A Majestic Setting for Wonderful Young Voices

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— A Message From our Director on Performing at the Cathedral of The Madeleine

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On Dec. 2nd and 4th the Salt Lake Children’s Choir will continue its long tradition of performing in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  It has been suggested that I convey a few thoughts of what this experience is like for me.  Inasmuch as I have been doing this for so long, one might think it may have become simply routine by now.  However, the reality is quite the opposite.

When I first made my proposal in 1984 to then Associate Rector, the Reverend Father, M. Francis Mannion, about a joint concert with my father’s Ralph Woodward Chorale, The Salt Lake Symphony and The Salt Lake Children’s Choir in the Cathedral of the Madeleine it did feel a little audacious. It was indeed a venture ‘into the unknown,’  However, following Father (now Monsignor [retired]) Mannion’s gracious approval and a very successful initial performance, each successive appearance of our choir in this lofty, inspiring space has had its own excitement, electricity and newness.  In fact, every time I and our eager young singers gather in the Cathedral, I am awestruck by the entire setting and the possibilities that await us and our audience.

Indeed, the combination of this majestic setting, with great music and wonderful young voices is something that never grows old for me–or seemingly, for our singers, past and present, or the audiences that return year after year.  As I interact with these young musicians during their singing, witnessing their accomplishment and somehow relating to what they are experiencing, I am inspired and often find myself asking, “How is it that I even get to be here doing this?” It seems the whole experience is a great gift all the way around–one which extends in many directions.  And most certainly, it is largely made possible through the decades-long kindness and support of officials and clergy at the Cathedral of the Madeleine who have so generously allowed us to be their guests.  My sincere appreciation and thanks go to all, young and old, who have allowed me, and so many others, to experience this wonderful tradition for so long.

Wishing all a wonderful Holiday Season,

Ralph B. Woodward, Founder-Director

Salt Lake Children’s Choir

Christmas Concerts 2016

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Mark your calendars!

December 2 & 4, 2016:  The choir continues its three decade-long tradition of Christmas concerts in Salt Lake City’s beautiful Cathedral of the Madeleine on Friday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 4.  The concerts will begin at 8 PM with the choir singing from the loft, and following a processional to the front, will feature music ranging from Palestrina and Bach, to carols old and new from around the world, to music written especially for the choir.  Among familiar carols to be performed are “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Angels o’er the Fields,” Il e ne le divin Enfant,” and “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” Also heard will be “The Newborn King,” a soulful spiritual,  the exciting “Torches” by British composer, Elaine Hugh-Jones and  “Do You Know What They Sang? by the choir’s director, Ralph B. Woodward.  Following the performance of the sublime “Sleep of the Child Jesus”: by Henri Büesser, the program will conclude with combined choirs and audience joining in several carol favorites. Accompaniment for the concerts will be provided by harpist Lysa Rytting and organist Ken Udy. The public is invited at no charge but admission is limited to those over 6 years of age.

December 5-9, 2016:  Portions from last year’s Cathedral concerts will be aired Monday through Friday, Dec.5-9 at 10 AM and 4:06 PM on KBYU-FM (Classical 89).

December 18, 2016:  The choir’s two ensembles will perform in several less formal settings (including care centers) during the Christmas season and then its final joint  performance will be a Community Christmas Concert (all ages welcome at no charge) Sunday, December 18 at 7:00 PM in the Federal Heights LDS Chapel.–located at Fairfax Road and Virginia Street (across from Shriners Hospital).

Auditions:  The choir is scheduling new-member auditions and invites any interested individuals to take advantage of the above opportunities to hear the choir.

Auditions 2016-17!

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7 children smiling and standing in a line

Members of the Salt Lake Children’s Choir

 

Our new season is peeking around the corner!

The Salt Lake Children’s Choir is preparing to begin our 37th season.  Many exciting performance opportunities lie ahead this year – including the traditional Christmas Cathedral Concerts, December 2 & 4, 2016 in the beautiful Cathedral of the Madeleine.

Auditions are currently being scheduled for all interested singers, ages 8-15.  No prior singing experience is required and no advance preparation is needed for the audition.  Schedule your audition appointment by calling 801-537-1412.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Program Notes – Spring 2016, part 2

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More thoughts from Ralph B. Woodward about pieces on the program this weekend.  Please scroll down to previous posts, to find concert details).  Our Choir hopes to see you in the audience!

Dancing Song”  (arr. Zoltán Kodály)

The “Kodaly Method” of music education is still taught world wide.  However, in addition to being a pioneer in the music education of young people, Zoltán Kodály, along with fellow Hungarian Bela Bartok, was an avid researcher and a great composer.  His masterful arrangement of the Hungarian “Táncnóta” (Dancing Song), with its tempo changes, dynamic shifts and electrifying ending, is always a big hit with our singers and audiences.

