May 10, 2022 — The Gift of Spring

Program Notes

Kyrie and Gloria from Mass in B Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881)

The Mass is a sacred liturgical form. The principal large-scale musical form of the Renaissance, it has been embraced in whole or in part by composers of all musical periods since. Some of the best-known masses include Bach’s great Mass in B minor, and the Requiem masses of Fauré and Verdi; contemporary masses have been written by Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Dale and many others.

Tonight you will hear two movements from a mass by the 19th century Belgian composer, Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens.

Also an organist and teacher, Lemmens is considered the father of modern organ technique, and credited with bringing the organ-playing tradition of J.S. Bach to France. He trained at the Paris Conservatoire, studying under the great organist Charles Widor, and won the Prix de Rome. He is said to have stunned organists with his brilliant technique. Lemmens wrote three masses. This one, arranged for men’s voices by Manfred Hößl, is rarely heard and recordings are few, so it gives SMC great pleasure to present these excerpts this evening.

You will first hear the Kyrie, the petition that opens the Mass. The Greek text translates as: Lord Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy. Following that we transition to a jubilant hymn, Gloria:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to God’s people on earth.
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you.
We thank you for your great glory, O Lord God, Lamb of God, son of the Father.

We are accompanied by Diane Bestvater on Zion’s pipe organ.

Organ Solo – Prelude in C from Eight Short Preludes and Fugues, BWV 553 J.S. Bach

Diane Bestvater, organist

Come, Thou Fount Music by John Wyeth, arr. Craig Petrie

Words by Robert Robinson

We were very taken with Craig Petrie’s fine arrangement of “Away in a Manger,” which we sang in our December 2021 concert. So it’s with delight we present yet another of this arranger’s highly expressive settings for male voices, this one of the classic hymn, “Come, Thou Fount.”

Songs of a Young Man Music by Richard Nance, poems by A.E. Housman

Two of the English poet Housman’s most famous poems are here thoughtfully set by Richard Nance. In the first poem, When I Was One-and-Twenty, a young man rues the hard experience that has altered his perspective on love over the course of a year: what he thinks and feels at age 22 have changed, proving the wisdom of his elder.

When I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas but not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies but keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty, no use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again
“The heart out of the bosom was never giv’n in vain;
Tis paid with sighs a-plenty and sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty and oh ‘tis true, ‘tis true.

Loveliest of Trees captures a moment of rapture while contemplating nature. The twenty-year-old poet laments that he has only about fifty years left to admire the sight of cherry trees in their glory.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride wearing white for Eastertide.
Now of my three-score years and ten, twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score, it only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look on things in bloom fifty springs is little room,
About the woodlands I will go to see the cherry hung with snow

The remainder of our program is comprised of what can be classified as songs of the people or “folk” songs—one Israeli, one a more recent composition by an American composer, a new composition coming from an Indigenous tradition of music-making, and two folk/rock classics. These songs are all expressions of the desire for peace, mutual respect and harmony in our world.

Bashana Haba’ah (Next Year) Music by Nurit Hirsh, arr. John Leavitt

Words by Ehud Manor

A popular 1970 Israeli Hebrew song first performed by the duo Ilan & Ilanit.

Next year, next year … we will sit on the porch and we will count the birds migrating;
we will watch the children playing tag, laughing, between the house and the fields.
You will see how good it will be.

Imagine Words and Music by John Lennon

Brodie Cuff, tenor

From John Lennon’s 1971 album of the same name, “Imagine” asks the listener to picture a world without conflict, materialism and division. Yoko Ono is said to have contributed lyrics and content to what would become the best-selling single of Lennon’s solo career.

I Dreamed of Rain Words and Music by Jan Garrett, arr. Larry Nickel

Composer Jan Garrett grew up in Colorado, taking the “natural world as [her] birthright.” During a particularly hot, dry year, with wild fires raging in the western U.S. and amidst political upheaval, she began to have dreams of rain, “the kind of luscious healing rain that comes to renew the natural world and the human soul after a long drought. The words and music for this song are a direct translation of that exhilarating feeling. We no longer have to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. We are free to forgive, release the pain, and start over again with a clean slate.”

The Gift Russell Wallace

Russell Wallace (b. 1965) is a composer, producer, and a traditional singer from the Lil’ Wat Nation. He has written music for film, video, and theatre/dance productions, and is a board member for Warriors Against Violence society.

The lyrics of The Gift, he writes, “are not words in any language but they are based on Aboriginal vocables from the western part of North America.” Wallace adds that “this song is about a community coming together to prepare a feast—to celebrate ‘the gift’ of traditions and the transmission of knowledge. A traditional song will have a certain name or title but it is the context in which it is sung that denotes the true meaning.”

