Searching for Jamie W. Hall - 11 results.

1. As I Lay Upon A Night
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 3'20"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Medium/Difficult
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An unaccompanied setting of a beautiful Middle English text, As I Lay Upon a Night is a meditation on the annunciation and provides a suitable alternative to the well known Annunciation Carol.

Written with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in mind, pseudo-plainsong solos and simple choral verses create an atmosphere of calm and stillness in which the listener can reflect on the very opening chapter of the story of Christ's birth.

Also a suitable introit for use on the Feast of the Annunciation on 25th of March.

As I Lay Upon A Night has been sung by, among others, the BBC Singers, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.


2. Winter
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 3'00"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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Life! oh so old,
My heart is cold,
My vision dark with sleep.
The winter's snow I long to fall,
Entomb me deep!

But still I see
Through leafless tree
Dying the sun's red light,
And still the wish burns deep within:
Let there be light!

Hush, hush! no more!
I'll close the door,
The curtain I'll draw to;
Then I'll lie down and face the wall,
And come to you.

With its meandering and ambiguous tonality, its sometimes jarring dissonance and its juxtaposition between forward movement and moments of stillness, this choral miniature for SATB choir explores melancholy themes of loneliness, loss and the coming to a close of life. Shifting harmonic sands, the promise of resolution without the fulfilment of that promise, echo the hopeful longing expressed in Reuben Thomas's powerful text.

See also To Every Thing…, the full cycle which contains Winter.


3. Spring
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 3'00"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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I wake up now
Brain fires mind—one motif—
Green shadows grow,
The child unfurling as the leaf
I want to know

Jump in puddle
Water explodes intricate,
Riotous muddle:
Profuse and gay and delicate
Mummy cuddle

Daddy not help
See in small tender kind
The new world's wealth
Spread arms, toss head, roar down the wind
Do it own self

The second instalment of an ongoing collaboration with poet and fellow singer Reuben Thomas, Jamie W. Hall's Spring paints in sound the ever-growing, never-stopping child as he discovers the world around him. Full of energy and wonder, moving from bold to timid in the blink of an eye, this miniature for SATB choir attempts to capture the spirit of a vivid text which bursts with imagery of nature, growth and new life.

See also To Every Thing…, the full cycle which contains Spring.


4. The Lord Has Arisen
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 2'30"
Ensemble: SSATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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This Easter Day setting may be thought of as a prequel to the composer's earlier Easter Carol (included in The Novello Book of Music for Lent and Easter) which imagines Mary Magdalene, having just recognised the risen Christ, running to tell the other disciples what she has seen. This piece features three distinct sections which depict the earlier dawn, Mary herself weeping by the open and empty tomb (complete with echo), and a final section which combines Mary's moment of joy at recognising Christ, with the disciples' reaction to the good news of the Resurrection. The text, as is so often the case, links resurrection with the new life of spring.

A 19th century translation of a much earlier text (14th or 16th century), it first appeared as a hymn and the final section of this setting nods in the direction of the hymn tradition, even leading — should it be appropriate and desired — into the playover of that wonderful Easter Day classic Jesus Christ is Risen Today, the final alleluias added by the composer to cement that relationship.

This piece was written for Colm Carey and the choir of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London.


5. Autumn
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 2'15"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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Root-sharp winds blow,
Fatal test each bough-shaking groan;
Once passing siren's moan,
Hums steady—low
Pain's burden now.

Ripe beauty's maze
Imprints glance, gesture, touch, belief;
While still fresh-flaming leaf
Compels the gaze,
Recalls the daze.

Slow head—hands—feet,
But steady yet are strength and skill;
Shorter the day of will
For long truth's fight,
Clear still the light.

The third setting of a four-movement collaboration with fellow-singer and poet Reuben Thomas, Autumn, like the season itself, has an unsettled quality, sometimes still and at other points blustery with a harmonic language that can perhaps be described as undecided. The shortest movement of the set, Autumn makes use of material which in Spring conjures images of new leaves and rapid growth, reappearing in far less rhythmic form representing the same leaves falling: nature in decline.