(For a sneak peek of a past year’s choir singing this number, please click here!)

Olha a Rosa Amarela”  (Brazil)

We have given this Brazilian folk song a Samba treatment–complete with percussion.  (The kids have trouble standing still.)

The Old Chisolm Trail

Not all so-called “cowboy songs’ are authentic (some of the best known actually been written by Eastern songwriters).  But this one really is authentic–and is complete with a fair dose of cowboy humor.  Our young “buckaroos” (especially the littlest ones) enjoy “saddling up” and singing this one.

Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume” (Vienna, City of My Dreams)

This extremely charming waltz by Rudolf Siecynski is much loved throughout the German-speaking world (and beyond) and is a crowd-pleaser wherever and whenever we sing it.

Calypso Loco

This piece, written in the Calypso style, just keeps piling on the parts until it arrives at a state of total “craziness.”

“Evening Prayer

This is a personal favorite–maybe because of the way it came about and the feeling it seems to convey.

A Day in Spring

Our traditional “finale,” when many former choir members come up and participate–always making it a sentimental “spring reunion” for everyone.

 

Program Notes – Spring 2016, part 1

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With our major Spring performances coming up at the end of the week, we are pleased to share with you some program notes written by the choir’s founder and director, Ralph B. Woodward.  Hopefully this will give you additional insight and appreciation for the pieces you will hear the choir perform.  We will have notes on additional program pieces throughout the week.

Now Is the Month of Maying” (Thomas Morley)

The 16th Century (the time of Shakespeare) was the golden age of the English Madrigal (secular polyphonic song), and “Now Is the Month of Maying” is among the most famous.  I was contacted not long ago by an English choir director, who had seen us perform it on YouTube asking about the arrangement we use (which happens to be by Jerry Wesley Harris).  So, if she, being from England likes it, I guess we’re on solid footing.  The kids really enjoy singing it.

Song of the Skylark” (Johannes Brahms)

One of the great genres of vocal music is the German Art Song, and I have surveyed virtually all the songs of Schubert, Brahms, Schumann and Mendelssohn in search of material suitable for our choir.  Some which we sing were already familiar to me, but some were not, and may not be to our audiences.  One of these, “Song of the Skylark,” (Lerchengesang), is particularly beautiful in its wistfulness.  The 3 against 4 beat rhythm (choir vs. piano) ads to the song’s poignancy.

Impromptu #2 in E-flat Opus 90  (Franz Schubert)

We are proud to feature brilliant young pianist and choir member, Caleb Spjute performing this extremely virtuosic work.  You may want his autograph after you hear him play (others have).

Blagoslavi dushe moya Ghospoda” (Pavel Chesnokov)

This work (translation: Bless the Lord, my soul), with its rich harmonies and extreme dynamic changes is a fine example of late 19th and early 20th Century Russian liturgical music.

How Excellent Thy Name”  (Howard Hanson)

I first heard this piece sung by a college choir and have liked it ever since.  It’s composer, Howard Hanson was the first director of the Eastman School of Music (where he remained for 40 years) and was one of the pre-eminent American composers of the 20th Century.  The work, whose text is taken from the Psalms, is very evocative and beautiful and I appreciate the remarkable insight our singers bring to it.

Springtime in the Rockies

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As the springtime blooms around us,  join the Salt Lake Children’s Choir and director, Ralph B. Woodward, for a beautiful evening of songs from around the world at First Presbyterian Church (South Temple and C Street) on May 13th or 14th, Friday/Saturday at 7:30 P.M.Spring2016 Poster_half size

The program will include art songs of Mendelssohn, Brahms and Franz Schubert–followed by a Schubert Intermezzo for piano performed by brilliant young pianist and choir member, Caleb Spjute.  Also heard will be Zoltan Koday’s fiery setting of the Hungarian “Dancing Song,” and the choir’s a cappella arrangements of the rhythmic “Olha a Rosa Amarela” from Brazil, the Mexican favorite, “Cielito Lindo,” and “El Condor Pasa” from Peru.  Of special interest will be the rich sonority of “Zadrimali Volne” and “Blagoslvi dushe moya Ghospoda” by Russian masters, Cesar Cui and Pavel Chesnokov, and the evocative and powerful “How Excellent Thy Name” 20th Century American composition and music education icon, Howard Hanson.

The concert will conclude with the sentimental favorite, “Springtime in the Rockies,’ followed by the choir’s entertaining “Calypso Loco,”(in seven parts)  and its traditional “A Day in Spring.” Tickets available at Day Murray Music, from choir members and at the door.  All seats are $10 ($6 students) and admission is open to all over age 6.  For further information, check our Facebook page or call 801-537-1412

Spring Concerts 2016

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The Salt Lake Children’s Choir, Ralph B. Woodward, Artistic Director, will present its annual Spring Concerts Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14 at 7:30 PM in the First Presbyterian Church (South Temple and C Street).

