North Country Chorus

Past Programs

Spring 2017

NCC presented two performances of Felix Mendelssohn's popular oratorio Elijah (sung in English). The title role of Elijah was sung by baritone Lucas Weiss. Other featured soloists were sopranos Julie Drown and Katharine DeBoer, and tenor Talan Bryant.

Singers were accompanied by Peter Beardsley, organ, and Robert Wilson, piano.

Musical Director Alan Rowe led the performance.

Saturday 6 May at Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 7 May at United Community Church
– South Building, St. Johnsbury, VT

Elijah depicts events in the life of the Biblical prophet taken from I Kings and II Kings of the Old Testament. Although composed in German, it premiered in 1846 at the Birmingham Festival, England, in an English version conducted by the composer – and was an instant audience success. Mendelssohn loved the Baroque music of Bach and Handel and modelled his oratorio after them, while incorporating the lyricism and orchestral color of the Romantic era.

Video of the Sunday performance (KATV)

Elijah

 

Christmas 2016

This season's program, led by Musical Director Alan Rowe, included A Christmas Cantata by Arthur Honegger, Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and several other short works.

NCC was joined by The Caledonia Children's Chorus at Lyndon Institute, under the direction of Susanne Norwood.

Lucas Weiss, baritone
Joseph K. Hansalik, piano
Robert Wilson, organ

  • Friday 2 December at First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
  • Saturday 3 December at Wells River Congregational Church, VT
  • Sunday 4 December at Peacham Congregational Church, VT
photos | video (KATV)

 

Spring Concert 2016

North Country Chorus once again welcomed St. Johnsbury Academy's Hilltones as collaborators in its annual Spring Concert series. The featured pieces were Mass in G by Franz Schubert and Requiem for the Living, composed by Dan Forrest in 2013. Several other short works were performed by the Hilltones. Accompaniment was provided by NCC's keyboard artist Jan-Piet Knijff and a chamber orchestra. The entire ensemble performed under the leadership of NCC Musical Director Alan Rowe.

  • Friday 29 April, 7:30 pm, at First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
  • Saturday 30 April, 7:30 pm, at Bradford Congregational Church, Bradford, VT
  • Sunday 1 May, 2 pm, at North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, VT

Schubert wrote in nearly every musical genre during his short life (1797-1828). He and his contemporary Beethoven formed the transition between the Classical and Romantic periods. Schubert composed his Mass in G during one week in March 1815 at the age of 18. It consists of six movements and uses the traditional text of the Roman Catholic Mass. Featured soloists in this piece were soprano Julie Drown, tenor Andrew Lidestri, and baritone Talan Bryant.

Traditionally a Requiem is a prayer for rest for the deceased. Dan Forrest (b. 1978) describes his Requiem as "a narrative just as much for the living, and their own struggle with pain and sorrow, as for the dead." Forrest takes some liberties with the traditional Requiem text, replacing the Dies Irae with passages from Ecclesiastes and Job. Solos were performed by sopranos Julie Drown and Annabelle Hicks and tenor Andrew Lidestri. Listen to the composer describe his creative process.

Image © Copyright Maigheach-gheal and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

68th Annual Christmas Concert ~ 2015

This program featured J.S. Bach's masterpiece Magnificat and A Child's Christmas in Wales, a contemporary setting of excerpts from Dylan Thomas' classic work by American composer Matthew Harris. Felix Mendelssohn's chorus "Behold a Star from Jacob Shining" rounded out the program.

Friday 4 December, 7:30 pm, at First Congregational Church, Littleton
Saturday 5 December, 7:30 pm, at Wells River Congregational Church
Sunday 6 December, 3 pm, at Peacham Congregational Church

Read the full text of A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Listen to Dylan Thomas read it.

Watch video of Peacham performance | Purchase DVD

 

Spring Concert 2015

featuring Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

Friday 1 May, 7:30 pm, at First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 2 May, 7:30 pm, at Bradford Congregational Church, Bradford, VT
Sunday 3 May, 3 pm, at South Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, VT

NCC was joined by the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltones and the St. Johnsbury School Chorus, who also sang several short works on their own.

Soloists:
Julie Drown, soprano
Phil Brown, tenor
Gary Moreau, baritone

Pianos: Vivian Spates and Mark Violette
Percussion: Rick Erwin, Ben Longo, Rory Donnelly, Kaci Cochran
Flutes: Jeffrey Fullerton, Libby Hillhouse

NCC Musical Director Alan Rowe led the entire ensemble.

