A video introduction that explains a little about the upcoming premiere of "Suite Excentrique" with Transient Canvas and my participation in the Alba Music Festival both last year and this year!
This past weekend, "Lulajże Jezuniu," my recent arrangement of this lovely Polish Christmas lullaby was performed in Sioux Center, IA with the Dordt College Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Benjamin Kornelis and twice in Minneapolis and Saint Paul with Kantorei, under the direction of Axel Theimer.
I am truly blessed to have the support of these choirs in premiering this piece!
The Dordt College Concert Choir will be performing the piece again on their Winter Tour.
Dordt College performing "Lulajże Jezuniu" on December 9, 2016 (above). Kantorei performing "Lulajże Jezuniu" on December 11, 2016 (below)
Polish Documentary about "Fili di Perle" (Strings of Pearls) - Karol Szymanowski International Composition Competition
The Karol Szymanowski International Composition Competition has recently released a version of the documentary for Katowice public television about the premiere of "Fili de Perle" (Strings of Pearls) that has English subtitles.
We are thrilled to announce that Jonathan Posthuma, a 2016 Alba Composition Program Fellow, is the first recipient of the Alba Alumni Commission Award. This newly established comission, named in honor of the late American composer, William Thomas McKinley, is awarded annually to one of the previous years' participants in the Alba Music Festival Composition Program. Mr. Posthuma will compose a new work for this years' resident ensemble, Transient Canvas, to be premiered during the 2017 Alba Music Festival.
Inspired by my trip to Poland in March, I thought about arranging a famous Polish Christmas carol for mixed chorus. The result is "Lulajże Jezuniu," a lush setting of this wonderful carol. After promoting the work a little, two choirs will be co-premiering the work this Christmas.
The Dordt College Concert Choir (my alma mater!) will present the work on Friday, December 9, 7:30 PM at the BJ Haan Auditorium in Sioux Center, IA and Kantorei (a choir I sing with in the Twin Cities) will present the work on Saturday, December 10, 7:30 PM at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Brooklyn Park and Sunday, December 11, 4:00 PM at the Saint Paul Seminary, Saint Paul.
The Dordt College Concert Choir will also feature the arrangement on its winter tour throughout the upper Midwest. Their tour program features works by several Minnesotan composer and I'm honored to be listed among them! Their performance in the Twin Cities is scheduled for January 8, 4:00 PM at Grace Evangelical Free Church / Calvin Christian High School in Fridely, MN (where I am a choir/band teacher!)
Truly blessed to have this piece featured throughout the Christmas season -- now to learn how to sing in Polish!
So thrilled to be included in the ReMix Program with VocalEssence! As a chorister, I sing with the VocalEssence Chorus and that organization has been so supportive of both my musicianship and the craft of contemporary choral music! Truly exciting to compose and premiere two original pieces for the ACDA National Festival in March!
From May 20 - May 30 I will have the pleasure of being part of the 2016 Alba Music Festival Composition Program with several other composers from around the world. Here is the full list of fellows and more information about the program.
Last winter and spring, I composed a new piece for the resident ensemble -- a quartet for Trumpet, Violin, Violoncello, and Piano called Scompiglio Melodioso "Melodious Disarray." I will have the chance to workshop the piece before the premiere, take classes with the resident faculty and musicians, and listen to world-class performances of music as part of the festival's concert program.
Also ... being in Italy for 10 days should be a nice change of pace coming off a pretty wild months of travel and premieres ... and then summer!
(Will post recordings of the premiere afterwards!)
While attending the premiere of "Fili di Perle," which received 3rd Prize in the Karol Szymanowski Composition Competition in Katowice, Poland; a film crew from the local public television station did some interviews about the piece, my process as a composer, and my experience with contemporary Polish music. The interview and selections from the rehearsals and premiere was made into a short film.
Unfortunately, the film is only in Polish, and only available to internet users in Poland.
