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Sea Chanters on Tour (2000)

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1. Of Crows and Clusters

Norman Dello Joio


2. Aftonen

Hugo Alven


Three Poems by Emily Dickson

3. Belshazzar had a Letter

4. To Make a Prairie

5. Answer July (Vidala)


Jean Berger


6. The Nearness of You

Hoagy Carmichael
arr. Mac Huff


7. Can't Buy Me Love

John Lennon/Paul McCartney
arr. Keith Abbs


8. Michelle

John lennon/Paul McCartney
arr. Grayston Ives


9. Besame Mucho

Consuelo Velazquez
arr. Kirby Shaw


10. Chantey Medley

arr. Eric Knight


11. View me, Lord, A Work of Thine

Jackson Berkey


12. Let there be Peace on Earth

Sy Miller/Jill Jackson
arr. MUC James L. Turk


13. If Music be the Food of Love

David C. Dickau


14. Who Walk with Beauty

Hubert Bird





Liner Notes

In their forty-four year history, the Sea Chanters have evolved from an all-male chorus specializing in the old songs of the sea to a top-notch professional mixed chorus with a seemingly unlimited repertoire. This recording is but a sample of the variety of styles that the Sea Chanters perform regularly throughout the nation. From beautiful sacred and secular choral works to popular songs by Hoagy Carmichael or the Beatles, you will hear selections as diverse as America herself. And, yes, we have also included a collection of some of the most popular Sea Chanteys.


It is with considerable pride, that I point out the talent and professionalism of the men and women that make up the Sea Chanters. Each a fine soloist in their own right, but each one a consummate team player dedicated to producing outstanding choral balance and blend. As this recording marks my final project with the group, I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication during my tenure.


The success of the Sea Chanters must also be attributed to the support and direction of Commander Ralph M. Gambone and to the encouragement and guidance of our friends Dale Warland, Lloyd Pfautsch, Robert Young and Bruce Trinkley.


It is with a great deal of excitement that we offer you now "The Sea Chanters On Tour"!

-MUCM Chuck Yates


Of Crows and Clusters is an exquisitely crafted setting of Vachel Lindsay's poem, Two Old Crows. In this poem, two old crows are sitting on a fence rail musing about cause and effect, which is later illustrated by the presence of a threatening bee. Dello Joio's challenging piano accompaniment and his wonderful use of dynamics, staccato and trills, vividly capture the essence of the buzzing bee. In naming the work Of Crows and Clusters, he has created an amusing play on words with his use of chord clusters throughout the piece. Vachel Lindsey (1879-1931) was an American itinerant poet who roamed the country exchanging poems for food and shelter. One can easily imagine him sitting on a fence rail in rural America, playing the part of the crow in this delightful composition.


AFTONEN—Hugo Alfvén
Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén perfectly creates the mood for this song entitled Aftonen, or Evening. The musical setting is so well crafted as to conjure the image of a peaceful evening in the woods without ever hearing a word of the text. This sensitivity accounts for Alfvén's widespread popularity both at home in Stockholm and abroad. Alfvén's style is a representative example of the national romanticism prevalent in Swedish music of his time.


THREE POEMS by Emily Dickinson—Jean Berger
The choral works of Jean Berger are mainstays in any music library. These three separate but interwoven pieces were among the first to be added, back in 1980, when the Sea Chanters chorus, then under the direction of MUC James L. Turk, evolved from a male chorus to a mixed chorus. Berger has beautifully portrayed the text of each poem with three distinct styles. This is the Sea Chanters first recording of this wonderful pairing of Dickinson and Berger.


THE NEARNESS OF YOU—Hoagy Carmichael; arr. Mac Huff
Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael was an amazingly prolific composer of American popular songs. From a young age, Hoagy was a self proclaimed "jazz maniac" and his bumpy road to fame was paved by such memorable melodies as Stardust, Georgia on My Mind, Lazy River, Heart and Soul and, of course, The Nearness of You. Written in 1937, the same year that he married New York model Ruth Meinardi, this song was featured in the Paramount motion picture, Romance in the Dark.


THE KING'S SISTERS LENNON AND MCCARTNEY COLLECTION—John Lennon and Paul McCartney; arr. Keith Abbs and Grayston Ives
It would be difficult to overestimate the impact that the Beatles had on the "popular" music scene. These arrangements of the popular Beatles songs, Can't Buy Me Love and Michelle, are part of a collection of twelve Lennon and McCartney songs performed and recorded by The King's Singers. These rock and roll originals lend themselves surprisingly well to the madrigal style. Regardless of the style these Beatles "standards" continue to delight audiences everywhere and were a very successful addition to the Sea Chanters 1999 Spring Tour.


BÉSAME MUCHO— Consuelo Velazquez; arr. Kirby Shaw
Kirby Shaw arranged this popular 1940's Latin tune for SATB choir in 1998. A literal translation of the lyrics are as follows: Kiss me a lot, as if tonight was the last time; For I am frightened to lose you afterwards; I want to have you close to me; To see myself in your eyes; To see you beside me; Realize that tomorrow I will be so far away from you. This song was part of the spring 1998 Sea Chanter tour program and was very popular with audiences of all ages.