Carl Orff is chiefly remembered for his far-reaching contribution to music education and for his dramatic cantata, Carmina Burana, written in 1936. Orff came from a musical family. He became fascinated with the power of primitive rhythms and simple melodies. With Carmina Burana he chose a deliberately simplified style, characterised by its rhythmic energy and repetition of short melodic phrases. Dismissed by the critics, the work immediately appealed to the public and has remained a favourite ever since.

The text of Carmina Burana is from a large collection of secular poems of the 12th and 13th centuries, preserved at the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuren. They are mostly in Latin, though some are in old French or Middle High German, and come from a variety of sources. Apart from some poems that are morally uplifting, most are bawdy student songs celebrating such un-monklike earthly delights as drinking, gambling, dancing and lovemaking.

Orff described Carmina Burana as a 'scenic cantata'. It was originally designed for the stage, with dancing and mime accompanying the music. The work begins and ends with a powerful hymn to the goddess Fortuna, Empress of the World, seen as a monstrous wheel carrying its victims first to the heights, then dashing them to the ground. In between come three main sections. The first depicts Spring, Primo Vere, illustrated by rustic songs and dances. The second is set in a tavern, vividly described by a succession of characters including the swan on the spit, who laments his dreadful fate. Part III, The Court of Love, is an uninhibited celebration of the delights of love. The final number, Blanziflor and Helena, leads back to the opening hymn, unifying the whole work, and acting as a pertinent reminder that our lives are ever subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune.

Notes by John Bawden, Musical Director, Fareham Philharmonic Choir, UK

 

67th Annual Christmas Concert – 2014

Handel's Messiah

Friday 5 December, 7:30 pm at First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 6 December, 7:30 pm at Wells River (VT) Congregational Church
Sunday 7 December, 2:30 pm at North Congregational Church, St Johnsbury, VT

Orchestra, chorus and soloists were directed by Alan Rowe.

The quartet of vocal soloists consisted of North Country favorites: soprano Julie Drown, alto Maria Weber Lamson, tenor Phil Brown, and bass Gary Moreau. Accompanying the group was a corps of string performers including Larry Blaine, Jan Sparks, Chris Nourse, Doug Kandall, and Nick Johnson. Additional accompaniment was provided by Bruce Stevens on harpsichord, David Heintz and Martin Gilmartin on trumpet, and Matt Nolan on timpani.

Messiah is Handel's best known oratorio. The German-born composer visited England in 1710 and, finding great success there, adopted it as his home. He composed Messiah in twenty-four days during the late summer of 1741 using passages selected from Old and New Testament Scriptures. Upon completing the famous "Hallelujah Chorus" he later recalled, "I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the Great God himself." Handel conducted Messiah's first performance in Dublin, Ireland on April 13, 1742, as a benefit for three of the city's charities. Attended by Dublin's most fashionable patrons, it was an immediate and resounding success.

Summer 2014

Summer Lite with a Scoop ~ Songs of Life and Songs of Love

A program of short works, both classical and popular, by Carole King, Brahms, Kodaly, Durufle, Morley, and Orlando di Lasso, and featuring a medley from Bernstein and Sondheim's "West Side Story"

Friday 18 July at Littleton Opera House (air-conditioned!)
Saturday 19 July at Wells River Congregational Church

Bob Mead, Guest Conductor
Jean Anderson, Pianist

North Country Chorus gratefully acknowledges Bishop's of Littleton and Slick's of Woodsville for their generosity in making this event a success.

Spring 2014
Mozart and More

The program featured two works by W.A. Mozart: Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and Regina Coeli. The chorus also performed several short contemporary works, including the spiritual Hold On! (arr. Simpson) and Exultate Justi by Randol Alan Bass.

St. Johnsbury Academy's select choir, the Hilltones, joined NCC in several pieces and perform five selections of their own:

  • Tango To Evora by Loreena McKennitt/arr. Washburn
  • Nothin' Gonna Stumble My Feet by Greg Gilpin andJohn Parker
  • A Boy and A Girl by Eric Whitacre; poem by Octavio Paz
  • Requiem by Eliza Gilykson; arr. Hella Johnson
  • Ka Hia Manu by Stephen Hatfield

The concert included orchestra accompaniment and a quartet of solo voices from the region. Soprano Julie Drown and baritone Bob Mead are longtime members of the chorus. Alto Susanne Norwood of East Burke and tenor Andrew Lidestri of Lyman rounded out the quartet.

The choruses, orchestra and soloists were under the direction of Alan Rowe.

