Good Day, Sir Christemas
Carol for SATB chorus a cappella, with extensive divisionsforces: SSAATTBB Choir
published by: Peters Edition
This a cappella setting was commissioned in 2013 for the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus by Kathryn Miller, as a gift to her husband, Daniel Hanson. It marked my second collaboration with this fine ensemble, and allowed me some conscious freedom to present demanding material as a counterpoint to the exuberance of the poem. The work was duly performed in Saint Louis at Christmas in both 2013 and 2014. I am grateful to Philip Barnes, British-born conductor of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, Classicist, polymath and inspiration to many, not only for his fine performances of this music but also for suggesting its text.
Good Day, Sir Christemas! treads a middle path between completely seamless structure and a strophic form. The melodic and rhythmic material of its opening pages is never far away, but alternations of imitative polyphony and rhythmically energetic homophony blur the divisions between verses to some extent. In this sort of musical exercise a climactic ending is never in doubt, and this sends the uppermost sopranos to a stratospheric top B before a final unison ‘Good Day!’ which is almost a shout. The music is relatively diatonic in a modally-inflected way appropriate to its mediaeval text, but presents challenges in its requirement of unflagging rhythmic alertness combined with vocal agility and clear, precise intonation.
F.P., January 2015
Reviews of the CD/download release containing a performance of Good Day, Sir Christemas! :
The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus is a group of beautifully blended, very talented singers who perform under the inspired direction of Philip Barnes. Of the eleven works here, ten are SLCC commissions. Inventive and diverse, these pieces require technical ability and sensitive musicianship, and this group never falters.
***** Choir & Organ June 2016 ‘
This disc is a musical exploration, beautifully sung, inviting the listener to share the enthusiasm of the singers and the inspiration of the composers. Here are beauty and variety, both well worth pursuing.
Organists’ Review September 2016
The singing throughout the 75 minutes of this disc is outstanding.
Cross Rhythms March 2016