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Jubilate Choir - I Want to Be Ready

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Recorded on June 3rd, 2008 in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, New York City William G. "Kip" Kuepper of Coupe Studios, Producer; Leszek Wojick, Engineer I. "Over My Head, I Hear Music" An entrancing, three-note melody floats on an updraft of conviction as the American Spiritual composer speaks from the roots of the nation's identity: "Over my head I hear music, there must be a God somewhere." Through music and poetry, the simplest of statements teases out profundity within experience with an ease unthinkable in prose. Composers have long understood music's power to convey and, indeed, define human experience. They often look to the chorus to do so, perhaps because the very effectiveness of the choir subsists in emotional vulnerability and mutual trust. This program, I Want To Be Ready, juxtaposes the work of 23 different composers and spans more than four centuries. Each of the seven sets reaches into one of life's mysteries and explores it from multiple perspectives. As the opening song develops, each voice expresses personal insight through a 26-part canon. The voices congregate to end the piece, and so embody the message of the concert: people of diverse backgrounds and abilities can share their personal approach to life and spirituality through song, and in doing so, they are made stronger. Life's wonders grow through relationships, and our individual worlds depend upon interaction with varied influences, including characters in our art. These characters can bring us into safe relationships with our hopes and fears, create confidants and sages. In I Want To Be Ready, John-a symbol of cheerful-hearted spirituality, strength, and justice in the African-American communities of the 19th century- excites great anticipation for a new Jerusalem. Likewise, the mysterious speaker of Alleluia, I Heard a Voice shares excitement about something larger than the individual: "Salvation, Glory, and Honor." In the piece Alleluia, I Heard a Voice, the word "Alleluia" echoes again and again, bouncing against the regulated pulse of Renaissance polyphony, and "Alleluia" in the Russian communion anthem Duh Tvoy Blagíy answers with sober reflection. This simple word occupies a wide berth in music history, and has come to define many reflections on life. It enriches at least one song in every set in the program. II. "Sorrow Is Ours to Hold" Sorrow lives within the arms of joy. As Naomi Shihab Nye explains in a poem that introduces this set, "What you carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be." So intrinsic is sorrow's connection to life that the destruction of the freedoms of two peoples separated by nearly 2,000 years speaks as if they occupied the same moment in time. The Psalmist's cry for relief from exile and slavery-"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, how can we sing a song in a strange land"-so captured the early American spirit torn by war and political upheaval that William Billings grafted the words to his music in Lamentation Over Boston. Likewise the longing found in Palestrina's motet style from Renaissance Italy (Sicut Cervus), echoes through the 20th-century American classical music of Deep River to transform the personal and social despair of American slavery. In each of the pieces we follow the tightly woven reality of experience and emotion. Pain is allowed to weigh down the music to uplift the soul: we must hold sorrow close to us to know hope's great promise. III. "Hope Perches in the Soul" Emily Dickinson tantalizes with the irresistible metaphor "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune-without the words, and never stops at all." The words of Jacob's Ladder, The Lord's Prayer, God Bless the Child, and Song of Triumph all speak profoundly of hope-and perhaps in their cases as well as Dickinson's, the tune without the words brings us closer, in some sense, to truth. Listen closely to Boyer's gospel triple-time escalation in Jacob's Ladder, where the satisfying words "Rise, shine, give God the glory," are swept into emotional rapture through music. The familiar Lord's Prayer takes on startling poignancy through upward-moving sequences in the repetition of the words "Forgive us our transgressions," as Garuta defies fearful self-centeredness in the face of the two opposing armies who seemed sure to destroy her city, her friends, and possibly herself, in 1942 Riga, Latvia. And "Alleluia" speaks as the voice of pain, laid raw and accepted reluctantly as a friend, in Song of Triumph, Grothenuis' expression of faith in life and the spirit in a song that brought the composer out of deep struggle after great loss. IV. "Happiness Floats" Life's joys often appear in strange places. They welcome us into praise for one another (Uyai Mose), the spirit (Ubi Caritas), for nature (i thank You God), special occasions (O Magnum Mysterium), and the everyday (Salmo 150). Happiness erupts from us, and if we try to contain it, moves on. We cannot speak to one another of happiness, we must speak from happiness, be with it and share it with abandon. Joy flows in many streams, all of them transporting. We extend to you the invitation to join in celebration with Uyai Mose and the call to "Come all ye people, to worship, to praise, to sing your songs together..." that will end the first half of the program. V. "Salvation Is Created in the Midst of the Earth" Life is filled with wonder, sorrow, hope, and joy. These emotions stir speech and instigate stories that reflect understanding