Friday 2 May at 7:30 pm ~ South Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, VT
Saturday 3 May at 7:30 pm ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 4 May at 3 pm ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT Watch the video!


66th Annual Christmas Concert – 2013

This holiday program featured brass accompaniment and included:
Gloria by John Rutter
In Dulci Jubilo, arr. Pearsall
Christmas Cantata by Daniel Pinkham
O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen
and more ...
Traditional carol sing with audience

Alan Rowe, Musical Director

Friday 6 December ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday
7 December ~
Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday8 December ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT Watch the video!


Summer 2013

Summer Lite ~ An Evening with Frost and Forbush

NCC presented two concerts of American music to celebrate the 250th anniversaries of the sister towns of Newbury and Haverhill.

Saturday 3 August, 7:30 pm ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 4 August, 7:30 pm ~ Haverhill Congregational Church, Haverhill, NH

The all-American program featured:
Frostiana, Randall Thompson's settings of Robert Frost poems
Amazing Grace, arr. George Shearing (piano solo)
The Way You Look Tonight
Bye, Bye Blues
Body and Soul (piano solo)
selections from South Pacific

Guest Conductor: Bob Mead
Pianist: Jean Anderson

Dvorak

Spring 2013

Mass in D by Antonin Dvorak
Toccata in F Major, BWV 540, byJohann Sebastian Bach
Requiem
by
John Rutter

Alan Rowe, Musical Director
Peter Beardsley, Guest Organist

Friday 3 May at 7:30 pm ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 4 May at 7:30 pm ~ United Church of Christ, Bradford, VT
Sunday 5 May at 3 pm ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church Watch the video!

Antonin Dvorak (1841 - 1904) was a prolific Czech composer, famous in the United States for his New World Symphony. In 1887 he composed Mass in D, structuring it around the traditional liturgical movements. This original version, performed by NCC for the first time, was intended as an intimate work for soloists, chorus, and organ.

British composer John Rutter (b. 1945), popular among American audiences, composed his Requiem in 1985 and dedicated it to his recently-deceased father. It includes text from Psalms 23 and 130, the traditional Latin liturgy, and the English Burial Service. Last performed by the NCC in 2007, Requiem features exquisite soprano solos, sung by the chorus's long standing soloist Julie Drown. Accompaniment was provided by Elia Desjardins on harp, Anna Brown on cello, T Bradley Stouffer on timpani, Peter Gilmartin on oboe, Julia Fickes on flute, and Peter Beardsley on organ.

Fall 2012

Friday 30 November, 7:30 pm ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday
1 December, 7:30 pm ~
Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 2 December, 3 pm ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT
(Watch the video)

Alan Rowe, Musical Director
Jean Anderson, piano
Rebecca Kauffman, harp
Andrew Mallon, marimba
Brayden Baird, guitar

The program featured Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols and Conrad Susa's Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest.

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) began work on A Ceremony of Carols in 1942 “to alleviate the boredom” while returning to England from America on a Swedish cargo ship. His inspiration for the 10 carols came from the ancient texts he discovered in The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. Originally composed for treble voices with harp accompaniment, its popularity led the publisher to commission Julius Harrison to create the mixed voice arrangement that the Chorus performs.

Conrad Susa composed Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest as a companion piece for Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. It was commissioned and premiered in 1992 by Philip Brunnelle, director of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota. Inspired by a collection of traditional Spanish carols sung in the Southwest, Susa's carols honor the riches of the spirit in the face of poverty by telling the story of the nativity as seen through the eyes of peasants. The piece evokes family life and appeals to the child within each of us. Susa's choice of instrumentation (harp, guitar, and marimba) sprang from his "overriding image of a Southwestern piñata party for the new baby."

Summer Lite 2012

Thursday 2 August, 7:30 pm ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT
Friday 3 August, 7:30 pm ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 4 August, 7:30 pm ~ Haverhill Congregational Church, Haverhill, NH

Bob Mead, Guest Conductor
Jean Anderson, Pianist
Alan Rowe, Musical Director

This program of short works included a set of sacred pieces followed by American Spirituals, folk songs, popular standards, and a medley from The Fantasticks.


Spring 2012

The Bard and Beyond

Friday 4 May, 7:30 pm ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 5 May, 7:30 pm ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 6 May, 3 pm ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT (Watch the video)

Guest soloist ~ Geoffrey Penar, Baritone
Alan Rowe, Musical Director

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate ... This spring, at a time when the rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, the North Country Chorus presented three concerts featuring the works of William Shakespeare. Under the leadership of Music Director Alan Rowe and accompanied by pianist Jean Anderson, the Chorus sang arrangements adapted from Shakespeare’s plays and poems set to classical and contemporary music.

Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony. British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams created the exquisitely lovely Serenade to Music and Three Shakespeare Songs, including the hauntingly evocative “The Cloud-Capp’d Towers,” all of which the Chorus performed, honoring the 140th anniversary of the composer's birth.

With hey ho, the wind and the rain, it raineth every day. The Chorus sang three songs composed by American Matthew Harris within the last decade. Audiences may remember his setting of Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which the Chorus performed in 2009. In John Rutter’s jazzy rendition of “It Was a Lover and His Lass” the Bard tells us what was going on between the acres of the rye. Shakespeare’s text was also featured in works by William Schuman, Nils Lindberg, and Emma Lou Diemer.

Let all the world in every corner sing ... In addition to the Shakespeare songs, the Chorus performed excerpts from Vaughan Williams’s setting of George Herbert’s Five Mystical Songs, which featured guest baritone soloist Geoffrey Penar, a St. Johnsbury Academy alumnus, and a 2011 Honors graduate of the Eastman School of Music. Geoffrey also treated the audience to songs by Brahms and Mozart. He is currently in the Masters Program in Opera Performance at the McGill University Schulich School of Music, in the studio of Sanford Sylvan.

Christmas 2011

Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach
sung in English

Friday 2 December ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 3 December ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 4 December ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT (Watch the video)

Soloists:
Julie Drown, soprano
Maria Weber Lamson, alto
Phil Brown, tenor
Gary Moreau, bass

“Christians, be joyful, and praise your salvation.” So begins J.S. Bach’s exuberant first cantata in the Christmas Oratorio. The trumpets’ blare, the timpani’s boom, and the 75 voices of the North Country Chorus announce the celebration of Christ’s birth. They will be supported by a 15-piece orchestra, including NCC pianist Jean Anderson of Peacham playing continuo.

“Break forth, O beauteous, heavenly light.” In addition to the exuberant choruses, audience will enjoy reflective chorales, many familiar to the ear as popular hymn tunes, as well as arias, airs and recitatives from the soloists.

Bach composed this work as six cantatas, each intended for a major feast day of the Christmas season. Part I, for Christmas Day, describes the Birth of Jesus; part II, the annunciation to the shepherds; part III, the adoration of the shepherds, part IV, the circumcision and naming of Jesus; part V, the journey of the Magi; and part VI, for Epiphany, the adoration of the Magi.

Summer Lite 2011

A program of short pieces from many traditions – sacred, folk, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, pop standards
Bob Mead, Guest Conductor

Thursday 4 August at 7:30 pm, Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Saturday 6 August at 7:30 pm, Bradford (VT) Congregational Church – Katrina Munn Memorial Concert
Honoring the memory of the former organist and choir director of the church and accompanist of NCC

Spring 2011

Friday 29 April ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 30 April ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 1 May ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Four Serious Songs, Opus 121 by Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)
1. Denn es gehet dem Menschen wie dem Vieh
4. Wenn ich mit Menschen-und mit Engelzungen redete

Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795 by Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828), text by Willhelm Müller
1. Das Wandern
4. Danksagung an den Bach
6. Der Neugierige

Gary Moreau, baritone
Jean Anderson, piano

~~~~~~~~~

Gavotte with Variations by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 – 1764)

Impromptu in G flat, D 899 by Franz Schubert

Diane Huling, piano

~~~~~~~~~

A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms
(sung in English)

Alan Rowe, Musical Director

Julie Drown, soprano, and Gary Moreau, baritone
Jean Anderson and Diane Huling, piano (Brahms’s own four-hand piano arrangement)

In contrast to the traditional Catholic Mass for the Dead in Latin, Brahms selected the texts for his Requiem from the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha of the Lutheran Bible. These passages offer peace and glory to the dead while conveying comfort and hope to the living. Click here to read notes on Brahms' Requiem written by Gary E. Wait for the August 1984 performance by the North Country Chorus and the Randolph Singers, with the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra.