The relative brevity of the setting is a deliberate attempt to capture the typical here-today-gone-tomorrow English Autumn; its red leaves, vanilla skies and crisp, clear air giving way all too soon to the long, damp grey of early Winter.

In performance all pitches must be accurately and cleanly sung, and a tempo chosen to allow every dissonance to properly speak.

See also To Every Thing…, the full cycle which contains Autumn.


6. Summer
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 2'15"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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Blazes the day
With heavy fruit abounding arm
To make a stay
Exclusive and enclose
Of all I chose.

In joyful toil
Pursue the promise golden made
To turn the soil
Sow, shelter, nurture, feed
Desire as need.

Press on I must
Exult as flower gives way to seed
Past years' growth trust
No doubt to turn awry
Love the bright sky.

The final instalment of a set of choral seasons entitled To Every Thing... — settings of texts by Reuben Thomas — Summer combines stillness, comfort, satisfaction with a hint of melancholy: knowledge that life's summer must end and autumn's decline must arrive.

Where Spring, Autumn and Winter depict transition and change, Summer uses a simpler harmonic language and an ABA+ structure which hopes to capture the static quality of those long August days that seem like they might never end.

Except where there are rests, this miniature should be performed with a staggered breathing arrangement to avoid any breaks in what should be an almost seamless texture.

See also To Every Thing…, the full cycle which contains Summer.


7. To Every Thing...
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 10'00"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Difficult
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Poet's programme note

Seasons Family Tree began in Winter: I spotted one November afternoon on Facebook that Jamie had trouble publishing a piece, and asked him why. His tale of failing to obtain permission from the poet's estate to use the original lyrics reminded me of another choral composer's most successful work, and I asked whether he'd like me to try writing new words for the music he'd already composed. He encouraged me to have a go, and by midnight I had the words, roughed out on a bike ride to a rehearsal that bitterly cold evening. To avoid any chance of accidental plagiarism, I cast around for a second theme, and immediately thought of my grandfather, slowly sinking in dementia, having lost my grandmother to the same dreadful disease earlier that year. I tried to put his eloquently expressed feelings into the words he could no longer find.

When Jamie told me he was thinking of a series of seasons, the obvious route was to consider the other living generations of my family. Since I have no children, and as writing about myself would create an awkward asymmetry, it was natural to veer on to my brother's branch of the family tree; I wrote the remaining seasons in ascending order of age. The meter and rhyme schemes were chosen so that each season becomes the next by swapping one pair of lines.

Poetry that can be explained in prose is merely verse, but some general remarks seem in order. In each season I tried to remember or imagine what it was or would be like at each stage of life, and locate the knot of fear and hope that defines each. Summer turned out to be the hardest both for me and Jamie: somehow the sideways step to become my brother was bigger than the leaps forwards and backwards.

Jamie's deceptively simple music blends the characters and seasons along two musical axes: the four voices that compose each season, and the musical shapes that recur in varying seasonal garb. These devices, impossible in text, cause each season to echo in the others, and conversely makes each movement a miniature of the cycle. Simultaneously a wonderful privilege for and stimulus to me, it's also a brilliant illustration of the immediate power of pairing words and music, which I hope will pierce you too!

Composer's programme note

To Every Thing… is a choral cycle of poems by Reuben Thomas which capture, much like a family photo album, snapshots from the changing seasons of life's year.

In creating this cycle, I have tried to remain faithful to the colours, contours and innate rhythms of each text, using music as a vehicle for the poetry, allowing it always the space to be heard clearly and understood. As such the rhythmic and melodic material used for each of the four voices is relatively straightforward, the interest lying in how these parts interact. It is essential therefore that each part be sung with clarity and accuracy and tempi chosen to allow each passing consonance or dissonance to speak clearly.

The cycle may be performed starting at any season and proceeding in seasonal order.


8. Curiouser and Curiouser!
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 8'00"
Ensemble: children's voices piano
Grading: Medium
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(Performance here by Kings Junior Voices.)