of life, love, humanity, and God. In the Christian faith, the story of Jesus' life on earth captures the imagination of the greatest and least-practiced story tellers. The main points are familiar but no less profound: from the beginning, expressed in Ave Maria-"et verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis" ("and the word became flesh, and dwelt among us")-with it's recognition of the woman who carried divine life ("Hail Mary full of grace, blessed are you among women")-to the climactic "Jesu vamuvamba" ("Jesus, they crucified him"). As John Donne declares in the poetry of At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners, choices dwell in these stories: to Donne, the choice of repentance in contrast to the darkness of personal iniquity. And the story turns to myth in the powerful Russian communion reflection, Spaséñiye Soldélal "Salvation is created in the midst of the earth." Here relationship gives meaning to communication and physical manifestation stirs awakening through the every day. VI. "A Miracle of Birth and Glory, Death and Resurrection" From life ("Let's go down in the river to pray") to death ("When my work on earth is done, done with sin and sorrow"), and beyond ("May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest"), the buzz of the living soul hums through a musical drone and crowds imagination with overwhelming presence. Indeed, life itself sings the soul into the beyond ("weeping at the grave creates a song, Alleluia!"). The music communicates two portraits of humanity's real need for the afterlife: the humble, Hear My Prayer ("Just to know I'm bound for glory and to hear you say 'Well done'") and the glorious ("Come, enjoy rewards and crowns") in Song for Athene. VII. "In My Soul There Is a Temple" From emotion to storied communication, composers have translated experience to define their own purpose. When purpose defines life, the very moments of toil ring with delight. Without it, emotion refuses to speak and stories lose their meaning. Spiritual composers understood this and even under the cloak of slavery sought examples to muster purpose. "Did you ever see such a sight before? Jesus preaching to the poor" appears in many spirituals. Unfettered by a need to connect plot points, the words in Daniel Saw the Stone go straight to the heart of being-to find place. Daniel interprets dreams, Jesus helps the lowly and sets the captive free. Even in places where purpose seems hopeless, in the midst of war (Alleluia, written in 1941) or following the tragic loss of loved ones (Precious Lord), our great works of art invite us to a table of strength that rests, untethered from life's core, on the God who sings from somewhere over our heads. -David Harris Jubilate! Sacred Singers The curtain opens on a beautiful spring evening in 2002, in Boulder, Colorado, where a few singers sit in the small restaurant of an historic landmark hotel. We had just finished a rehearsal for an upcoming concert at a local church. The tenure of the interim director was coming to an end, but we recognized the strong desire to continue singing together with him and to bring quality choral music to a wider community. Could we pull off a volunteer community choir devoted to sacred music? Where would we sing? Who would want to hear us? What would we call ourselves? A few phone calls, a lot of prayers, and several meetings later-and Jubilate! Sacred Singers was born. Someone volunteered to call potential members, another explored a place to rehearse, another created a list of possible venues, another put her creative skills toward selecting outfits, a resident lawyer formed the non-profit organization, members agreed to pledge to pay the director's salary, all agreed that we would sing for whomever wanted to hear us, at no charge-God had blessed us with the gift of song and we would give that gift to the Boulder community and beyond. Our mission was to "Share God's word and glorify God through music"; our vision, to "Sing for Joy!" Thirty volunteer singers attended the first rehearsal. All rehearsals and performances would be a cappella; singers would stand generally in quartets-there would be no separation by sections; outside rehearsal preparation was a must as there was to be no rehearsal accompanist. The excitement hummed, sometimes because of what we had accomplished, other times because of the challenges ahead, but certainly because God had led us with encouragement and blessed our ministry. Since the first rehearsal on August 1, 2002, and the first "concert" at the Boulder Homeless Shelter a few weeks later, Jubilate has performed approximately 325 times; toured the Northwest, Southeast, and Northeast; sung in such historic places as The Old North Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Peachtree Presbyterian Church, the Boothbay Harbor Opera House, Macky Auditorium, the historic Stanley Hotel, and the Boulder Chautauqua Auditorium; recorded three albums; presented benefit concerts for such entities as the Boulder Chautauqua Association, Dushanbe Sister Cities, Make A Difference, Educate!, and Mozart's Rolling Requiem in remembrance of those who died on 9/11/01; and provided quality a cappella choral music to audiences from 10 to 40,000. Jubilate has sung in churches large and small, retirement and nursing homes, baseball stadiums, Independence Day celebrations, weddings, Easter services, Christmas programs, and for dying patients in hospice care. We have led sing-alongs, brought communities together through large-scale choral festivals, and joined with other ensembles to celebrate the lives of members past. Every singing experience