Christmas 2010
The Messiah by George Frideric Handel 

Friday 3 December ~ North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, VT
Saturday 4 December ~ Haverhill (NH) Congregational Church
Sunday 5 December ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church
(Watch the video)

Soloists
Julie Drown, Soprano
Maria Lamson, Alto
Phil Brown, Tenor
Gary Moreau, Bass

Alan Rowe , Musical Director


Orchestra
Violins: Larry Blaine, David Fickes
Viola: Paul Reynolds
Cello: Doug Kendall
Bass: Evan Premo
Trumpet: David Heintz
Timpani: Matt Nolan
Continuo: Jean Anderson

Spring 2010

Prayers from the Ark, Ivor Davies, text by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, translated by Rumer Godden
Gloria, Francis Poulenc
Abenlied zu Gott, Franz Joseph Haydn
Five Hebrew Love Songs, Eric Whitacre, text by Hila Plitmann


Friday, May 14, 2009 ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday, May 15, 2009 ~ United Church of Christ, Bradford, VT
Sunday, May 16, 2009 ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Christmas 2009

Magnificat by J.S. Bach
A Child's Christmas In Wales, a cantata composed by Matthew Harris and based on the memoir by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.


Friday 4 December ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 5 December ~ Wells River (VT) Congregational Church
Sunday 6 December ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Spring 2009

Requiem by Maurice Duruflé
Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky

Two settings of James Agee's text: Sure on This Shining Night

  • Solo arrangement by Samuel Barber, Soprano Julie Drown
  • Choral setting by Morten Lauridsen

Friday 1 May ~ United Church of Christ, Bradford, VT
Saturday 2 May ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 3 May ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Accompaniment by Pianist Jean Anderson of Peacham and organist Karen Miller of East Hardwick

Maurice Duruflé composed his Requiem in 1947 and dedicated it to the memory of his father. While most of its thematic material comes from the Gregorian Mass for the Dead, it is calmer and more contemplative than most other settings of that text.

Igor Stravinsky was commissioned to write Symphony of Psalms in 1930 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He chose verses from Psalms 39, 40 and 150 as the text for the piece's three movements.

Christmas 2008
The Messiah by George Frideric Handel 

Friday 5 December ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 6 December ~ Wells River (VT) Congregational Church
Sunday 7 December ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Soloists
Julie Drown, Soprano
Maria Lamson, Alto
Phil Brown, Tenor
Gary Moreau, Bass

Orchestra
Violins: Larry Blaine and
Melissa Streuli
Viola: Chris Nourse
Cello: Doug Kendall
Bass: John Hunter
Trumpet: David Heintz
Timpani: M. J. Park
Continuo: Jean Anderson

 The Messiah is Handel’s best known oratorio. The German-born composer visited England in 1710 and, finding great success there, adopted it as his home. He composed The Messiah in twenty-four days during the late summer of 1741 using passages selected from Old and New Testament scriptures. Upon completing the famous “Hallelujah Chorus” he later recalled, “I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the Great God himself.” Handel conducted Messiah’s first performance in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742, as a benefit for three of the city’s charities. Attended by Dublin’s most fashionable patrons, it was an immediate and resounding success.

November 2008
A Song for Their Supper

a varied program of light music

Saturday 1 November ~ Haverhill (NH) Congregational Church
Sunday 2 November ~ North Congregational Church, St Johnsbury, VT

A free will offering collected $1300 to benefit food banks in Haverhill, Littleton, Bradford, and St. Johnsbury.
More on how you can help.

Spring 2008

A program of varied short works, both sacred and secular.

Click here to view the program.

Friday, May 2 ~ United Church of Christ, Bradford, VT
Saturday, May 3 ~ Wells River (VT) Congregational Church
Sunday, May 4 ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Christmas 2007

Laud to the Nativity by Ottorino Respighi
Magnificat by CPE Bach

Friday 30 November ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH

Saturday 1 December ~ Wells River (VT) Congregational Church

Sunday 2 December ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Musical Director: Alan Rowe

Soloists: Instrumentalists:
Julie Drown, Soprano
Marietta Formanek, Soprano
Suzanne Norwood, Alto
Phil Brown, Tenor/Baritone
Jean Anderson, Piano
Bruce Stevens, Organ/Keyboard
Jeff Gold, Oboe
Ellen Gold, Flute
Sarah Deasy, Flute

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 - 1788) was the second and most famous son of Johann Sebastian Bach. While his music is not as well known to modern audiences as that of his father, C.P.E. Bach was known as the "Great Bach" during the second half of the 18th Century. As a leader among composers who were creating the transition between the Baroque and Classical eras, his influence on Haydn and Mozart was considerable. He composed the impressive and ornate Magnificat in 1747 in order to pave the way to a post as a church musician. It was performed in Leipzig during his father’s lifetime. The text, from The Gospel According to Saint Luke, Chapter 1, conveys Mary's wonder at having been chosen to bear the Son of God.