Choir on stage in church. Sunset through stained glass window.

Sunset during the Spring Concert 2013.

 

The program will include art songs of Mendelssohn, Brahms and Schubert and Zoltan Koday’s fiery setting of the Hungarian “Dancing Song.” Also on the program are the choir’s original a cappella arrangements of “Olha a Rosa Amarela” from Brazil, the Mexican favorite, “Cielito Lindo,” and “El Condor Pasa” from Peru.  Of special interest will be the rich sonorities of “Zadrimali Volne” and “Blagoslvi dushe moya Ghospoda” by Russian masters, Cesar Cui and Pavel Chesnokov, and the evocative and powerful “How Excellent Thy Name” by 20th Century American composition and music education icon, Howard Hanson.

The concert will conclude with the sentimental favorite, “Springtime in the Rockies,’ followed by the choir’s 7-part “Calypso Loco,” and its traditional “A Day in Spring.” Tickets available at Day Murray Music, from choir members and at the door.  All seats $10 ($6 students) and admission is open to all over age 6.  For further information, call 801-537-1412

Friends and family near Rexburg, Idaho can also hear the choir this spring.  The children will be performing at BYU-Idaho on April 22, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in the Barrus Concert Hall.  Click here for information on obtaining tickets for this performance. 

2015 Year End News

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Choir singing on stage surrounded by crowd.

Standing room only at the Choir’s concerts Dec 4 & 6, 2015

Thank you from the choir for the outstanding audience that attended the Cathedral Concerts!  It was standing room only both nights.  In case you left early or decided not to try to squeeze in last weekend, please know that the choir has one more public concert left this year.

 

Our Family Community Christmas Concert will be Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 7:00 P.M. at the Federal Heights LDS Chapel (1300 East Fairfax Road – across from Shriner’s Hospital).  This concert is open to all ages and will feature most of the same repertoire performed at the Cathedral last weekend.

Finally – you may already be aware from our radio appearances and ads on Classical 89 that the Choir is conducting mid-year auditions.  We would love to have your child, niece, nephew, neighbor, cousin, friend,  or grandchild between the ages of 8-15 audition for the Choir.  Please contact our director at 801-537-1412 to schedule an appointment.   No previous singing experience is required.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you from the Salt Lake Children’s Choir!

 

Cathedral Christmas Concerts, 2015

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The Choir’s traditional Cathedral Christmas Concerts will be presented at 8:00 PM Friday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 6 in the Cathedral of the Madeleine (331 E. South Temple).

The program will include music of Palestrina, Bach and Handel, as well as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”,”Il est né le divin Enfant” and other carols, both old and new, from around the world. Also heard will be “Blagosovi dushe moya Ghospoda” by Russian master Pavel Chsnokov, “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” by noted American composer, and “O Bethlehem” by the choir’s director. The evening will conclude with the choir singing the sublime “Sleep of the Child Jesus, Henri Büsser followed by audience and combined choirs joining in several carol favorites.

Harpist Lysa Rytting and organist Ken Udy will provide accompaniment.

The public is invited at no charge, but admission is limited to those over 6 years of age.

Hope and Remembrance – An Armenian Evening

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Rising from Genocide, Monday, October 12, 2015, 7:30 p.m. Libby Gardner Hall, 1375 President's Circle, University of Utah. Tickets $10 at the door.

The Salt Lake Children’s Choir is excited to participate in ‘Rising from Genocide’, a concert of Armenian music and performers.

A special commemorative concert, “Hope and Remembrance,” will be presented Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:30 P.M. in Libby Gardner Hall.  Featured will be Grammy Award-winning violinists, Igor and Vesna Gruppmann, noted Armenian soprano, Elada Chakoyan, Judd Sheranian of the Utah Symphony, noted pianists, Armine Ghazaryan and Karine Rafael, and the Salt Lake Children’s Choir.

The program will feature music by some of Armenia’s greatest composers, possibly unfamiliar to many in the West, such as Komitas, A.Tigranian and A. Babajanian–and will range from the sacred, 10th Century “Havun-Havun” to Aram Khachaturian’s famous “Sabre Dance.” Also heard will be J. S. Bach’s immortal Concerto for Two Violins in D Major, Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in E Minor,  Woodward’s “Alleluia” (sung by the Salt Lake Children’s Choir) and “Echoes of Armenia” by Karine Rafael.

This is a rare opportunity to hear both familiar masterworks performed by world renowned artists and beautiful, but rarely-heard, treasures from one of the great cultures of the world.

All seats are $10 and tickets will be available at the door.