Concert Programs

USC Thornton Apollo Chorus & Oriana Choir Concert Program

October 28, 2022
8:00 p.m.

The USC Thornton Apollo Chorus and Oriana Choir present a concert titled “The Tracks We Leave” featuring works new and old that investigate the emotional connections of humanity and what it is to be a good neighbor and friend.

The performance title comes from Jocelyn Hagen’s setting of Native American proverbs in the piece Speak the Truth, performed by the Apollo Chorus. Other works on the program include music by Monteverdi, Purcell, Fauré, Narverud and LaBarr, as well as a special performance of Nick Strimple’s Alabado as a tribute to his final year on faculty after an impressive tenure at the Thornton School of Music.


“Tantsulaul” (Dancing Song) from Meestelaulud
 Greg Vinciguerra
 Sean Natarajan
 Gregory Cheong

Veljo Tormis

“O mio bene” from Nono libro de madrigali
 Sean Natarajan
 Alexis Morales Mendiola
 Dwaipayan Chanda
Featured instrumentalists:
 Robert Wang & Yuqi Wang, basso continuo

Claudio Monteverdi

“Gao Shan Qing” (The Mountain Is Green)
Soloist: Yidu Sun

Taiwanese Folk Song
Reed Criddle, arr. (b. 1981)

“Pitchu Li” from Prayers of Singers

Nick Strimple
(b. 1946)

“Bonse Aba”

Zambian Folk Song
Victor C. Johnson, arr.
(b. 1978)

“In This Wide World”

Matthew Emery
(b. 1991)

“Elijah Rock”

African American Spiritual
Rollo Dilworth, arr.
(b. 1970)

“Speak the Truth”

Native American Proverbs
Jocelyn Hagen
(b. 1980)

“Ahe Lau Makani”

Queen Lili’uokalani
Ali Hodges, ad.

“Tantum ergo”, Op. 65 No. 2 (1894)
 Jessica Lyu
 Reagan Arvidson
 Ivy Xu

Gabriel Fauré

“Autumn Leaves”
 Soni Sharma
Featured instrumentalist:
 Maddie Cheng, saxophone

Paris Rutherford, arr.
(b. 1936)

“Lunar Lullaby”

Jacob Narverud
(b. 1986)

“Sound the Trumpet”
Featured instrumentalists:
 Robert Wang & Yuqi Wang, basso continuo

Henry Purcell

“Where the Light Begins”

Susan LaBarr
(b. 1981)

“What Happens When a Woman”
 Isabella Tiamson
 Abi Bridgeman
 Rhea Anand

Alexandra Olsavsky
(b. 1990)

“Niška Banja”
Featured instrumentalist:
 Yan Liu, clarinet

Nick Page, arr.
(b. 1952)

Program Notes

“Tantsulaul” (Dancing Song) from Meestelaulud
Veljo Tormis (1930–2017)

Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) was a prolific Estonian composer who composed over 500 compositions including choral works, vocal and instrumental music, film scores, and operas. Influenced by his father, who was an organist, choral director, and educator, Tormis is known for writing contrasting timbres in the choral texture which are often compared with organ stops. Tormis began his musical education at the Tallinn Music School in 1943, then began teaching at the Tallinn Music School in 1955 and the Tallinn Music High School in 1962, before transitioning to full time composing in 1966. Despite the censorship of several of his politically provocative works in the late 1970s and 1980s, he became known as one of the great choral composers of Eastern Europe.