Ottorino Respighi (1879 - 1936) is best known for his symphonic works, including the Roman trilogy and three suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. Laud to the Nativity is one of only two choral works of this Italian composer. Its text was written by Jacopone de Todi, a 13th century Franciscan monk. As with much of Respighi's symphonic works, Laud to the Nativity is inspired by the madrigal, chant, and melodic forms of past centuries. The story of the nativity is told by soloists representing the Angel, the Virgin Mary, and a Shepherd, accompanied by choruses of angels and shepherds.

 

Spring 2007

Requiem by John Rutter
Lux Perpetua, Peace and Unity, by Jonathan Willcocks
Vocal solos by Geoffrey Penar

Friday 4 May ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 5 May ~ Wells River (VT) Congregational Church
Sunday 6 May ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

The music of John Rutter is very popular among American audiences. His Requiem includes text from the traditional Latin requiem liturgy and the English Burial Service as well as Psalms 23 and 130.

Jonathan Willcocks was commissioned by a musical director in Chicago to compose a choral piece on the theme of “Peace and Unity.” He received much of his inspiration for Lux Perpetua from his visits to World War I battlefields and from the birth of his daughter, representing the hope of the world.

Julie Drown, a favorite of North Country audiences,sang the soprano solos. Accompaniment for the concert was provided by pianist Jean Anderson and organist Barbara Connelly, as well as Brad Stouffer on percussion, Laura Tilghman on oboe, and Rebecca Hulme on cello. The entire ensemble was under the leadership of Musical Director Alan Rowe.

 

 

Christmas 2006

Hodie by Ralph Vaughan Williams
A Day for Dancing by Lloyd Pfautsch

Saturday, December 2 ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Sunday, December 3 ~ Peacham (VT) Congregational Church

Alan Rowe, Musical Director
Julie Drown, soprano
Gary Moreau, baritone
Jean Anderson, piano
Karen Miller, organ
David Heintz, trumpet
Dale Camara, French horn,
T. Bradley Stouffer, percussion, and others

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) composed works in many genres. His cantata Hodie (This Day) was first performed at the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester Cathedral, England, in 1954. The British composer and his wife, Ursula, compiled the libretto from nativity poetry throughout many centuries and linked them together with scripture recounting the Christmas story. Vaughan Williams demonstrated his versatility by setting these texts to a wide variety of musical styles and textures.

American composer Lloyd Pfautsch’s suite, A Day for Dancing, consists of nine colorful arrangements of both traditional and unusual carols with flute, oboe, bassoon, and percussion accompaniment.

Spring 2006

Friday 5 May ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 6 May ~ South Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, VT
Sunday 7 May ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Requiem by Gabriel Faure
Chichester Psalms
by Leonard Bernstein

Soloists included Julie Drown, soprano, Benjamin Dickerson, alto, and Gary Moreau, baritone.
Accompaniment was provided by Mary Holley on organ, Elia Nelson on harp,
Brad Stouffer on percussion.

Program notes

Christmas 2005

Messiah by George Frideric Handel
Friday 2 December ~ South Congregational Church, St Johnsbury, VT
Saturday 3 December ~ Haverhill (NH) Congregational Church
Sunday 4 December ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Soloists
Julie Drown, Soprano
Maria Lamson, Alto
Phil Brown, Tenor
Gary Moreau, Bass

 

 

Spring 2005

featuring Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

Friday 29 April ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 30 April ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 1 May ~ Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Gary Moreau, Baritone
Julie Drown, Soprano
John Hassell, Tenor
Jean Anderson
and Mary Holley, Pianists

Percussion: Brad Stouffer, Fabian Dettenreider, Nicholas Gallerani, Andrew Mallon

Flutes: Beryl Huang, Libby Hillhouse

Alan Rowe, Musical Director

Carmina Burana is characterized by its rhythmic energy and has been popular with audiences since its first performance in 1936. The text is from a large collection of secular poems of the 12th and 13th centuries, preserved at the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuren. They are mostly in Latin, though some are in old French or Middle High German, and come from a variety of sources. While they include some poems that are morally uplifting, most are bawdy student songs celebrating such un-monklike earthly delights as drinking, gambling, dancing and lovemaking.