Wonderfully inventive and characterful settings for children's choir of three poems from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

How doth the little crocodile
The Lobster Quadrille
Soup of the Evening


I don't recall when I first decided I wanted to set these fabulously colourful and wonderfully silly texts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - a book I can't quite believe is 150 years old this year! - but certainly The Mock Turtle's Song was firmly in my mind when I was asked to write a piece for Cambridge-based children's choir, King's Junior Voices.

Even though my aim was always to produce something accessible and enjoyable I also wanted to write music that would challenge young singers, something reflective of the contemporary music that is at the centre of my own musical life and above all something that, even when in only one part, is truly choral, not simply a song.

Hearing that first performance, sung so beautifully in King's College chapel, I was determined to add to the set.

Just as Lewis Carroll presents his outlandish, near-nonsense poems in the familiar form of children's nursery rhymes, so I have paired conventionally tonal melodic material with outlandish time signatures, (5/8, 7/8, and a heavily syncopated 4/4) in a parallel which I hope captures the playfulness and twinkle of Carroll's texts.

I dedicate Curiouser and Curiouser! to King's Junior Voices and to their conductor Lynette Alcantara whose encouragement has been invaluable.

I hope that you enjoy singing these songs as much as I have enjoyed writing them!


9. Sing, Oh! My love
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 6'00"
Ensemble: SATB Unaccompanied
Grading: Medium/Difficult
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Sing, Oh! My love is a pair of two traditional carol texts treated to contemporary musical settings.

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day was written for, and is dedicated to, a friend's mother - a lady with severe dementia - who was seriously ill at the time, and who, in her own words 'loves to dance'.

This setting removes the expected anacrusis word setting of the opening line and instead makes the word stress with an octave leap. This combined with fairly rapid text setting and regular use of straight crotchets against the dotted crotchet beat helps conjure breathless excitement, youthful vigour, the somewhat jaunty verses giving way to the more sweeping chorus which juxtaposes compound 6/8 with 3/4 which, along with ever decreasing phrase lengths captures a sense of barely contained joy.

The more contemplative setting of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree is marked misterioso, and it is a sense of mystery that should prevail in any performance. The 7/8 time signature is there not to add rhythmic interest but to create ambiguity - the piece should always move forwards therefore but without any feeling of pulse or of being driven. The harmony too is ambiguous, though it never leaves the realms of tonality, and it should be sung in as semplice a manner as possible to avoid overcooking the passing dissonances.

Above all the dynamic scheme should be preserved without ever the need for oversinging. The opening lines of the first and last verse may be sung as a solo if desired, as may the closing line of the piece.


10. Christmas Bells
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 2'45"
Ensemble: Flexible children SA SATB
Grading: Easy/Medium
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It wouldn't be Christmas without a ding dong or two and this new setting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Christmas Bells buys wholeheartedly into that tradition, its pealing piano figures crossing bar lines and giving a contemporary seasoning to a carol which is nevertheless singable and memorable.

Composed with children in mind it has two vocal lines which may be thought of as either two equal voices or low and high voices, though the ranges are restricted to enable just about any choir to sing it. Suggestions of SATB distributions are included but flexibility is there to redistribute depending on the forces available.

The piece is neither overtly religious nor exclusively Christian, its overriding theme being one of peace and goodwill to all men, and so it is particularly useful to choirs who wish to celebrate Christmas without too much emphasis on sacred music.


11. In the bleak midwinter
Jamie W. Hall

Duration: 4'30"
Ensemble: 2 equal voices piano
Grading: Medium
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This setting of famous verse by Christina Rossetti is based on a single simple theme which then goes through a series of variations, making it ideally suited to choirs who want a contemporary flavour in their Christmas repertoire but don't have endless learning time.

The two equal parts, which may be sung by either children or ladies, are underpinned by an atmospheric piano accompaniment which invokes the winter wind, the flurrying snow, the icy cold.

Whilst this is an entirely new treatment of the poem, the composer couldn't resist a small nod to the famous and beloved setting by Harold Darke... see if you can spot it.


This piece is available as a full score, with the piano and voice parts, and a choral score, which has no accompaniment. You will need at least one full score to perform this piece.