the namesake of the Choir? And Elijah is one of my all-time favourite orchestral-choral works. Orchestral works are in the Choir’s DNA and this work is chock-full of big chorus effects. I love the drama and the way the story plays out -- it’s religious opera bursting with the hellfire and brimstone of the Old Testament. And it’s tuneful and fulfilling, full of one beautiful piece after another. Enjoy!"
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Categories: 2016-2017 Season and Program Notes.

The Creation Program Notes

The opening orchestral introduction, called “The Representation of Chaos” is famous. Haydn paints the dark, frightening void just prior to creation by using snippets of melody, vague rhythms, strange harmonies, awkward dissonances and sudden outbursts. “There is nothing else quite like it,” claims Noel Edison. “It’s the Big Bang expressed in music, and was way ahead of its time!”
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Program Notes.

Composer’s Commentary on I will lift up mine eyes

Leonard Enns writes of his TMC commission, I will lift up mine eyes: Psalm 121 is typically read, and often set musically, as a text of assurance and comfort. My setting is similar in that regard. What I find compelling, though, is the second phrase of the psalm: "from whence commeth my help (?)." Many musical settings treat the phrase "from whence cometh my help" simply as a modifier (no question mark); i.e. "... the hills from whence cometh my help" (take, for example, Mendelssohn's "Lift thine eyes"). Most current translations, however, treat it as a question.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Program Notes.

Sacred Music for a Sacred Space 2016 Program Notes

Artistic Director Noel Edison has always enjoyed the combination of Renaissance with contemporary music in a concert program. For him, it’s the similarity between the openness and simplicity of the structure of these compositions that works so well together.
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Categories: 2015-2016 Season and Program Notes.