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Camerata Program Notes

Amy Beach (1867-1944) is primarily remembered today for being the first female American female composer to write large‑scale compositions and the first American female composer to write a symphony (her Gaelic Symphony of 1895). Two additional Beach firsts are heard in the music which closes tonight’s program. Her Mass in E-flat, Op. 5, from which we hear a setting of words from the Gloria, dates from 1886. Premiered by the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston in 1892, it is considered among Beach’s first major successes as a composer as well as being the first mass setting written by an American woman.

Victor Kalinnikov (1870-1927) was the younger brother of Vasily Kalinnikov, best known today as a composer of symphonies and other orchestral pieces. The younger Kalinnikov was most active as a teacher, working at the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing (with its renowned men and boys choir) from 1897 to 1923. As a composer, Kalinnikov’s output was fairly small, consisting primarily of 24 short choral works. His setting of the prayer Bogoroditse Devo dates from 1914 and was revised four years later. Listen for figurations in the bass line representing the tolling of bells.

Artemy Vedel (c. 1767-1808) is known by modern scholars of Orthodox church music as one of the Golden Three of Ukrainian classical music in the 18th century. Starting in 1791, Vedel came into the service of Andrei Levanidov, a general in the Imperial Russian Army, to lead the regimental chapel and choir in Kyiv, where he experienced his most fertive and creative period as a composer. However, by 1799, Vedel was sent to St. Petersburg, having fallen under suspicion of taking part in a conspiracy against Tsar Nicolas I and threatening the Russian royal family. As a result, he spent close to a decade imprisoned as a mental patient and was forbidden from composing, with the authorities further banning performances of Vedel’s music in sacred settings, an edict which continued into the Soviet era. Vedel’s setting of Bogoroditse Devo is one of over 100 compositions by Vedel which survive.

The melody of the traditional Greenlandic Christmas carol Guuterput qutsinnermiu was first published in 1852, and is an example of Innerkut (personal songs). These are most often associated with weddings, anniversaries and birthdays and are typically performed at an extremely slow tempo. This weekend’s concerts feature a newly-composed arrangement by Cincinnati Camerata’s current music director, Ben Owen.

The text of the carol O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, texts sung as Magnificat antiphons during vespers services on the last seven days of Advent. It is most often sung in English-speaking countries to a translation by the 19th century Anglican priest and hymnwriter Jon Mason Neale. This weekend’s concerts feature a newly-composed arrangement for mixed chorus and large handbell ensemble by Cincinnati Camerata’s current music director, Ben Owen.

David C. Dickau served for nearly 30 years as director of choral activities at Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN. Now living in Idaho, he is still very active as a composer, conductor, clinician and teacher. Dickau’s 2003 choral work Stars I Shall Find sets one of the most well-known poems by Sara Teasdale, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for er poetry collection Love Songs.

Herbert Howells (1892-1983) is often regarded as one of the most revered and prolific British composers of choral music in the 20th century. In addition to secular and sacred antems and large scale choral-orchestral works that are still performed and recorded today, Howells composed nearly 30 mass and canticle settings for use in Anglican choral services. This weekend’s concerts feature the Magnificat (Song of Mary) which Howells composed for the choir of Gloucester Cathedral in 1946.

Very little is known about the life of Geronimo Gonzales, except for being remembered as the composer of “Serenissima una noche”. Among the most popular Spanish carols to emerge during the 16th-17th centuries, it is also known as a villancico, a song form typically associated with rustic or folk themes.

Ellen Harrison serves as Adjunct Professor of Composition at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati as well as chair of music theory and composition in the CCM Preperatory division. Fold Your Wings sets lines from two poems by Norman Finkelstein, recently-retired from the English department faculty at Xavier University in Cincinnati. The piece was commissioned by the CCM Harmony Fund, which promotes work in drama and music to fight for social justice and against hate and prejudice.

Kai-Young Chan is a Hong Kong-based composer who has written prolifically for orchestral, vocal and chamber forces. Previously a Benjamin Franklin Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his PhD in Music Composition, Chan currently teaches as an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Under the Mid-Autumn Moon sets a Cantonese poem by the 11th century calligrapher, essayist, poet and pharmacist Su Dong-Po. In Chinese culture, the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival falls on August 15 on the lunar calendar, and full moons represent the dual ideas of reunion and thoughts for family and friends.

Born in 1985 in the Ukranian city of Stryi, Elena Yunik studied choral conducting at Kharkiv National Kotlyarevsky University of Culture and Arts, graduating in 2008. Since 2015, she has served as a professor in the choral conducting program at the Samara State Institute of Culture in Samara, Russia. Yunik’s most significant compositions include settings of the traditional Russian Orthodox Vespers and All Night Vigil services as well as arrangements of Russian and Ukranian folksongs. She composed the third setting of Bogoroditse Devo featured in this weekend’s concerts in 2007.

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