PROGRAM NOTES AND TRANSLATIONS
Kyrie et Gloria from “Mass for Three Voices” – William Byrd; text of Ordinary Mass
William Byrd published this Mass setting between 1593-1594 in London with no title page or date. Queen Elizabeth I had established the Protestant Church as supreme, and Byrd, along with any purchaser, would likely have been arrested for the use of a Catholic Mass. Thus, this mass setting, as well as two others, was composed in such a manner that it would be achievable outside of the bounteous, exceptionally talented musicians of the Church. Instead, the “Mass for Three Voices” was intended to be performed in private settings, hidden from the public eyes and ears. Each line was written to be simplistic and achievable by many people at the time, which gave access to other Catholics who were shunned for their beliefs.
Bozhe velykyj, yedynyj (Боже Великий Єдиний) – Mykola Lysenko (Микола Лисенко); text by Oleksandr Konysky (Олександр Кониський)
When the poem was first published in 1885, the Imperial Russian government was silencing the country by censoring the use of the Ukranian language. The text calls for peace and blessings for Ukraine as well as protection for its people, who continue to be plagued by the terror and torture of Russian military. This selection translates to “Prayer for Ukraine,” and was set to music as a type of spiritual anthem for the country. In fact, it was often performed at the close of many church services and performed by large groups during the Ukranian War for Independence (1917-1920) following the turmoil of World War I. As the Ukranian people fought to find and maintain their independence, the text by Konysky rang clearly as a cry for state and cultural freedom.
Schedryk (Щедрик)– Mykola Leontovych (Микола Леонтович)
This piece was originally composed as a welcome to the new year in Ukrainian culture, which prior to the adoption of the current calendar was around the month of April. The text resembles the “newness” or birth of light and hope for happiness and freedom. Just two years after its release, performed more than 40 times across Europe, the VChK (predecessor of the KGB in Russia) sought after composer, Mykola Leontovych, and murdered him to diminish the cultural push for Ukranian independence by the composer. This performance of “Щедрик” hopes to show support for those in Ukraine who struggle today and a reminder of all that is good and beautiful in Ukraine which will return!
Motu Puketutu – Cheryl Camm; text by Robyn Trinnick
Māori (pronounced MOH-ree) people are native to the land of New Zealand and still reside there today. British forces invaded New Zealand in 1845, and wars lasted until 1872 before treaties were finally signed by both sides to preserve New Zealand lands. These treaties practically enforced a draw between the New Zealand, including Māori people, and the British military. The treaties have not consistently been upheld by the British, who continued to industrialize the land, causing immense amounts of pollution in sacred areas of the Māori people. The island of Puketutu was one such location, which became a mining source and wastewater disposal area. Professor Jono Palmer of Auckland University, a specialist in appropriation of Māori music, graciously discussed Motu Puketutu and its meaning with the Chamber Singers, offering his native insight and interpretation of the work. Māori people are deeply, even spiritually, connected to the land and nature, and this particular piece speaks to the damage caused by the misuse of natural resources by the British.
De Luto – Ernesto Herrera; text by Raydel Perez-Gonzalez
Raydel Perez-Gonzalez, a Cuban American, is a former student of The College of Idaho who wrote this text to mourn for the people of Cuba and their struggles with the current government. He performed a voice recital in the spring of 2021, concluding with the reading of this powerful and strident poem. The text was so striking, The College of Idaho Student ACDA Chapter (American Choral Directors Association) collaborated with Raydel and fellow Cuban American, Ernesto Herrera, to set these meaningful words to music. After reading this poem, Ernesto was brought to tears, reflecting on the state of his home country. De Luto is a push towards no longer being hushed by the social corruption and deep anguish of the people of Cuba.
Even When He is Silent – Kim André Arnesen; text by anonymous
Hope. Love. Faith. Undetectable to the human eye, hand, and ear. The text for this piece is only an excerpt from a poem, written by a Jewish internment camp member under Nazi rule. This person struggled and was treated inhumanely but held hope for the sun. Love even when they did not feel it then. Had faith in God, even though they could not hear answer to their prayers. Arneson’s setting reveals the text in a powerful way, parts continuously struggle with dissonance, seeking resolution, as all humans do during times of struggle. Hope. Love. Faith.
Tshotsholoza – Jeffery Ames; traditional South African text
“Go forward! from those mountains, on this train from South Africa.” The text of this piece is a mix of Ndebele and Zulu and originates as a miner’s song from South Africa. Commonly described as the unofficial anthem of South Africa, Tshotsholoza was sung by migrants from Zimbabwe to South Africa who labored in the mines. Nelson Mandela once said he himself sang this as a prisoner, representing the quieted voices of Black communities struggling with Apartheid and racial segregation throughout history.
Grace Before Sleep – Susan LaBarr; text by Sara Teasdale
Sara Teasdale authored this poem and won the 1918 Pulitzer Prize. This simple text carries great weight as we give thanks for the time we spend together, especially as people who are able to create and listen to the beauty of music. As the poet says, "the hearth is wide and warm,” and here all are welcome to find peace and solace.