Virginia Bronze Community Handbell Ensemble | Carols of the Bells

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Holiday: Classical Classical: Contemporary Moods: Mood: Seasonal
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Carols of the Bells

by Virginia Bronze Community Handbell Ensemble

Carols of the Bells includes many favorite songs to celebrate the winter holidays and features two works commissioned by Virginia Bronze.
Genre: Holiday: Classical
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Wake, Awake (Wachet Auf)
4:08 album only
clip
2. Dreamscape On "Still, Still, Still" (feat. Katie Burdis)
4:31 album only
clip
3. Ukrainian Carol of the Bells
2:28 album only
clip
4. What Is This Lovely Fragrance?
3:28 album only
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5. I Wonder as I Wander
3:01 album only
6. Season of Miracles: Meditation and Dance
5:12 album only
clip
7. Danse Arabe
4:17 album only
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8. Up On the Housetop
4:21 album only
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9. A Charlie Brown Christmas
4:40 album only
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10. The Rising Moon
5:41 album only
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11. Gifts of the Magi
4:16 album only
12. Doxology On "Conditor Alme Siderum" (feat. Dennis Edelbrock, Rick Lee, Scott Shelsta, Jack Tilbury, Doug Wallace, John Kilkenny & Woodrow English)
7:07 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Reviews from composers:

I just finished listening to the Season of Miracles track. I LOVE IT!! What you guys did with the piece is fantastic, what can I say. I am so pleased! Thank you so much for adding all the small touches here and there to make the piece and the recording what it is! We are partners in this project for sure.
- Andrew Bleckner, composer of Season of Miracles: Meditation and Dance

Wow. An incredible recording all around. Thanks so very much.
I’m so glad to get to hear the Doxology again; have not heard it – obviously! - since the AGO conference.
And it’s great to hear some new tunes I have yet to meet. The variety is terrific – and So Well Played. I love it!
- Hart Morris, composer of Doxology on "Conditor alme siderum"
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Carols of the Bells CD Insert

1. Wake, Awake (Wachet Auf)
by J.S. Bach
arranged by Anna Laura Page
Choristers Guild, ©2012
The Lutheran hymn “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stumme” (“Awake, the voice is calling”) is based on the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Composed by Philipp Nicolai, it was first published in 1599 and subsequently in English translation as “Wake, Awake, for the Night Is Flying.” Nicolai wrote during the time of the plague saying, “Day by day I wrote out my medians…to comfort other sufferers…with the pestilence.” The hymn is the foundation of Bach’s cantata by the same name (BWV 140) first performed in Leipzig, Germany, in 1731. “Wake, Awake” is considered by the Christian community as the iconic Advent hymn, instructing the listener to “Keep watch, the voice is calling!"

2. Dreamscape on ‘Still, Still, Still’
Traditional Austrian carol
arranged by Brian Childers
Alfred Publishing, ©2012
Katie Budris, Flute
“Still, Still, Still”, a traditional Austrian Christmas carol and lullaby, originally appeared in an 1865 folksong collection. The first line “Still, still still, weil’s Kindlier schlafen will!” translates to “Hush, hush, hush, for the little child wants to sleep!” The arranger, Brian Childers, conducts the “Queen City Ringers,” a community handbell group in Charlotte, NC. Virginia Bronze ringer, Katie Budris, provides the flute accompaniment.

3. Ukrainian Carol of the Bells
by Mykola Leontovich
arranged by Nicholas A. Hanson
Jeffers Publications, ©2014
In 1904, Mykola Leontovich, a Ukrainian composer, conductor and priest, wrote the original tune Shchedryk, known to the English speaking world as “Carol of the Bells.” Western audiences were introduced to it by the Ukrainian National Chorus on October 5, 1912 at Carnegie Hall. The tune is famous for its four-note ostinato, a phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice. Virginia Bronze Assistant to the Conductor, Nick Hanson, created this arrangement for the 2012-2013 Potomac Upper School Handbell Ensemble in McLean, VA, one of the four handbell ensembles that he directs at Potomac School.

4. What Is This Lovely Fragrance?
Traditional French Carol
arranged by Fred Gramann
AGEHR Publishing, ©2013
This tune comes from a 17th-century French carol of the Nativity of the Christ. John Gay, an English poet and dramatist, used the song in his ballad-opera, The Beggar’s Opera, adding folk-style lyrics calling the shepherds to the manger. This arrangement by the master composer, Fred Gramann, opens with a mysterious sound reminiscent of the music made by singing bowls in a Tibetan monastery, and then grows in intensity as the carol comes to life and sparkles with the joy of the season.

5. I Wonder as I Wander
Appalachian folk tune
arranged by Cathy Moklebust
Choristers Guild, ©2012
This Christian folk hymn, written by American folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles, is most often performed as a Christmas carol. Its origins are found in a song fragment collected by Niles on July 16, 1933 while attending an evangelical meeting in the town of Murphy in Appalachian North Carolina. A forlorn, ragged girl named Annie Morgan stepped onto an impromptu stage and began to sing a simple melody. Annie repeated the tune seven times, receiving a quarter for each performance. Niles left with “…three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material and a magnificent idea.”

