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Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Voicing: SATB with Treble Choir
Instrumentation: Brass, Percussion, and Organ
Catalog number: AMP 5016
CANTUS NATALIS is a four-movement work for mixed chorus, treble choir, brass, percussion and organ. I was the Artistic Director of an annual festival of brass and choral music for sixteen years, and was constantly searching for larger works in the fifteen to twenty-five minute range for choirs and brass. Also, there was a youth treble choir compliment to the festival, and this further underlined the need for works with adult mixed chorus, treble choir, brass, percussion and organ. Although the present work was not finished until years later, still the idea was born. And today more than ever, community mixed choirs are forming youth choirs as part of their overall structure, and looking for works to unify these forces.
No one could argue the pomp and celebratory nature of brass, percussion and organ in tandem. Of course, history has bore this out with coronations, celebration of victory, and even occasions of great sadness. Many such events are ushered in by a fanfare, and so I wrote a slightly extended three-minute instrumental fanfare to begin Cantus Natalis. (I was a trombonist in my youth, and wanted to write a difficult opener to get the instrumentalist's [and audience's] attention early on.) Movement II heralds in the announcement of “Hodie apparuit Emmanuel” with strongly accented unisons, followed by “eia” (“joy”) in a series of contrapuntal ideas. Movement III uses a macaronic text (English and Latin), opening with an unaccompanied chant based on “Lo, How a Rose” and then moving to “The angels sing Osanna,” ushered in by the treble choir, and joined in a nearly tutta forza dynamic to end. The fourth and final movement (“Lauda Sion”) is more earthy or primal, juxtaposed by the treble choir (“Good Shepherd, True Bread, feed and protect us”). And, like the final scene of an opera or music theater production, all forces lock step into a full, sonorous ending of joy.
Note: The TREBLE CHOIR (movements III. and IV.) can be a children's choir, older youth choir, or an adult treble contingent of the mixed choir. A younger group is preferred.
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