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"The choral music of David Brunner resonates with imagination, lyricism and vitality.  He is America's next Ned Rorem."

Doreen Rao
Director of Choral Programmes
University of Toronto 

MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
Boosey & Hawkes 48019783 (2008)
 
Voicing: SSA chorus with violin and piano
Text:  Adger M. Pace (1882-1959)
Composer: R. Fisher Boyce
Duration: c. 3'


I’ve wanted to arrange this little Christmas song for the longest time, as I love its straightforward simplicity and country roots. It has been recorded by everyone from Chanticleer to the Judds (whose recording I particularly like!). This arrangement gives homage to the pure harmonies of the folk and gospel traditions and the rural flavor of the violin (or do we call it a fiddle?). It moves in an easy tempo, has an uncluttered texture, and a countermelody that I found myself harmonizing each time I sang along with the melody. I hope I’ve captured some of its charm.

O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, Shine upon us until the glory dawns.
Give us a lamp to light the way Unto the land of perfect day.
O Beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on.

Chauntecleere
Boosey & Hawkes 48019725 (2008)

Voicing: 2-part treble chorus with tambourine and finger cymbals and piano
Text: William Austin (1587-1634)
Duration: c. 2’20”

There's something wonderful about William Austin's bold words of Chauntecleere clapping his wings and trumpeting the dawn.  This short poem has an urgency for us to awaken and see the wonder, hear the joy that's brought by the rising of the Sunne.  Angular melodies suggest the fanfare calls and asymmetrical rhythmic and percussion propel the music forward.  Sing with strength and authority.  "Wake and heare!"

The text cries out:

All this Night, shrill Chauntecleere (Days proclaiming Trumpeter) Claps his wings, and lowdly Cryes, (Mortals, Mortals) wake and rise. See a wonder Heaven is under, From the Earth, is risen a Sunne, Shines all Night, though Day be done.

Wake (oh Earth), wake (everything)! Wake, and heare the joy, I bring. Wake, and joy; for, all this Night, Heaven, and every twinckling Light… Angels, Powers, and all that bee, Wake; and joy, this Sunne to See
.”

Christmastide
Boosey & Hawkes 48004847 (2000)
 
Voicing: 2-part treble chorus with piano
Text: Janet Lewis (1899-1998)
Duration: c. 3'

The focus of this poetic text is on the mother, and the special feelings of mothers worldwide. It is a simple lullaby, but with a profound sense of awe.

Down in Yon Forest
Shawnee Press A-1707 (1983) (P.O.P.)
 
Voicing: Traditional English Carol
Text: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Duration: c. 2'15'
Recording: University of Illinois Graduate Choral, Harold Decker, conductor.

The Friendly Beasts
Mark Foster Music Y50507 (2001)
 
Voicing: SSA chorus with piano
Text: Traditional carol
Duration: c. 1'54"
First Performance:  The Orlando Children's Chorus, Carolyn Minear, conductor,
     Orlando, Florida, December 12, 1998

This arrangement uses a rhythmically interesting calypso feel to bring a fresh perspective to this familiar carol tune and charming text.  Appropriate for treble voices of all ages.  The piano accompaniment is supportive of the voices.  Uses optional Latin percussion.

In the Bleak Midwinter
Boosey & Hawkes (TBA)
 
Voicing: SATB chorus with piano or guitar
Text: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Duration: c. 3'
First Performance:  Gloria Musicae, David L. Brunner, conductor, Sarasota, Florida

This familiar carol, with its less familiar tune, consists of three verses of increasing complexity, for mixed chorus with guitar or piano.  The interest lies in the harmonic treatment of each verse and the independence of the delicate accompaniment -- a constant filigree on notes of the supporting harmony.  It is a gentle and expressive setting of a well-known Christmas carol, appropriate in range and difficulty for both high school and church choirs.