6. Season of Miracles: Meditation and Dance
by Andrew Bleckner
Commissioned by Virginia Bronze
World Premiere December 15, 2013
Unpublished
Andrew Bleckner, a Philadelphia composer, describes the symbolism of his composition this way: “There are two primary aspects of Chanukah that resonate with me most (pun intended!), and they correspond with the two sections of this new work for bell choir. The first is that Chanukah marks a time or season of spiritual renewal and reconnection with the divine. The opening Meditation represents a musical calling to open ourselves to a higher, more universal connection with the world. The second aspect of the holiday is that it is a time for joy and celebration, and this is embodied in the second section of the work, subtitled Dance."

7. ‘Danse Arabe’ from the Nutcracker Suite
by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
transcribed by William H. Griffin
Beckenhorst Press, ©1997
“Danse Arabe” or “Arabian Dance” comes from the 1892 two-act ballet “The Nutcracker Suite” by the Russian composer, Tchaikovsky. “Danse Arabe” occurs in Act II when the two main characters, the child, Clara, and the magically animated nutcracker prince, return to the Sugar Plum Fairy Queen’s castle during a Yuletide ball. The Sugar Plum Fairy honors her guests with sweets from around the world, each accompanied by characteristic music. Listen for the unique Arabian mystique recreated in this handbell arrangement.

8. Up On the Housetop
by Benjamin R. Hanby
arranged by Arnold B. Sherman, ASCAP
Hope Publishing, ©1998
Little is known of composer Benjamin R. Hanby beyond his place of birth (Ohio), the dates he lived (1833-1867), and the fact that he composed what was probably the first secular Christmas song in American history with “Up on the Housetop.” When he wrote it is a mystery - most guesses place it sometime in the 1850s or 1860s - and it remains one of the most popular Christmas songs for young children. It probably owes its inspiration to the Clement Clarke Moore poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” or, as it is most popularly known, “'Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The music box and drumming effects are “text painting,” based on stanzas three and four of the song, about filling the stockings of Little Nell and Little Bill.

9. A Charlie Brown Christmas
by Vince Guaraldi
arranged by Kevin McChesney
Alfred Publishing, ©1996
A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered on December 9, 1965, was the first prime-time animated TV special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. Although producers initially thought the jazz soundtrack by Guaraldi would not work well for a children’s program, fifty percent of US televisions were tuned to that first broadcast, and, as of November 2013, A Charlie Brown Christmas was the tenth bestselling Christmas/holiday album in the US with 3,295,000 copies sold since 1991. The Library of Congress added the album to its National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings in 2012. You will hear Guaraldi’s original tunes “Christmas Time is Here," “Skating” and “Linus and Lucy” along with the traditional carol “O Tannenbaum” in this arrangement.

10. The Rising Moon
by Paul Sullivan
transcribed and arranged by Carol Feather Martin
Published for piano, River Music, ©1990
Carol Feather Martin first heard “The Rising Moon” as a piano solo on a Paul Winter Concert CD and realized that the work could effectively be transcribed for handbells. With the composer’s permission, she created this arrangement, which has become a favorite of Virginia Bronze. Paul Sullivan found inspiration for this beautiful song from his home on the coast of Maine: “‘The Rising Moon’ was written about the time I left my hot and stuffy office where I had just spent six frenetic hours. As I stepped outside the door, I was arrested by the sight of a huge red moon hovering just above the horizon of Blue Hill Bay. It was cradled on the spruces of a dark island and, with its silent majesty, commanded me to be still. It instantly put everything into proper perspective. The source of the melody is an old Irish folk tune, name unknown.”

11. Gifts of the Magi
arranged by Nicholas A. Hanson
Unpublished
This setting of the well-known Epiphany carol, “We Three Kings” is a programmatic piece (music that is intended to evoke images or convey the impression of events) focusing on the symbolism behind the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Although these three gifts were very expensive at the time of Jesus’ birth, their spiritual meaning is far greater. The gift of gold represents the image of Jesus Christ as King, and the setting for its verse reflects the regal aspect of an earthly king. Frankincense is a resin used in incense, and is commonly mentioned in the Bible as element of worship. In Psalm 141 we read, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee,” and the continuing presence of our prayers is reflected in this verse by an ostinato (a phrase that repeats in the same musical voice pattern) in the high bells. The final gift, myrrh, was another resin used in religious ceremonies during the time of Jesus’ life. It was used at the time of Jesus’ death as part of his burial process, and thus foreshadows the fate of the newborn king. Juxtaposed against this last verse is the Passion Chorale (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”), as a pointed musical reference to Good Friday and, ultimately, the glory of Easter.

12. Doxology of Conditor Alme Siderum
By Hart Morris
Commissioned by Virginia Bronze for the 50th Anniversary of the American Guild of Organists
World Premiere July 6, 2010
Unpublished
Dennis Edelbrock and Woodrow English, Trumpet
Rick Lee, French Horn
Scott Shelsta, Trombone
Jack Tilbury, Tuba
Doug Wallace, Timpani
John Kilkenny, Percussion
The composition is based on a ninth-century Latin hymn, included today in the Advent section of many hymnals as “Creator of the Stars and Night.” It is inspired by the final stanza, “To God the Father, God the Son/and God the Spirit, Three in One/Praise, honor, might and glory be/from age to age eternally.” The tune is first presented in a traditional and subdued chant style, then is transformed through several variations and concludes in a triumphant expression of praise.

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