is unique, and some create an impact that touches the heart in a special way. During our performance of Shenandoah for a packed house at a benefit concert at Boulder's renowned Chautauqua Auditorium, nature joined the choir as the heavens opened and spilled a tumult of rain that was later joined by a symphonic outburst of thunder just in time for the climax of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A few months later, during a concert for a handful of retirees at an assisted-living facility, a woman with Alzheimer's was moved to position her walker so as to join the choir and sing along in the front row, with an awareness that she had not portrayed in months. Artistic Director David Harris is the inspiration and impetus for Jubilate. His charismatic and deeply emotional style of directing inspires the choir and listener to a deeper appreciation of the music. His composition and editing prowess reveals a vast understanding and deep appreciation for all choral works. The hallmark of Jubilate is it's diverse repertoire, currently consisting of more than 200 pieces, ranging from Renaissance polyphony to American popular music. Not only are singers expected to grapple with vastly different musical styles and rhythmic variations, but through exploration of the text and history of the music, they also convey to listeners a sense of the import of the piece. Without the assistance of accompaniment, singers in an a cappella environment must use voice and visual presentation as the sole means for expression. There is a connection between singer and listener that is unique to the a cappella experience. Ten months after the first rehearsal, Jubilate spent a marathon ten-hour session recording it's first CD. Sing With Joy! Is a compilation of the first 15 pieces the choir learned. Two years later, Jubilate recorded We As Advent People in Boulder's Immersive Studios, bringing the challenge of a close and highly sensitive and accurate room to bear on the presentation of a wide range of music celebrating the birth of Christ. In 2007 the choir, stirred by it's five-year-old fascination with American spirituals, produced it's first live recording, Let It Shine. All three CDs evidence divine intervention and represent the combined effort of thousands of hours, anxiety, passion and love for music and for one another. Every week of singing together prompts the members of Jubilate to count the blessings of their voices, their Maker, and their time in fellowship with one another. Whether in a 60-seat church or a major concert hall, Jubilate tries to bring the hope of life with music from deep within their souls to join with others in the experience of song. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, in recognition and celebration of the six-year-old mission of Jubilate, the concert in Carnegie Hall became a reality. Fifty-two members of the choir presented I Want To Be Ready as a gift to the New York community, a tribute to family and friends and supporters of the choir, and a celebration of the spirit of love and commitment that "singing for joy" has provided. Jubilate is greatly privileged to have shared this celebration with New York City's Coalition Against Hunger, whose daily work on behalf of individuals searching for the promise of a better life inspires the work we do to motivate others to share their resources with those who strive for betterment. -Margaret Brubaker David Harris, B.S.E., M.M., D.M.A., has worked with choral and instrumental groups for more than 15 years, and with ensembles of all ages and ability levels including religious, community, collegiate, high school, youth, and professional vocal and instrumental ensembles. He is artistic director, a founding member and composer for Jubilate. The talent, commitment, and familial devotion of the singers in Jubilate has been a major source of inspiration and drive during his six years as director. David is also an active composer and arranger. He writes primarily for choral ensembles, both a cappella and those using accompaniment of brass ensemble, string ensemble, piano, organ, and percussion. Over the past six years as composer and arranger for Jubilate, David has performed and recorded a number of pieces. In addition to performing every week with Jubilate, David often serves as a clinician and fulfills composition commissions throughout the year. He co-authored the book In The Good Old Summer Time with Thomas Riis in 2006. David holds degrees from the Universities of Alabama, Oklahoma, and Colorado. He received the Marinus Smith Recognition Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003 from the University of Colorado Parents Association for his work with the CU Collegiate Chorale.

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Jubilate Choir - I Want to Be Ready.

1) Over My Head
2) I Want to Be Ready
3) Alleluia I Heard a Voice
4) Kindness
5) Duh Tvoy Blagiy
6) Lamentation Over Boston
7) Deep River
8) Sicut Cervus
9) Jacob's Ladder
10) The Lord's Prayer
11) God Bless the Child
12) Song of Triumph
13) So Much Happiness
14) O Magnum Mysterium
15) I Thank You God/Ubi Caritas
16) Salmo 150
17) Uyai Mose
18) Vamuvamba
19) At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners
20) Ave Maria
21) Spaseniye Soldelal
22) I Am a Little Church
23) Down in the River to Pray
24) Hear My Prayer
25) Song for Athene
26) In My Soul
27) Daniel Saw the Stone
28) Alleluia
29) Precious Lord
30) My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord
31) Shenandoah
32) Ain't Got Time to Die

I Want to Be Ready
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I Want to Be Ready | Jubilate Choir