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree
TBA

Voicing:  SATB chorus with piano
Text: Anonymous, 18th century
Duration: c. 3'25"
First Performance:  University of Central Florida Chamber Singers, David L. Brunner, conductor, St. James Cathedral, Orlando, FL, December 3, 2015 

Never a Child as He
Boosey & Hawkes 48004588 (1997)
 
Voicing: unison chorus with piano
Text and melody:  James Niblock
Duration: c.1'50"
First Performance:  Gloria Musicae Young People's Choir, David L. Brunner, conductor,
     Sarasota, Florida, December 1991

Never a Child as He is an arrangement for unison voices over a gently undulating piano accompaniment.  Each verse of the modal melody is set over a differing accompanying texture.  The innocence of the text coupled with the simple, folk-like character of the melody results in a charming lullaby, appropriate for children or adult voices in unison.

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Boosey & Hawkes 48004883 (2001)
For my dear niece,Kendal, her mother and grandmother, with love at Christmas

Voicing: SA chorus with piano
Text:  Phillip Brooks (1835-1893)
Duration: c. 3'50"

What a beautiful melody!  The traditional text is enhanced by flowing melodic lines, warm harmonies, and a gently rhythmic accompaniment that aptly depicts the glow and tenderness of Christmas.

J. W. Pepper & Son, Inc.

An expansive and charming new melody, unfolding through a series of modulations, brings these familiar words to life.  This is sure to be a new Christmas favorite!

On Christmas Morn
Boosey & Hawkes 48004712 (1998)

For the Children's Aid Society Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Nunez, director

Voicing: unison chorus with piano
Text:  Ruth Sawyer (1880-1970)(adapted from an old Spanish carol)
Duration: c. 3'
First Performance:  Children's Aid Society  Chorus, Francisco Nunez, conductor,
     St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York, December 19, 1996

The words of this old Spanish carol tell of the scene around the manger in Bethlehem, an assembly of gentle creatures and many children of all backgrounds.  An expressive and especially lovely new Christmas carol.

Shall I Silent Be
Boosey & Hawkes HL 48022757 (2013)

Commissioned by the Mississippi College Singers on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Festival of Lights at Mississippi College in honor of Dr. James Richard Joiner, who began the cherished Festival tradition in 1985

Voicing: SATB divisi chorus with piano and orchestral bells
Text:  George Herbert (1593-1633)
Duration: c. 3'22"
First Performance:  Mississippi College Singers, James M. Meaders, conductor, at the 2010 Festival of Lights, Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi, December 2-4, 2010.

We were looking for a composer to set a treasured poem with graceful melodies, textual sensitivity, and vibrant harmonic language. We found that person in David Brunner. David graciously worked with us to create a setting that immediately captured the singers' imaginations and inspired their performances. Key relationships, accompanying lines, and choral parts are masterfully interwoven to communicate the beauty and depth of George Herbert's metaphysical text. 

                                                                                                                        James M. Meaders
                                                                                         Director, Mississippi College Singers

In 1985 Dr. James Richard Joiner began the tradition of the Festival of Lights at Mississippi College.  In 2010 Dr. James M. Meaders wished to honor him on the 25th anniversary of this tradition.  Shall I Silent Be is the result of this special commemoration.  George Herbert's text from the poem Christmas, also used in Vaughan Williams' Hodie, has a pastoral quality (flocks, shepherds, pastures, streams) and a personal association ("My soul's a shepherd too"), the concluding stanza culminating in strong and joyful conviction ("Then we will sing, and shine all our own day...").  Lyrical solo phrases, homophonic and animated passages all serve to illuminate the text and there are many tempo related opportunities for expressive singing.

The Mississippi College Singers premiere occurred December 2-4, 2010 in Provine Chapel on the Mississippi College campus, under the direction of James Meaders.  Both the composer and honoree were present.

The Shepherd's Carol
Boosey & Hawkes 48018988 (2005)

Voicing: Unison chorus with piano
Text:  Anonymous
Duration: c. 3'

The sentiment of this anonymous text is one of simple wonderment.  This night was different than others:  the stillness of the air, a lovely silence, the brightness of the star, a voice from the sky.  Respect for the Lady is brought by hardworking shepherds, who offer themselves in homage to her son.