But regardless, the video is hosted on the Programy TVP Katowice website.
Also, a recording from the premiere on March 2 is available below through soundcloud.
Many things have happened since my last post, but look for website updates, new recordings, and premiere information here!
Major Events Missed on the Blog:
Premiere of "An Isthmus Aubade" (RECORDING)
Readings of "The God of Material Things" (RECORDING)
Premiere of "Concerto Grosso No. 1" (RECORDING)
Moving to the Twin Cities
A few notes:
The majority of my recordings are available on my Soundcloud account!
As I was playing the hymn-tune "NOEL" by Arthur Sullivan, often paired with the text "God is our Refuge and Our Strength," I became somewhat concerned with Sullivan's treatment of sequential material in the last four measures. Throughout the hymn, Sullivan uses melodic sequences, beginning in the opening melody:
and then suggested at the end:
which is paired with the bass line:
But in these last four measures, the other voices do not follow the pattern of the sequence. After singing through each part, I realized that the potential of certain lines, especially the tenor seems lost. The three C's create a suspension-type pattern, which when paired with passing tones in the other voices, stresses beats 1 and 3:
This powerful combination sets up the expectation to be used again in sequence with the soprano and bass, but this never happens. Instead, the tenor line seems rather odd: (C->C->C-Bb-A, G-C-C-A) followed by more repeated C's in the last bar (C-C-C-Bb, A), which now don't imply direction, but rather filler for the harmonic progression. Furthermore, the harmonic progression uses a borrowed V/ii, which is suggested in measure two, but then alto line moves to an E, suggesting a diminished vii in first inversion.
Although the meter of the text does suggest two-part phrases (220.127.116.11 D), many of the sentences in the text do not have punctuation at this moment (e.g. "though all the mighty billows shake the mountains on the shore" [vs. 1] and "for God will hasten to her aid when trouble is at hand" [vs.2] ) The first line "God is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present aid" is a nice two-part, punctuated phrase, but if this idea is continued for every line in double meter, the whole hymn can become a bit disjointed and bland. Adding connective material, like in the last phrase would smooth out the flow of the melodies.
So, I began to rewrite. Should be easy enough to continue the tenor sequence:
The result when paired with soprano and bass does have pretty biting dissonances, m9 and M7 (tenor Bb vs. two A's in bass and soprano), but because it is a more pure sequence, the direction seems natural and the resolutions provide a certain and tug-and-pull that wasn't in the original second measure. The alto line moves to D instead of E to further suggest Gm (ii) and the third measure continues the harmonic sequence to F major in root position, not first inversion. It seemed natural to add an alto 4-3 suspension, which sets up a chain of eight-note passing tones which is echoed by the tenor.
Sullivan's original part-writing is correct and does not sound unpleasant, but to me it feels like the potential of this last phrase was lost. By further suggesting the sequential nature of the soprano and bass, giving more time to colorful harmonic progressions (V/ii --> ii), and allowing each voice to share in the passing tones and suspension more equally, this final phrase seems more complete, with more direction and balance between turbulence and resolution.
But, then the problems began. My first attempt yield parallel octaves between soprano and tenor (m.1 into m. 2) If the tenor starting note of the sequence is the root of the chord, not the third, the sequence can resolve down to the root of the next sequence level. I also considered how the alto motion, leaping from G-E in the original, can be used in both statements of the sequence. In the third version, I mainly am experimenting with a different bass line, which uses more passing tones, which allows for the final low F to be saved until the end, but this results in another parallel octave between bass and alto before measure 3.
The final measure still has some issues with parallel octaves in tenor and bass, present in all of my versions, which are disguised by passing tones. If you keep the original voicing of first inversion, one of the them is relieved (F-A), but other remains (A-C).
Green - sequential progression
Blue - passing tones / neighbor tones
Orange - suspensions
Red - part writing that concerns me
Jonathan Posthuma is a freelance composer living in Saint Paul, Minnesota.