“Tantsulaul” is a humorous song from a man who fancies himself a good dancer. He has danced so much that there’s a hole in his sock as big as a horse’s blaze (usually a vertical line on horse’s face). It comes from Tormis’ song cycle Meestelaulud, which is also called the “men’s songs.” However, these are sometimes called the “women’s songs” as they were preserved and passed down over generations mainly by girls and women. The men, on the other hand, were able to travel around as seafarers or warriors and brought back different tunes and topics. Estonian national musical expression is often based on runosongs, an age-old traditional song repertoire dating back thousands of years. The runosongs are so-called transitional folksongs, which was the replacement of ancient runic singing traditions in the nineteenth century and assimilated into contemporary cultural layers (Tormis). Prior to the 1850s, Estonian dance began to reflect Russian music and dance with polkas, waltzes and quadrilles; which was reflected in “Tantsulaul” with the ¾ meter that feels like a waltz. Tormis’ passion for folksong and culture can be heard in many of his compositions as his music had helped to preserve and uplift Estonian national music and dance.

“O mio bene” from Nono libro de madrigali
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)

Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) was an influential early 17th century Venetian composer who helped codify a new musical language: monody, a single vocal line with instrumental accompaniment. No work bridges the Renaissance and the Baroque quite like his Vespers of 1610 (Vespro della Beata Vergine), written for the Gonzaga court in Mantua. In it, Monteverdi combines the traditional technique of weaving together Gregorian plainchant melodies in polyphonic textures (prima prattica) and the monodic style of the emerging genre of opera (seconda prattica). After his employment by the Gonzaga family, Monteverdi auditioned for and earned the position of maestro di cappella at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, where he would remain until the end of his life, writing a great wealth of music for religious services, the court, and opera.

“O mio bene” comes from a collection of madrigals titled Nono libro de madrigali, published in 1651. Of the various subjects covered in the texts of the madrigals, this piece is about unrequited love, in which the singer begs their love to give in: “No more war of love… no more war of penalties… my good love, my joy.” The work has two musical forms for each of the three verses in strophe form. You will hear a duple meter for the opening lines of adoration, each sung by a different voice. Then, as the verse moves to the line “no more war of love (boredom/penalties),” Monteverdi writes a lilting triple meter to represent the urgency of the singers pleading for the lovers’ quarrel to end.

“Gao Shan Qing” (The Mountain Is Green)
Taiwanese Folk Song, Reed Criddle, arr. (b. 1981)

This Taiwanese folk song comes from the film Happenings in Ali Shan, directed by Zhang Ying (1919–2013) and Chang Cheh 1923–2002) in 1948, with lyrics by the famous Taiwanese poet Den Yu-ping (1925–1985). Sung in Mandarin, the song tells of the beautiful Ali Mountain, which is inhabited by the Tzou tribe of aboriginal Taiwan. A portion of the melody, “Nalu wando yiya naya hei,” represents this aboriginal culture and is set very high in the tenor/bass range. “Gao Shan Qing” is now very popular throughout Taiwan, and represents Taiwanese culture around the world. Dr. Reed Criddle (b. 1981), Director of Choral Activities at Utah Valley University, adapted this specific arrangement of “Gao Shan Qing” with tenor/bass chorus and piano. Tremolos in the right hand of the piano imitate the sound of the pipa, a traditional Chinese four-string instrument.

“Pitchu Li” from Prayers of Singers
Nick Strimple (b. 1946)

Nick Strimple (b. 1946) is an American composer, conductor, scholar, author, and professor of choral and sacred music at USC whose interests include twentieth century music, Jewish music, the music of Dvořák and other Czech composers, and the aesthetics of sacred music, though his sweeping expertise in choral music more broadly is known throughout the field. Strimple is recognized internationally for his work with music related to the Holocaust and currently serves as vice president of the David Nowakowsky Foundation, artistic director of the annual Los Angeles Interfaith Symposium and Concert, and sits on the Advisory Boards of the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles and the Aminadav Aloni Music Foundation. His two Christmas Cantatas were recently recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and are available on virtually all streaming platforms. (From the composer’s bio:

Strimple’s “Pitchu Li” is a Hebrew setting of Psalm 118. The piece was commissioned in memory of Scott Elias by his wife, both long-time members of the Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, which Strimple directs. The first five notes of the piece bear a special thank you to Blake Neeley. Strimple tells that he was struggling to compose this work and was inspired by a theme composed by Neeley that appeared at a particularly moving moment in the movie Greyhound. The rest of the work is not derivative of the borrowed theme, but rather freely composed. Strimple’s first setting of “Pitchu Li” is significantly more complicated and scored for unaccompanied mixed chorus. By contrast, this more accessible setting was composed specifically for an ensemble emerging from the COVID pandemic. As the shadow of the COVID pandemic lifts, the certainty of choral forces for any given performance remains unreliable. This setting of “Pitchu Li,” scored for piano and unison chorus, consists of a tuneful melody and supportive accompaniment. The melodic range supports healthy, robust unison singing, which is ideal for choirs dealing with the unpredictability of the pandemic.

“Bonse Aba”
Zambian Folk Song, Victor C. Johnson, arr. (b. 1978)

Victor C. Johnson (b. 1978) is an American music educator, conductor, composer, and arranger. Bonse Aba is an arrangement of a folk song he encountered on a trip to Zambia in 2009. Johnson traveled to a fine arts camp in Lusaka, Zambia, along with students and teachers from the Ft. Worth Academy of Fine Arts. They met students from Tache Home and Balm of Gilead Home who sang “Bonse Aba” as one of their welcome songs. Johnson’s arrangement is dedicated to these students. (From the composer’s note in the score.)

Johnson arranged versions of “Bonse Aba” for SATB, SSA, TTB, three-part mixed, and two-part choir. The text of the festive, celebratory song loosely translates to, “All who sing with [the] spirit have a right to be called the children of God.” (From the composer’s note in the score.) The arrangement is structured as a call-and-response song with three calls and three responses. After the initial presentation of the three calls and responses, the calls are repeated with new text. Throughout the piece, Johnson passes the call to different voice parts, which has the effect of making everyone the song-leader at some point.

“In This Wide World”
Matthew Emery (b. 1991)

Dr. Matthew Emery (b. 1991) is a Canadian composer who “writes with an honesty which enchants (Vancouver Sun),” and whose music is “profoundly beautiful and moving (CBC Music).” His music has been performed in 27 countries, and recent performance venues include the Great Wall of China, the White House, and the Musikverein. Emery has received over 40 commissions and his music has been performed by numerous important Canadian symphony orchestras and choirs. Having studied at the University of British Columbia (B.Mus) and the University of Toronto (M.Mus, DMA), Emery has received over thirty awards and prizes for his compositions and his work has been included on nineteen albums, including a Juno nominated disc. He is currently living in Toronto while teaching at Carleton University and the University of Toronto.

This World War I poem by Andrew Lane was a recent discovery submitted by his son, Gordon Lane (London, Ontario). Lane was a gunner with the 43rd Battery Canadian Field Artillery commissioned in 1916. For this composition, Emery chose to freely adapt lines from Lane’s poem, originally titled “Here On The Top Of Vimy Ridge I Stand,” written in 1917-1918. The full original poem can be found on Emery’s website. “In This Wide World” is a piece which removes all that is not needed. The piano is steadfast in its clarity, and the melodic ideas float in and out of the piano’s gestures. The music expands from unison lines to two- and three-part voicing, then to the climatic section where Lane ask the question “when will all this torture cease?” with four-part lines which weave and intermingle. (Emery) The music expresses solemnity and stillness that pays homage to honoring the dead and the veterans.

“Elijah Rock”
African American Spiritual, Rollo Dilworth, arr. (1970)

Rollo A. Dilworth (b. 1970) is an American composer, conductor, educator, and Vice Dean of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. His works include sacred and secular compositions and arrangements of folk tunes and African American spirituals. Among his arrangements is a 2014 arrangement of “Elijah Rock”. “Elijah Rock” is an African American spiritual that first entered print through Jester Hairston’s 1955 arrangement, a late addition to the printed canon considering that the first anthology of spirituals, Slave Songs of the United States, dates back to 1867. The melody was transferred orally to Jester Hairston and Hall Johnson by an unnamed man who recalled it from his childhood.(“Jester Hairston: Background and Interpretation of “Elijah Rock” as told to Tim Sharer,” The Choral Journal).