Sir Christemas
Boosey & Hawkes 48019826 (2008)
For the Children's Chorus of Washington, Joan Gregoryk, Founder and Artistic Director

Voicing: SSA/SSA choirs, organ, trumpet I and II, horn, trombone, tuba, timpani, triangle
     and orchestra bells.  Full score and parts available for purchase from the
     publisher #48019827.
Text:  Anonymous c. 1500
Duration: c. 3'51"
First Performance:  The Children's Chorus of Washington, Joan Gregoryk, conductor,
     Washington D. C., December 15-16, 2007

Our Holiday Concert traditionally includes organ, brass quintet and percussion, and for the 2007 concert we wanted to feature a new work that combined those forces with two or more of the four CCW ensembles.  David chose the poem Sir Christemas and wrote a celebratory and joyful piece with resounding bells, organ and brass interludes, and sections for unison, two and three part chorus.  It begins with a triumphant "Nowell" and ends with a spirited "Welcome" sung by the tutti choruses.  The more contemplative middle section featured the youngest singers proclaiming in the purity of their unison voices:  "Christ is now born of a pure maid; in an ox-stall he is laid."  David has written a stirring piece that will become a standard in the repertoire for treble voices and brass quintet.

Joan Gregoryk
Founder and Artistic Director
Children's Chorus of Washington

The opportunity to write something for treble chorus and brass for the Christmas season came at the invitation of Joan Gregoryk, Artistic Director of the Children's Chorus of Washington, whom I have been delighted to hear on a number of occasions.  What has resulted is a fanfare of welcome for the season.

The festive and cheerful nature of the anonymous Renaissance text Sir Christemas, in English and French, was the perfect impetus.  It first appears in a manuscript of English and Latin songs, dating probably from Edward IV to the early years of Henry VIII.  An early appearance as a carol is attributed to Richard Smart, rector of Plymtree, Devon, from 1435-1477.

The chorus alternately sings in unison, three parts and antiphonal double choir.  Brass, organ and percussion combine to bring color and brilliance to the texture, and there is, at times, a vaguely Medieval feel to the music, characterized by the Lydian modality (raised 4th), open sonorities, angular rhythms and the quotation of the Puer Nobis theme.  the singing should be bold and joyful.  Welcome Sir Christemas!

Still, Still, Still
Boosey & Hawkes 48004509 (1995)

Voicing: SATB chorus with piano
Text:  Traditional Austrian carol
Duration: c. 3'
First Performance:  Gloria Musicae, David L. Brunner, conductor, Sarasota, Florida,
     December 1992

The piano accompaniment provides a colorful harmonic underlay and feeling of momentum in this sensitive setting of the familiar Austrian carol.  The rich, four-part choral texture is especially noticeable in a highly effective a cappella section.

J. W. Pepper & Son, Inc. 

Welcome All Wonders
Boosey & Hawkes  48019534 (2007)

Voicing: SA chorus with piano
Text:  Thomas Traherne (1637-1674)
Duration: c. 2'20"

There's something magical about these gentle words by Thomas Traherne.  There is a wonderful sense of the non-duality of all things.  In this moment eternity and the present, the seasons, day and night, heaven and earth, God and man become one.  The strength and vulnerability of the "great little one" are also one and link our experience of heaven and earth. 

One can sing these words as a lullaby, and can find additional meaning as we open ourselves to and welcome the wonder of this moment and the oneness of all things.

There's but one short verse of text, set simply, with a lyrical grace and expressive melody.  Truly, one of my favorites.

"Welcome all wonders in one sight.  Eternity shut in a span.  Summer in winter, day in night; Heav'n in earth and God in man.  Great little one, whose all embracing birth Lifts earth to heav'n, stoops heav'n to earth."