CHANTEY MEDLEY—arr. Eric Knight
This collection of several of the old "songs of the sea" is the basis for the group's formation back in 1956. For many years Sea Chanteys were the principal repertoire for the original male chorus. Today these unique songs remain an important part of naval heritage and tradition and continue to be an integral part of the Sea Chanter repertoire. This particular collection of some of the best known chanteys was arranged for the Sea Chanter men by Eric Knight for a 1982 performance with Maestro Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. It contains some of the best known chanteys including Blow The Man Down, A Rovin', What Shall We Do With A Drunken' Sailor and the beautiful Shenendoah.


In 1995, Friends of Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum, Nebraska's Professional Chorale, commissioned Jackson Berkey to compose a work in memory of his mother and his wife's mother, as well. Thoughts and Remembrances includes four pieces, the second of which is the hauntingly beautiful View Me, Lord, a Work of Thine. Berkey chose the text of English Renaissance poet Thomas Campion (1567 - 1610). Campion was a true Renaissance man, studying law and music at Cambridge and serving as a soldier and finally a physician. He set his own poetry to music, composing and performing some 119 songs for lute and solo voice, and supplied both texts and music for masques of the court of James I. Jackson. Jackson Berkey, an accomplished composer, performer, recording artist, producer and solo pianist, has aptly found a soul-mate in Campion to celebrate his "endless love of the Lord, his mother, and music."


LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH—Sy Miller and Jill Jackson; arr. MUC James L. Turk
Let There Be Peace on Earth was arranged for the Sea Chanters in 1984 by Chief Musician James L. Turk, then Director of the Sea Chanters. This arrangement was performed by the chorus at Carnegie Hall, and is frequently sung as an encore for Sea Chanter concert tours.

This work was co-commissioned as a special project of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. Dr. Dickau is currently the Director of Choral Activities at Mankato State University where he conducts the Concert Choir and teaches conducting and composition. He also directs Magnum Chorum, the Twin Cities, St. Olaf College alumni choir. This work was premiered by the 1997 Minnesota All-State Choir under the direction of Paul Oakley at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in February 1998.


The elegant ebb and flow of Hubert Bird's composition is a perfect match for the poetry of prize-winning Kentucky born poet David Morton (1886-1957). Dr. Bird, whose compositions have received both national and international acclaim, served on the faculty of the Music Department at Keene State College of the University System of New Hampshire from 1967-1997. A reviewer for the New York Times called Dr. Bird's work "modern music of beauty, grace and elegance. It speaks directly to its audience with strength and conviction."

Robert H. Young set three poems by American poet Lew Sarett to music in this work commissioned by the Keynote Arts Associates for the 1996 Manhattan Choral Festival. Young, a composer in residence at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, had the opportunity to hear the Sea Chanters sing his work at the 1998 Southwest American Choral Director's Association Convention in Corpus Christi. God Is At the Anvil, Deep Wet Moss and Hang Me Among Your Winds are part of the Collected Poems of Lew Sarett, 1941. A professor at the School of Speech at Northwestern University, Sarett developed his love of nature and his inspiration for these poems from the summers he spent as ranger and guide in the Northwest.


The two sacred pieces, O Lord, How Can We Know Thee? and Cause Us, O Lord, are part of a collection of three ancient prayers composed by Ron Nelson in the early 1960s. The meditative texture of the music perfectly compliments the texts, which are taken from The Book of Prayer. Nelson's innovative style and his ability to experiment successfully with vocal and instrumental color, while still remaining accessible to the listener and the performer, has made him a celebrated composer in both orchestral and choral music.


DANUEL, Op. 51, a—Kirke Mechem
Written in the style of the spiritual, this original composition has been adapted from Kirke Mechem's opera in progress based on the life of abolitionist John Brown. Mechem blended words from the spiritual Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?, with passages from his own opera libretto to create this stirring song of deliverance. Danuel opens Act II and is derived from a real incident, which occurred in December of 1858. Mechem writes, "Brown helped a slave family escape to Kansas from Missouri, and then led them to safety into Canada. During that time the mother gave birth to a boy whom she and her husband (baritone soloist in Danuel) named after John Brown." In addition to their many performances of Danuel on tour, the Sea Chanters also performed the piece for the 1997 American Choral Directors Association Convention in Providence, R.I.


This patriotic anthem is taken from Dr. Bruce Trinkley's work, The Pennsylvania Bicentennial Wagon Train Show, which played nationwide from 1975-1976. Trinkley has composed numerous large works, including The Bawd's Opera, which won the BMI National Varsity Show Award; The War Prayer, based on a short story by Mark Twain; and his largest work to date, Mountain Laurels, which was commissioned to celebrate the Centenary of State College, Pennsylvania in 1996. Mr. Trinkley heard the Sea Chanters perform at the 1997 American Choral Director's Association Convention in Providence, R. I., where he also met and spoke with director, MUCM Chuck Yates. He subsequently mailed the Sea Chanters a packet of his compositions, one of which was American Legacy.


PRAYER OF THE CHILDREN—Kurt Bestor; arr. Andrea S. Klouse
This piece was written for the 1996 Georgia All-State Junior High School Mixed Choir. It is a moving work dedicated to suffering children everywhere. Kurt Bestor won the Outstanding Film Score Award at the New York Film and Television Festival for his work for the film, A More Perfect Union.





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