We have much to celebrate as our community comes together. Tonight’s concert represents only the second time since the pandemic that we have been able to perform live, and it feels like the end of a long drought. Though we have kept singing in isolation, we have missed the blending of our voices in real time and in one space; we have missed each other. We sing “The Gift” as a special thank you to our friend, former SMC director Gary Gullickson: we celebrate his induction into the Order of Canada in 2021 for his generous contributions to music--specifically choral music and education; and we thank Gary for our fruitful past collaboration and his support of SMC through the years. To paraphrase the composer, the transmission of knowledge, the sharing traditions we hold dear—in this case especially our beloved tradition of choral singing—are things to celebrate!

Bridge Over Troubled Water Words and Music by Paul Simon, arr. and adapt. Kirby Shaw

Directed by Gary Gullickson, with Brodie Cuff, tenor

American folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released what many consider their signature song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, in 1970—the second single from their album of the same name. Both the album and the song won Grammys that year. The piano accompaniment is influenced by Gospel music.

This arrangement by Kirby Shaw has been in SMC’s repertoire since the early 2000’s. Its emphasis on the need to care for each other is timeless—and given the world’s present-day struggles, could not resonate more. Thank you to Gary and Brodie for joining us in our finale.

Diane Bestvater, Organist

Diane Bestvater is a piano and theory teacher in Saskatoon, and has been the organist and Music Director at Zion Lutheran Church since 2010. She has been the accompanist for Saskatoon’s Cecilian Singers for the past ten years. She holds an ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, a Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary and a Master of Arts in Musicology from the University of Western Ontario. She is an active member of the Saskatoon branch of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Diane continues her own musical studies through solo performing on the pipe organ for the annual Pied Pipes of Saskatoon concert series. When not practicing, Diane enjoys long walks with her dog, knitting, quilting, and making soap!

Picture of Deborah Buck

Deborah Buck, Director

Deborah’s love of choral singing was nurtured through experiences in church choirs, Fireside Singers, Aden Bowman Collegiate choirs, Saskatchewan Choral Federation’s provincial honour groups, and the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers. More recently she has sung in the Saskatoon Chamber Singers and is a long-time member of the alto section of the Canadian Chamber Choir, singing with the Juno-nominated ensemble in every Canadian province and the Northwest Territories, as well as her birth city of Chicago. Besides conducting the Saskatoon Men’s Chorus Deborah leads an SATB choir at Augustana Lutheran Church. She also accompanies the University of Saskatchewan Chorus and Greystone Singers.

Picture of Brodie Cuff

Brodie Cuff, Guest Soloist

Originally from Saskatoon, Brodie obtained his Bachelor of Music from Humber College in Toronto before getting his Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario. Upon convocation, Brodie performed on board Celebrity cruises while sailing the Caribbean and Mediterranean before settling down and starting a family. Currently, Brodie is a music teacher at Tommy Douglas Collegiate, is a husband to Shanna, a dad to Kinley and Cooper, and still enjoys performing the national anthem at Blades, Rush and Rider games.

Picture of Lynn Driedger

Lynn Driedger, Assistant Director

Since its inception in 1980, Lynn has been singing in the Chorus. His experience in teaching high school band and choral programs has allowed him to fulfill the role of assistant director with the various directors of the Chorus, as well as take on the job of full-time conducting for a few years.

He has been a member of the University Wind Ensemble, University Chorus, Greystone Singers, Saskatoon Concert Band, and the Saskatoon Brass Band. In addition to his involvement with the Men’s Chorus, Lynn is an instrumentalist and vocalist at Nutana Park Mennonite Church, leads a ukulele group at Bethany Manor, and plays tuba in the Bridge City Brass Band.

Picture of Gary Gullickson

Gary Gullickson, Guest Director

Gary Gullickson has been an active member of the provincial and Saskatoon cultural communities for the past 60 years. He is a retired music specialist, school principal, music professor and professional musician. During his long music career Gary was privileged to work with many choral ensembles, including the Saskatoon Boys Choir, Saskatoon Men’s Chorus, University Chorus and the choirs of Third Avenue and Knox United Churches. He is proud to have been the choir and band teacher at Walter Murray Collegiate for two decades, during which time he had the joy of working with over 4,000 young musicians. Music Theatre was one of Gary’s favourite activities and he enjoyed his role of music director in many community productions over the years. Gary was also active as a music festival adjudicator in numerous Alberta and Saskatchewan communities.

Picture of Gary Gullickson

Karen Reynaud, Accompanist

Karen Reynaud holds a Bachelor Degree in Piano Performance as well as a Master Degree in Chamber Music and Accompanying from the University of Saskatchewan. She has accompanied many vocalists and instrumentalists and has played for Saskatoon Boys’ Choir, University Chorus, Cecilian Singers and Saskatoon Opera. Karen is the Director of Operations for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. She is also a member of the Saskatoon Registered Music Teachers’ Association and maintains a private teaching studio. Karen continues to work as a collaborative pianist and enjoys making music with the Saskatoon Men’s Chorus.