Dilworth’s 2014 arrangement of “Elijah Rock” includes versions for treble voices and mixed voices with piano accompaniment. A descending minor bass line forms the foundation of the austere outer sections. The middle of the work is based on a descending major bass line and offers a warmer harmonic language. Though the vocal parts themselves are not harmonically complicated, the accompaniment adds a layer of harmonic complexity featuring Dilworth’s extended tonal language. This balance of accessible choral writing and extended harmony in the accompaniment is a key characteristic of Dilworth’s arrangements. Dilworth’s compositions are especially well-suited for educational settings, as exemplified by the last chord in “Elijah Rock”, which features the only moment of sustained dissonance in the work. This dissonance is approached from a unison, making it easier for young singers to find.

“Speak the Truth”
Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980), Native American Proverbs

Division is everywhere; sometimes we focus more on our differences than our similarities. But what if we were to take a lesson from one of the oldest cultures of the world, to have kindness for all, to be less than one’s neighbor, to embrace responsibility over power?

In “Speak the Truth,” contemporary composer Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980) sets proverbs from Native American culture. These incredibly moving, powerful, and wise lines are lessons by which we should all live. Hagen’s poignant setting of this text speaks for itself with a simplified two-voice texture and piano. While the main theme of the piece is strong and boisterous, listen for the more sensitive moment in the work to better understand the true meaning of these proverbs.

“Ahe Lau Makani”
Queen Lili’uokalani (1838-1917), adapted Hodges

Queen Lili’uokalani (1838-1917), the last sovereign monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, was born as Lydia Kamaka’eha in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She ruled from 1891 until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, and remains a treasured composer of choral music in Hawai’i. She had a rich musical education throughout her life, and although the original purpose of teaching choral music to Native Hawaiians was religious conversion, Native Hawaiians ultimately adopted the art form in their own cultural worldview and rituals. This resulted in a hybrid canon of repertoire and performance practice that is unique to Hawai’i. Lili’uokalani published nineteen choral pieces – including the wildly popular “Alohe ‘oe” – with many more existing only through oral traditions. In addition to her role as composer, she served as choir director and organist at Kawaiaha’o Church and instructed the Singing Club of Honolulu. Throughout her life, Lili’uokalani used composition as a means of personal expression, ranging from homesick depictions of the Hawaiian landscape, to composition as a means of political testimony and revolt, to balancing one’s identity as a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner with fervent Christian beliefs.

“Ahe Lau Makani” is one of Lili’uokalani’s earliest compositions, and is one of the first pieces in the Hawaiian language to be written in triple meter, influenced by the popular waltz style that was introduced to the island by a heavy foreign presence in the 1850s. Like all of her compositions it is infallibly tonal, containing only three chords in the entirety of the piece. This harmonic clarity allows for the highest musical emphasis to be placed on the prominence of the melody, which floats and soars as freely as the Hawaiian breezes the poetry describes. The USC Oriana Choir owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Jace Saplan for their scholarship on the choral works of Lili’uokalani, which has allowed for this historically and culturally informed performance.

“Tantum ergo”, Op. 65 No. 2 (1894)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) is perhaps best known for his French art songs and works for solo piano, sometimes being labeled as the “greatest master of French song.” However, his setting of the Requiem and his smaller sacred works – like this particular “Tantum Ergo” – have endeared him to choral singers for over a century. Living and working on the cusp of the Romantic and Contemporary periods of western classical music, Fauré developed his own unique musical idiom by incorporating elements of modality, simplicity (as opposed to virtuosity), and special coloristic effects that paved the way for future musical Impressionists such as Claude Debussy (1862-1918).

