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Cantate Domino - setting from Lithuania

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You may have noticed my fondness for the International Baltic Sea choral competition. Why? I love the variety and the new composers (or at least new to me). Here’s another selection by a Lithuanian choir.  And one of my favorite texts.

A Taste of Palestrina - Jesu, rex admirabilis

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You can't go wrong with Palestrina!

Christmas Eve and Epiphany - Best of Two Calendars

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Today, January 6th is the Solemnity of the Epiphany in the Western Church, the 12th Day of Christmas. For the churches still using the Julian Calendar, it is December 24th, Christmas Eve. This chant for the Ninth Hour reflects the Eastern understanding that celebrates the wise men at Christmas Eve. Epiphany, also known as Theophany, in the East is a commemoration of Christ's baptism in the Jordan.

A look at the lyrics will show the poetic contrast between God's power and human weakness, something that was a marvel to Byzantine poets.



Today He Who holds the whole creation in His hand is born of a Virgin. He Whose essence none can touch is bound in swaddling-clothes as a mortal man. God, Who in the beginning fashioned the heavens, lies in a manger. He who rained manna on His people in the wilderness is fed on milk from His mother's breast. The Bridegroom of the Church summons the wise men; the Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts. We worship Your birth, O Christ. We worshi…

Baroque Cuba - A Villancico by Esteban Salas

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This charming piece is about a beginning singer - listen for his sol-fa syllables. These villancicos were the highlight of the Baroque Christmas Eve, where the Matins of the feast played the role later taken on by the Midnight Mass. They were interspered with the psalms of Matins. And I regret to report that folks often hung out in the courtyard outside the church until someone told them that another villancico had started! Then they would rush in. The clergy strongly disapproved.
Just enjoy the lovely singing of the Coro Exaudi de la Habana.

Solemnity of the Mother of God - Old and New

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Since today is a solemnity, we'll have two, yes two, videos. Both are in the indigenous languages of the New World.

The first is a recording by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE), one of my particular favorites of Hanacpachap, an anonymous tune in Quechua from the 17th century.

The second comes from the recently-premiered Mass of the Americas by my wonderful composer  friend, Frank La Rocca. A setting of the Ave Maria in a Nahuatl translation for soprano soloist, marimba, violin, and organ, this is a gem that I hope moves into the concert repertoire. Arlyss Hayes is the soprano.

You'll find a translation of Hanacpachap below the two videos. And by the way - Happy New Year!

The bliss of Heaven,
I will worship you a thousandfold,
revered fruit of a mature tree,
long awaited by your people,
protection of spiritual strength,
heed my call.

To escape from the sins of the devil
help me with your strength,
so that I your child,
this orphan of yours,
will have existence and li…

Veni redemptor gentium by Andrew Smith

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Christmastide continues with New York Polyphony's performance of this lovely work by Andrew Smith.
Learn more about this contemporary British-Norwegian composer here. And more about New York Polyphony here. Four fantastic voices performing a piece that combines the chant with lovely polyphony.