Christmas 2004

Friday 3 December ~ First Congregational Church, Littleton, NH
Saturday 4 December ~ Wells River Congregational Church, Wells River, VT
Sunday 5 December ~Peacham Congregational Church, Peacham, VT

Arthur Honegger:

A Christmas Cantata
with Kingdom Community Youth Choir, Susan Cherry, Director

Antonio Vivaldi:

Gloria

Photo by George Mitchell

Spring 2004

Friday, April 30 ~ Littleton Congregational Church
Saturday, May 1
~ Wells River Congregational Church
Sunday, May 2
~ Peacham Congregational Church

Alan Rowe, Musical Director

Requiem W. A. Mozart
Nänie Johannes Brahms
Soon Ah Will Be Done, an African American spiritual William Dawson
Long Time Ago adapted by Aaron Copland
All My Trials, a Bahamian spiritual arranged by Norman Luboff

Fans of the 1984 film Amadeus will find many of the Requiem’s themes familiar. Count Walsegg commissioned the Requiem in mid-July 1791 to honor the memory of his late wife. Mozart was preoccupied by completing and conducting two operas and a clarinet concerto until October, when he began work on the Requiem. His health had been failing since late August, and by November 20 he was confined to bed. His work on the Requiem continued until his death from rheumatic fever on December 5. Mozart’s wife Costanze oversaw the completion of the Requiem. While details remain controversial, it is generally agreed that the composition was completed by Franz Süssmayr, a pupil of Mozart.

Soloists: Accompaniment:
Julie Drown, Soprano Jean Anderson, piano
Suzanne Norwood, Alto Bruce Stevens, organ
Phil Brown, Tenor David Sheerin, trombone
William Cotte, Bass Andrew Mallon, timpani

Johannes Brahms’ Nänie, composed in 1881, laments the inevitable transience of beauty and perfection. It is a choral setting of an ode by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, author of Ode to Joy, and draws its inspiration from classical Greek mythology.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas 2003

Sunday, December 7, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
The St Johnsbury School
Featuring Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest by Conrad Susa and
Amahl and the Night Visitors
, an operetta by Gian-Carlo Menotti

Conrad Susa composed Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest as a companion piece for Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. It was commissioned and premiered in 1992 by Philip Brunnelle, director of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota. Inspired by a collection of traditional Spanish carols sung in the Southwest, Susa's carols honor the riches of the spirit in the face of poverty by telling the story of the nativity as seen through the eyes of peasants. The piece evokes family life and appeals to the child within each of us. Susa's choice of instrumentation sprang from his "overriding image of a Southwestern piñata party for the new baby." Accompaniment was provided by harpist Elia Nelson, guitarist Peter Matthews, and Andrew Mallon on marimba.

In 1951 NBC commissioned the 40 year old composer Gian-Carlo Menotti to write a Christmas opera for the new medium of television. After struggling to find an appropriate subject, Menotti found inspiration in a famous painting of “The Adoration of the Magi,” which he happened upon while visiting New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. In less than two months Menotti finished the score of Amahl and the Night Visitors. As a young boy Menotti had become lame, a condition which confounded his doctors, and was cured miraculously after a visit to a holy shrine. The event not only changed his life, but provided him with the character of Amahl. He included in the opera some of the magical sounds of the Christmas season he remembered from his youth in his native Italy.

The beautiful score and poignant story, sung in English, appeals to all ages and musical backgrounds. Its message of how faith, love and charity can work miracles is inspiring to all. Young minds relate easily to the boy with a head full of dreams. Seventh grader Luke Meierdiercks played the title role of Amahl. Julie Drown, a longtime favorite of NCC audiences, played his mother. The Page and Magi were portrayed by Yorke Peeler, Matthew Hawkins, Ralph Aldrich, and Roger Daum. The Dancer was Rebecca Hulme. Oboist Jeff Gold and flutist Ellen Gold joined Jean Anderson, piano, in accompanying the performance.

Spring 2003
celebrating the life and works of Mary W. Rowe

Liebeslieder Waltzes (four-hands piano) by Johannes Brahms
Requiem
by Johannes Brahms
I Said "Yes" by Kathy Eddy

Alan Rowe, Director
Soloists: Julie Drown and Robert Mead
Piano: Jean Anderson
and Mary Holley
Violin: Marit Danielson
Tympani: Andrew Mallon

Friday, May 2 ~ Littleton Congregational Church
Saturday, May 3 ~ Peacham Congregational Church
Sunday, May 4 ~ Wells River Congregational Church

The Requiem of Johannes Brahms featured soloists Julie Drown, soprano, and Robert Mead, baritone. Jean Anderson and Mary Holley accompanied the chorus with Brahms’ own four-hand piano arrangement.

Vermont composer Kathy Wonson Eddy selected text by the poet Alicia S. Carpenter as the basis for her newly commissioned piece, I Said "Yes." The composer's deep admiration of Mary Rowe is evident in both the text and the music. The inclusion of a solo violin part reflects Mary's talent as a violinist. In the Sunday performance, Marit Danielson played the solo on Mary's own violin.