Fauré wrote three separate settings of “Tantum ergo” in his lifetime – one for mixed choir with organ and harp, one for accompanied solo voice, and this delicate setting for treble voices, solo trio, and organ. The text comes from the final stanzas of the Eucharistic Hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274), offering the composer continuous opportunity for sweet reflection on the Holy Sacrament. The structure for “Tantum Ergo” is simple. There are two main sections, first stated by the solo trio and then mirrored and built upon by the choir. Each section begins with a statement of the main theme (rising and falling like gentle rapids), then continuing with the soprano soloists taking turns on an upward soaring solo melody, steering the harmony to the unexpected key of G major, and finally coming to a tension-release in the home key of E major. “Tantum Ergo” ends predictably on a series of “amens,” but as they drift through unexpected modality and diminishment to return angelically to the tonic, they prove a stunning example of the harmonic interest that draws singers into Fauré’s world.

“Autumn Leaves”
arr. Paris Rutherford (b. 1934)

“Autumn Leaves” is a tune that has lived many lives. Since its original conception as instrumental music for a ballet pas de deux in the 1940s, “Autumn Leaves” has been recorded over 1400 times and has earned a reputation as one of the most beloved jazz standards of the twentieth century. The song’s early success, with French lyrics by the poet Jacques Prévert (1900-1977), inspired famed American lyricist-composer Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) to write the English lyrics. (Mercer would also go on to write lyrics for another famous song: “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.) The music, first written by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma (1905-1969) for the ballet Le Rendez-vous, has far eclipsed its origins through iconic recordings by nearly every famous American jazz artist from Nat King Cole (1919-1965) to Duke Ellington (1899-1974). Paris Rutherford (b. 1934) , a Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of North Texas in the field of jazz arranging and vocal jazz performance, arranged this classic for treble ensemble in 2018.

The vocal jazz genre is characterized by close-knit harmonies, flashy articulation, a smooth delivery, and “scat” singing (a method of vocal improvisation on articulated syllables), all of which can be found in Rutherford’s arrangement. This song is structured around a verse (“The autumn leaves drift by my window…”) and refrain (“Since you went away, the days grow long…”), which are fully stated together only once, at the song’s beginning. Rutherford structured the remainder of the piece with the traditional method of introducing improvisation over the verse followed by a reintroduction of the lyrics at the refrain. He employs this method twice, first with a faux-improvised “scatted” choral verse followed by a soloist refrain, and second with an improvised instrumental verse followed by the return of the full choir for the final refrain.

“Lunar Lullaby”
Jacob Narverud (b. 1986)

Jacob Narverud (b.1986) is an American composer, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, and pianist of Norwegian descent. Known for his eclectic choral catalog, Narverud is internationally recognized for his original compositions, arrangements of Broadway and popular music, and performance editions of standard choral works from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical eras. His music is performed worldwide by choirs of all levels. Among his most performed works are: “Ad Astra”, “Dominus Vobiscum”, “Lunar Lullaby”, and “Sisi Ni Moja”. Narverud is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and conferences as well as an active guest conductor and clinician for festivals and all-state choirs across the United States. His music is published by Santa Barbara, Alliance, Carl Fischer, Alfred, G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard, and JW Pepper. Many of his Editors’ Choice compositions are publisher best-sellers. “Sisi Ni Moja”, performed for the Prince of Wales in 2018, was the number one best seller for Santa Barbara Music in 2019, 2020, and 2021. (From the composer’s website:

“Lunar Lullaby” was commissioned by Chris and Sharon Nicely for their daughter, Kathleen Nicely, to celebrate her nine years of singing with the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City. Kathleen is a high school graduate of St. Teresa’s Academy and an avid poet who wrote the text for “Lunar Lullaby” herself. The work opens with a gentle piano introduction, whose constant eighth notes become the main support for the singers for the rest of the piece. A unison melody develops into a canon telling the story of a celestial child who comes from the stars. In the middle section, the piano relaxes into a sweet, slow-moving chordal progression that creates a bridge to a recapitulation of the opening melody.

