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Director's Notes

Deck the Hall and a bit of history!

Last Friday, I was asked to guest lecture in a class on Baroque and Classical music. Specifically, my charge was to talk about the vocal music of Franz Joseph Haydn. That, of course, meant spending a fair amount of time on pieces like The Creation (an amazing work!). But along the way, you know what happened? It happens to just about any one who is preparing to teach something. I learned a few things myself! And here is one of the fun surprises!

Seems that Herr Haydn and some of his students wrote 400 or so pieces based on Welsh and Scottish texts! Imagine that! A man whose native tongue was German (and who, according to reports, wasn't all that great at his English), writing music to Welsh and Scottish texts! Well, here's the fun part: One of those settings is for the Welsh text Nos galans. Now, my guess is that, like me, you had never heard that title before. It's a song about New Year's, written about 1873 by John Ceiriog Hughes. And if you listen to it, you'll immediately hear that it is the tune we know as Deck the Hall. And complete with those fa-la-la's we all love to sing! The words we know enjoy at Christmas were put to this tune around 1881.

I don't know about you, but that just makes Deck the Hall a little more interesting to sing this Christmas! Oh and by the way....that's just what the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale will do in our Christmas concerts Starry Night and Candlelight! And I think you'll like this arrangment by John Miller for choir and four-hand piano. Come check it out! Fa-la-la!

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