 

Photo by Hope Hutchinson

"Always watch the director!"

Chorus member and jester emeritus Jay Sprout paid tribute to Mary in his introductory comments.

 

55th Annual Christmas Concert 2002

Friday 6 December ~ Littleton, NH, Congregational Church
Saturday 7 December ~ Bradford, VT, Congregational Church
Sunday 8 December ~ Peacham, VT, Congregational Church

The program featured harp, brass, organ and piano accompaniment, as well as soprano Julie Drown, a favorite of North Country audiences, and other soloists.

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) began work on A Ceremony of Carols in 1942 “to alleviate the boredom” while returning to England from America on a Swedish cargo ship. His inspiration for the 10 carols came from the ancient texts he discovered in The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. Originally composed for treble voices with harp accompaniment, its popularity led the publisher to commission Julius Harrison to create the mixed voice arrangement that the Chorus performed, accompanied by harpist Heidi Soones.

"Mary Had a Baby" was composed by William L Dawson (1898 – 1990), founder and longtime director of the renowned Tuskegee Institute Choir. Dawson was a recognized authority on African-American spirituals and one of the first composers to arrange them for concert performance. Howard Helvey’s arrangement of "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day," a traditional English carol from 1833, was accompanied by piano duo Jean Anderson and Mary Holley.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 –1847) and his sister Fanny were recognized in early childhood as gifted musicians in their native Berlin. "Behold a star from Jacob shining" was one of the few choruses he managed to complete for his oratorio Christus before his short life ended at age 38.

The text of Magnificat, by Gerald Finzi (1901 – 1956), is based on Mary’s response upon learning from the angel Gabriel that she was to bear the Son of God. It was commissioned by Smith College Choir in 1952. Finzi’s setting is a bit of a departure from the majority of his songs and choral compositions which were inspired by his passions for English literature and the English countryside in which he lived. Accompaniment was provided by organist Mary Holley.

A brass ensemble accompanied Christmas Cantata by Daniel Pinkham (b. 1923). A prolific American composer, Pinkham teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music and was Music Director of historic King's Chapel in Boston for 42 years.

Spring 2002

Coronation Mass by W. A. Mozart
Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen
Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber
How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Johannes Brahms

Friday, May 3 ~ Littleton Congregational Church
Saturday, May 4
~ Bradford Congregational Church
Sunday, May 5
~ Peacham Congregational Church

Chorus, soloists and orchestra were directed by Alan Rowe. Vocal soloists included soprano Julie Drown, alto Marilyn Jewett, tenor Philip Brown, and bass William Cote.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed the Coronation Mass in 1779 during a three-year residency in his native Salzburg where he was appointed court organist. It has been characterized as the most joyful of Mozart's settings of the Mass. In his setting of the Agnus Dei can be heard themes which subsequently reappeared in his opera The Marriage of Figaro. Originally composed for Easter festivities, the mass acquired its nickname after being performed at the coronation of an Austrian emperor after Mozart’s death.

Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943), a native of the Pacific Northwest, composes and conducts in Southern California. His Lux Aeterna was first performed in 1997 and consists of five movements, each based on sacred Latin texts which refer to light

In 1967 Barber arranged Agnus Dei, a choral transcription of his popular Adagio for Strings, which he had arranged in 1938 from the slow movement of his string quartet of 1936.

Christmas 2001

For many music lovers the Christmas season is not complete without attending a performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah. Upper Valley audiences had three opportunities to hear this beloved oratorio performed by the North Country Chorus with soloists and chamber orchestra:

Soloists this season included soprano Julie Drown of St. Johnsbury and tenor Ralph Aldrich of Littleton, both familiar to longtime North Country audiences. Two other artists made their solo debuts with the chorus — bass Arthur Zorn and mezzo-soprano Maria Weber Lamson.

Spring 2001

Friday 27 April ~ Littleton, NH
Saturday 28 April
~ Wells River, VT
Sunday 29 April
~ Peacham, VT

Gloria, F Poulenc
Frostiana, R Thompson
Cantique de Jean Racine, G Faure

English Romantic part songs

Christmas 2000

Thursday 30 November ~ St Johnsbury, VT
Friday 1 December
~ Littleton, NH
Saturday 2 December
~ Wells River, VT
Sunday 3 December
~ Peacham, VT
Magnificat by JS Bach
Magnificat by John Rutter

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