MARCH 16, 2019

Written by Paul and Roxanne Curtis

 Kust Tunnen Kodu (How Can I Recognize My Home)- Veljo Tormis (1930 – 2017)

The Estonian folk music composed by Veljo Tormis was most certainly shaped by the experiences of his youth, being raised by a music-loving father- a farmer, amateur violinist, and conductor who became the parish clerk and choir/schoolmaster.  Based on an ancient rune song, a tradition dating to the Middle Ages, “Kust Tunnen Kodu” tells of a long journey that leads the listener homeward. Note the characteristic style of rune song, which utilizes alliteration, long lists, and lyrics, suggesting a hidden meaning beyond the literal. Tormis believed that singing style should be influenced by folk tradition.  The style of singing should be most important and as close as possible to that of the original folk singers. Expressive performance, characteristic of Western culture and organically foreign to the runic song, should be avoided. One should instead strive for a 'magical' impression achieved through embracing the mundane. “This can be fostered by singing while sitting down and wearing everyday clothing."

Translation by Kristin Kuutma:

neiuksed noorukesed dear girls dear maidens

kus me lähme vastu ööda where shall we go before the night sets in

vastu ööda vastu põhja before the night towards the north

vastu helgasta ehada towards the shining twilight

vastu koitu keerulista towards the brightness of dawn

meie kodu kauge’ella our home is far away

viisi verstada vaheta many miles from here

kuusi kiuvada jõgeda with six dry rivers

seitse soda sitke’eda seven sloppy swamps

kaheksa kalamereda eight seas of fish

üheksa hüva ojada nine beautiful brooks

kümme külma allikada ten cold springs in between

meie meel teeb teele minna we would like to set out on the road

teele minna maale saada set out on the road and begin to go

osata oma koduje to go towards home

märgata oma majaje to find our own house

kust ma tunnen oma kodu how can I recognize my home

millest märkan oma maja how can I find my house

küla kümmene seastra among ten others in the village

talu seitseme taganta behind seven strange farms

meil on kuu korstenalla we have the moon on the roof

meil on agu akenassa we have the dawn on the window

päeva lävepaku päällä the sun on the door

meil on kojas kullasseppa we have a goldsmith in the house

tares yaalrite taguja a silversmith on the farm

saunas sangavitsutaja a carpenter in the sauna

kojast tõuseb kulda suitsu a golden smoke rises from the chimney

tareharjast haljast suitsu a silvery smoke rises from our farm

saunast sangavitsa suitsu an alder smoke rises from the sauna

sest ma tunnen oma kodu that’s how I recognize my home

sellast märkan oma maja that’s how I find my house

küla kümmene seastra among ten others in the village

talu seitseme taganta behind seven strange farms

Lorca Suite, Op. 72: III. La luna asoma (The Looming Moon), Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928 -2016)

Rautavaara is one of the most renowned and frequently performed of Finnish composers.  He studied musicology at Helsinki University and composition at the Sibelius Academy. Jean Sibelius selected Rautavaara for a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in New York where he studied with Vincent Persichetti and spent his summers taking part in courses at Tanglewood taught by Roger Sessions and Aaron Copeland.  Composed in 1973, “The Lorca Suite” was inspired by a group of four surrealistic poems written by Federico Garcia Lorca. Rautavaara uses symmetrical scales (alternating whole and half steps) growing out of a sustained E-natural to evoke the moon’s ascent. Focusing on light rather than darkness, Lorca suggests that the moon’s light reveals what we do not wish to see. The text refers to an Andalusian legend that eating oranges under a full moon presages death. Darkness is not always a bad thing.


Cuando sale la luna When the moon rises,
se pierden las campanas bells fade
y aparecen las sendas impenetrables. and impenetrable paths appear.

Cuando sale la luna, When the moon rises,

el mar cubre la tierra the ocean covers the earth

y el corazón se siente isla and the heart feels

en el infinito. as an island in the infinite.

Nadie come naranjas bajo la luna llena. No one eats oranges under the full moon.

Es preciso comer fruta verde y helada. One must eat green fruit and ice.

Cuando sale la luna When the moon rises
de cien rostros iguales, with his hundred identical faces,
la moneda de plata solloza en el bolsillo. the silver coin within his pocket weeps.

Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul 22 - Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962)

Taaveti laulud- Onnis on inimene - Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962)

Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul 141- Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962)

Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul 121 - Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962)

Cyrillus Kreek is recognized as one of the most important composers of  20th centrury Estonian choral music.  He was an avid collector of native folksongs, using them in his own music to create a tradition of large scale choral writing with a uniquely Estonian sound.  His collection included approximately 1300 songs which he recorded on wax rolls with the assistance of an early phonograph. Kreek’s music was basically outlawed after WW2 for reasons of politics and ideology, but it has experienced a rebirth since the late 1980’s.  These four settings of the Biblical Psalms of David demonstrate the exploratory nature of Kreek’s music. The composer wished to convey his fervent religious beliefs without compromising the folksongs, thus he choose to set the Psalms in his native Estonian language.  The Psalms combine the homophonic style of Eastern European sacred music with unusual melodies reflective of feelings for his homeland. His compositional approach stems from his desire to reflect the natural qualities of the human voice.

“Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul 22”  Text and Translation:

Ma Jumal! Jumal!  Mikspärst oled sa mind maha Jätnud?

Mu Jumal!  Päveval hũũan mina, oga sa ei vasta!

Ja öösegi ei olemina mitte vait…

Kõik kes mind näevad hirvitad mind:

Nemad ajavad suu ammuli, ja vangutavad pead.

Palju vairsa on mu ümber tulnud,

Paasani sõnnid on mu ümber päranud.

Mu rammu on kui potitürk ära kuivanud,

Ja minu keel on mu suu lae küljes kinni, Ja sa

paned mind surma põrun.

Aga sina Jehoova, Jehoova, mu jumal, Päästa mu

hing, Jehoova, mu jumal,

Ära ole mitte kaugel, päästa mu hing!

Päästa mu hing, Jehoova, mu jumal,

ära ole mitte kaugel, päästa mu hing mis üksikon.

My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou

dost not answer.

In the night I cry but get no respite.

All who see me jeer at me,

make mouths at me and wag their heads.

A heard of bulls surrounds me,

great bulls of Bashan beset me.

My mouth is dry as potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaw.

I am laid low in the dust of death.

But do not remain so far away, o Lord;

O, my help, hasten to my aid.

Save me from the mouth of the lion!

from the horns of the wild oxen

you have rescued me.

Psalm 22:1a,2,7,12,15,19, 20

Taaveti laulud- Onnis on inimene” Text and Translation:

Õnnis on inimene,

Kes ei käi õelate nõu järele. Halleluuja!

Sest Issand tunneb õigete teed,

Aga õelate tee läheb hukka.

Teenige Issandat kartusega

Ja olge rõõmsad värisemisega.

Väga õndsad on kõik, kes Tema juuurde kipauvad.

Tõuse üles, Issand, päästa mind, mu Jumal.

Au olgu Isale, Pojale ja Pühale Vaimule,

Nüüd ja igavest, Aamen.

Happy is the man
who does not take the wicked for his guide.  Alleluja!

The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.
Worship the Lord with reverence,

tremble, and kiss the king.
Blessed are all who find refuge in Him.
Rise up, Lord, save me, O my God!
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now and forever. Amen.
Psalm 1:1, 6; Psalm 2:11a; Psalm 3:7

“Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul 141” Text and Translation:

Issand, ma hüüan Su poole, kuule mind!

Kuule mu palve häält, kui ma Su poole hüüan.

Olgu mu palve kui suitsetamise rohi Su palge ees,

mu käte ülestõstmine kui õhtune ohver.

Kuule Sa mind, oh Issand!

O Lord, I call to thee, come quickly to my aid;

Listen to my cry, when I call to Thee.

Let my prayer be like incense duly set forth before thee;

and my raising hands like the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 141:1,2,1b

“Taaveti laulud- Taaveti laul” 121 Text and Translation:

Päeval ei pea päikene sind vaevama,

Ega öösel kuu.

Ma tõstan oma silmad üles mägede poole,

Kust minu abi tuleb.

Mu abi tuleb Jehoova käest,

Kes kõik on teinud, kõik taeva, maa on teinud.

Jehoova on, kes hoiab, Sind,

Jehoova on su vari, sinu paremal käel.

Päeval ei pea päikene sind vaevama,

Ega öösel kuu.

The sun will not strike you by day

nor the moon by night.

If I lift my eyes to the hills-from where will

My help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 6, 1, 2, 5

That Lonesome Road - James Taylor (b. 1948) and Don Grolnick (1947 – 1996), Arr.  Simon Carrington (b. 1942)

Written by singer-songwriter-guitarist James Taylor and composer-pianist Don Grolnick, “That Lonesome Road” is a reflective ballad considered to be a reaction to Taylor’s impending divorce from Carly Simon.  It first appeared on his 10th studio album Dad Loves His Work in 1981 and Taylor sang it at the burial of his good friend John Belushi on Martha’s Vineyard.   The adaptation performed this evening was arranged by co-founder of The King’s Singers, Simon Carrington, who is a Yale University professor emeritus and former Yale Schola Cantorum director.  Simon additionally served as director of choral activities at New England Conservatory and the University of Kansas.

Hiding Your Smile (Song for Winter) -  Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson

This introspective selection is a veiled love letter to the coldest season of the year and reflects a desire for change in one’s personal situation.  The sound of the wind is used as a compositional technique where pitch, rhythm, and other dynamic musical elements are initiated by the vocalists. Unlike visual effects that are experienced outside the body at a removal from self, these environmental sounds and melodies create a personal and sensual aural experience that penetrates the inner body and gets into the listener’s head.

