December 18, 2013 8:30AM
The Pittsburg State University Choir has released a new CD for the holidays. “Winter’s Peace,” is the fourth in a series of holiday CDs the choir has recorded, beginning in 2007. According to Susan Marchant, director of the choir, proceeds from the sale of the recordings will help fund the choir’s spring trip to Scotland.
“While serving as a fundraising project,” Marchant said, “we hope the CD also provides a meaningful musical enhancement to the seasonal experience of those who listen to it.”
“Winter’s Peace” was recorded over a period of three weeks in November and December of 2013 in several locations. One of the locations was the McCray Hall lobby, built in 1929.
“The lobby approaches the sort of acoustical environment that is present in more spacious rooms (cathedrals or large halls) with stone walls or other hard surfaces,” Marchant said. “These are, in fact, the kinds of spaces for which much of this music was written, and they bring a lovely and appropriate richness to the performance.”
Marchant said that in choosing the selections to record for the CD, she was looking for a mix of both more and less familiar works.
“Of the 17 tracks on this disc, several are very well known, such as “Silent Night,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and “In dulci jubilo,” Marchant said.
Other tracks are well-known texts that are set to less familiar tunes, including “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the Hebrew prayer for peace, “Shalom.”
Several of the songs on the CD, like the French noel, “Chantons je vous prie,” a jaunty “Wassail Song,” and the spiritual, “Mary had a baby,” are drawn from folk traditions.
Marchant said the choir couldn’t sing in the lobby without including at least one chant -- in this case, “Conditor alme siderum.”
“We've drawn a number works appropriate to the season from our repertoire of concert pieces over the past few years, from Mendelssohn through composers of our time,” Marchant said, “and also included a piece that I composed for our tour of Italy in 2012, ‘Absorbeat.’”
The disc also includes a premiere performance of Kathryn Parke's new arrangement of “Blessed be that maid Mary.”
“This is an old English text and melody, and the arrangement concludes with voices imitating bells -- an effect that works beautifully in the richness of the McCray lobby,” Marchant said.
Overall, Marchant said, the 17 tracks on this year’s CD “are a bit more reflective in character” than the previous CDs.
“There are a number references in the music and texts to a desire for peace,” Marchant said. “That, combined with the cover design of a gentle snowfall outside McCray Hall, led us to this year's title, ‘Winter's Peace.’”
CD's are available for $15 each. Orders may be placed by calling 620-235-4476 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Orders also may be placed by mail, using forms available at www.pittstate.edu/department/music/choir-cd.dot. Sample tracks, as well as order forms for all of the choir’s previous holiday CDs are also available at that site.