Friday, October 18, 2013

Did You Order This Concert To Go?

Pre-packaged Holiday Concerts for Progressive High School Choirs

selections from Heritage Music Press

Edward Pola and George Wyle are names which you most likely won’t recognize. This duo, however, wrote a Christmas song in 1963 which has stood the test of time and become a favorite of many: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year! As a past public school teacher, and especially from the month of September through the month of December, I would often find myself disagreeing with the lyrics to this song. The most stressful time of the year always somehow felt more appropriate!

With fall and holiday concert preparation and demands, booster meetings, parent/teacher conferences, fundraisers, learning the names of two-hundred kids, and (insert your own, individualized commitments here), time can be a very valuable commodity in the fall. I came across a quote recently which read: “I’m definitely going to take a course on time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Being a good manager of time is one of the many hats worn by teachers, and my goal with is to help you become more successful in this area by providing you with “pre-packaged” concerts for choirs of varying skill sets and experience.

This particular article consists of two different concert packages for more experienced/progressive high school choirs. You can of course take the concerts “as is” or feel free to mix and match based on what would work best for your choir and, let’s be honest, for your administration (which is why you’ll see a mix of sacred and secular, multicultural options, etc.). In the end, my main goal is to take the guess work out so that “all” you need to do is prepare and serve!

Concert #1

Selection #1 / Opener
Alleluia!, by Mark Hayes
SSATB, a cappella

A stately, dramatic fanfare opens this jubilant Mark Hayes original. Captivating syncopations, a full dynamic spectrum, and a contrasting polyphonic section all fuel the excitement in this vibrant selection.  This piece would be a perfect opener if you’re looking to start your holiday concert off in a unique fashion!

Beautiful December
Selection #2
Beautiful December, by Amy F. Bernon
SATB, with piano

This gorgeous original lullaby is full of simple and beautiful images: a garden awaiting the return of spring; snow as soft as lamb's wool; a sleepy child dreaming of songs that rise on silken wings. Perfect for secular or sacred settings, it will provide a welcome moment for peaceful reflection on your winter concert programs, and would serve as the perfect contrast to the opening selection above.

Deck the Hall with Haydn
Selection #3
Deck the Hall with Haydn, by Greg Gilpin
SATB, with piano

What do Franz Joseph Haydn, Greg Gilpin, and the familiar Deck the Hall lyrics have in common? They're the ingredients that combine to create this novelty show stopper for your holiday concerts! This piece is a fun and festive option and includes the use of an optional triangle.

Glory, Hallelujah to the Newborn King
Selection #4 / Closer
Glory, Hallelujah to the Newborn King, by Ruth Morris Gray
SATB, a cappella

Pull out all of the stops with this exuberant original Christmas spiritual that will be the sure-fire hit of your concert! Verses that feature a soloist or entire section and a creative bridge that builds to a dramatic ending contribute to an exciting work that will leave the audience craving more!

Concert #2

Sing We All Noel
Selection #1 / Opener
Sing We All Noel, by Ruth Elaine Schram
SATB, with piano and optional percussion

This festive, upbeat pairing of two African folk-song favorites is a dynamite choice for filling that multicultural or creative programming slot for your Christmas or holiday concert. Optional sacred lyrics are provided, allowing this work to be used in both schools and churches. Employing a variety of percussion instruments adds to the fun, and specific suggestions are included.

Winter’s Heart
Selection #2
Winter’s Heart, by Mark Hayes
SATB, a cappella

This lush unaccompanied choral selection celebrates the winter solstice, describing the change of seasons as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. Gorgeous melodies beg to be sung with tenderness and expression. Rubato moments and plenty of opportunities to showcase your choir's blend and rich tone help to create moments that tug at your heart.

Saludo, Saludo
Selection #3
Saludo, Saludo, by Ruth Morris Gray
SATB, with piano

Singers will love performing this authentic Puerto Rican Christmas carol featuring a mixture of Spanish and English lyrics. Guys will especially enjoy the soaring saludo echoes and the hearty la la la lines. A playful piano accompaniment is enhanced by the optional percussion parts, and background is included about the Puerto Rican parranda (surprise Christmas caroling) tradition. An excellent multicultural option!

Here We Come A-Caroling
Selection #4 / Closer
Here We Come A-Caroling, by Molly Ijames
SATB, with piano, flute, and violin

All dressed up with a fresh, updated text, this energetic setting of the popular carol is delightfully infectious! Creative interplay between the flute, violin, and piano add sparkle to this selection that will be easily prepared in a minimum of rehearsal time.  Would be a spectacular way to top off any concert!

I hope you will find these concert suggestions useful, and please stay tuned for my next blog: Did You Order That Concert To Go?: Pre-packaged Holiday Concerts for Entry-Level High School Choirs.

Best wishes for success and less stress!

For more information about all of the titles mentioned in this article, visit

Mark Jauss is an Editorial Administrator/Project Manager for the Lorenz Corporation, where he collaborates with both editors and composers to ensure the quality and timeliness of the varied music products Lorenz publishes. 

Mark is a graduate of Wright State University in Dayton, OH where he received a bachelor’s degree in music education, with a concentration in voice, and a master’s degree in choral conducting. While at Wright State, Mark was twice featured as a vocal soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, taught classes on conducting, sight-singing, and piano, and was the assistant conductor of both the Men’s Chorale and Chamber Singers.

Before coming to Lorenz, Mark spent four years teaching within the public school system. He was the director of choirs at both Howard W. Blake High School for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL, and Monroe Jr./Sr. High School in Monroe, OH. Mark is also currently the director for the Kettering Children’s Choir organization. He is the director of the Concert Choir, an advanced treble choir which tours both within the state and internationally.

Mark has been the music director at his church since the age of 18, and has recently started traveling to various branches of his church throughout the country to give conducting workshops. In 2010, Mark was the music director for the church’s national youth day at Purdue University, which involved close to 300 musicians, and in 2012 he was the music director for a worship weekend sponsored by the church which involved musicians from six different states.

Mark is blessed to be the husband of Jennifer and father of Michael and to reside in the community of Kettering, OH.

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