Horizons - Peter Louis van Dijk (b. 1953)

This piece was originally written for The King's Singers’ 1995 South African tour by Netherlands-born composer Peter Louis van Dijk who emigrated to South Africa with his family at the age of nine. It was inspired by a San (Bushman) cave painting in the Western Cape region dating back to the 1700s, depicting a ship that brought Europeans, whom the Bushman viewed as “gods,” but who would come to drive the San people in South Africa to near-extinction through both slaughter and the introduction of new diseases. Effectively implementing non-sung vocal sounds and body percussion, the work has a haunting, subdued quality that powerfully reflects the work’s ultimate tragic story.

Gjendines Bådnlåt- arr. Gunnar Eriksson   (b. 1936)

“Gjendines Bådnlåt” is a traditional Norwegian lullaby.  The “Gjendine” of the title refers to Kaia Gjendine Slålien (1871-1972), a herd girl who met Edvard Grieg and Dutch composer Julius Röntgen while they were on a mountain holiday in 1891.  On a light summer evening, she and two other herd girls sang folk songs for the men in their hut. At first too shy to sing for Grieg, he suggested she stand behind a door, with him on the other side. Grieg later adapted many of these songs he heard in his piano compositions. This arrangement was created by Gunnar Erikson in 1993 at the request from Oslo Kammarkör and conductor Grete Pederson. In Eriksonn’s words “I dressed my arrangement of this Scandinavian jewel with a bit of Cuban touch, creating a new perspective on the song.”


Bånet legges i vuggen ned The child is placed in the crib

somtid gråte, somtid le Sometimes smiling, sometimes crying

sove nå sove nå, I Jesu namn Sleep now, sleep now, in the name of Jesus

Jesus bevare bånet Jesus keep the child safe

Min mor ho tok meg på sitt fang My mother took me in her arms

dansa med meg fram og tilbake danced with me back and forth

Danse så med de små, danse så Dance with the little ones, dance

så skal borna danse So shall they dance

Blackbird – Paul McCartney (b. 1942) and John Lennon (1940-1980) , arr. Daryl Runswick (b. 1946)

Although “Blackbird” is credited to both John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles, it is the genius of Paul that shines through in this 1968 White Album release.  With a melody based on J.S. Bach’s Bourrée in e minor, McCartney’s guitar accompaniment employed a fingerpicking style taught to him by the folksinger Donovan. The musical intimacy created by this technique was reinforced with gentle percussion provided by the miked-up tapping of McCartney’s feet during the recording.  The lyrics to “Blackbird” have elicited various interpretations. McCartney himself claimed the piece to be a song of support for the African-American community during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, specifically the Little Rock Nine, a group of black students attending a newly integrated school under military protection.  In Daryl Runswick’s arrangement, some voices are used to imitate McCartney’s finger picking of the guitar, while others weave melodic lines throughout the piece.

Bruremarsj fra Valsøyfjord  - Arr. Grete Pederson & Henning Sommerro (b. 1952)

In its true authentic form, folk music is found in the form of Gebrauchsmusik or utility music, which serves a particular function for the participants whether they be performers or listeners. Familiar examples include the common lullaby to help calm a child to sleep, herding calls to gather grazing cattle, songs of mourning to express grief, and dances of celebration meant to rouse a crowd. Religious folk tunes hold an important place in Norwegian spiritual life. The texts emphasize the communion of the individual with God, and were often sung in private. Even when the hymns formed part of a church service, they were sung according to individual inclination, with idiosyncrasies in ornamentation and intonation, and with rhythmic freedom. “Bruremarsj fra Valsøyfjord” is a setting of a Norwegian wedding march arranged to help us realize the joy associated with the joining of two lives with vocals that cut through to remind us of the solemn sacred nature of the event.

Burden- Edward Randell (b. 1988) , arr. Edward Randell and Claire Wheeler

This upbeat and flirtatiously romantic song was written by Edward Randell, best known for his acting work in the Harry Potter film series and as a bassist for the internationally known vocal group, the “Swingle Singers.”  The title of the song “Burden”, refers to the Old English practice of employing a musical chorus or motto which was repeated, similar to what would be known today as a refrain. By Shakepeare’s time, the ”burden” referred to the bass part, as it was considered to be “heavy” enough to “carry” the melody.  Hence the idea grew that a “burden” carried the meaning of a song. “Burden” in this instance refers to a supportive love that anchors the soul and changes your life. In this arrangement, clapping reinforces the joyful elements of this love dance. Feel free to smile!


I was never a wild child 'til you untamed me

A cold-blooded creature, 'til you enflamed me

Bashful and self-contained, 'til you unashamed me

Nobody, nobody, nobody 'til you named me

Now you are the air that fills my lungs

You are the breath that makes me strong

You are the catch that sticks in my throat

You are the burden of my song

You are the burden of my song

I can barely remember a time before you

These arms were invented just to reassure you

And these eyes were devised specifically to adore you

Seeing nobody, nobody, nobody 'til they saw you

Now you are the air that fills my lungs

You are the breath that makes me strong

You are the catch that sticks in my throat

You are the burden of my song

You are the burden of my song

You are my hope, My life's refrain

And I know you'll come around again

Now you are the air that fills my lungs

You are the breath that makes me strong

You are the catch that sticks in my throat

You are the burden of my song

You are the burden of my song