“Sound the Trumpet”
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was one of the most well-known English Baroque composers of his time. He began singing at an early age and later became a chorister and organist at the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey. Purcell began composing at the age of nine; his earliest known work is an ode to the king’s birthday, written in 1670. He went on to Westminster School and was appointed a scribe of Westminster Abbey in 1676. From 1679 until his death in 1695, the height of his professional success was serving in the Chapel Royal as well as composing anthems, hymns, carols, and other similar works for King James II (1633-1701) and Queen Mary (1867-1953), including I was glad, My heart is inditing, Arise, My Muse, and Come Ye Sons of Art. He also wrote music for several plays, such as The Fairy-Queen, and King Arthur. Purcell was a prolific composer up until his death, writing music for forty-two plays in the last six years of his life. His music uses not only English compositional techniques, but also French and Italian elements thus forming his unique color in the Baroque period.

“Sound the Trumpet” was a countertenor duet from Purcell’s Come Ye Sons of Art, a birthday ode for Queen Mary for chorus and soloists written in 1694. The texts of the ode was written by Nahum Tate (1652-1715), who was Poet Laureate of England at the time. Purcell’s music shows sensitivity to the vocal demands of the text, using melismas on comfortable open vowels and rhythmic motives that align with the rhetoric of the text. The result is a singable, festive work that has had great versatility; although “Sound the Trumpet” was originally written for a royal birthday, it has since been used in many other ceremonies and occasions. The work begins with a bright D major fanfare in the accompaniment. The vocal entries, which are set over a modulating ground bass, also simulate the sound of the trumpet, alternating phrases of the melody in a canon. A master of text setting, Purcell used light, graceful, and delicate melismas, punctuated with shorter rhythms, to create an atmosphere of excitement and celebration.

“Where the Light Begins”
Susan LaBarr (b. 1981)

Susan LaBarr (b. 1981) is a composer and choral editor living and working in Springfield, Missouri. Her compositions are published by Walton Music, Morningstar Music, and Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Susan has completed commissions for choirs worldwide, most notably Seraphic Fire, the National ACDA Women’s Choir Consortium, and the Texas Choral Directors Association’s Director’s Chorus. Central to Susan’s musical vocabulary is the knowledge she gained from studying with Alice Parker when she attended Parker’s Composer’s Workshop and Melody Studies Workshop. Susan attended Missouri State University in Springfield, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Master of Music in music theory. Susan, her husband Cameron, and their son Elliott reside in Springfield, Missouri, where Cameron is the Director of Choral Studies at Missouri State University and Susan works as Editor of Walton Music. (Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc.)

“Where the Light Begins” is a delicate piece with text from poetry originally written for the Advent season by Jan Richardson. Richardson writes, “Though we cannot see or feel or know all the ways that God is radiantly illuminating us, may we open ourselves toward that light.” The piece is scored for SSA choir and has a beautiful piano accompaniment, which supports the treble voices as they expand in range and complexity throughout the piece. The text discusses the meaning of love and acceptance, encouraging the singers and audience to be the light for each other.

“What Happens When A Woman?”
Alexsandra Olsavsky (b. 1990)

Alexandra Olsavsky (b. 1990), a “beautifully voiced” soprano (Herald-Times, Bloomington Early Music), is a collaborative musical artist who actively performs with a diverse array of artistic ensembles, including those that specialize in Renaissance and Baroque era music, world music, chamber works, music of living composers, interdisciplinary art-making, social justice, and outreach. Of note, Alexandra is the recipient of a generous Make a Wave grant from 3Arts: a nonprofit organization that supports Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities who work in the performing, teaching, and visual arts. (From the composer’s website:

“What Happens When a Woman?” is an original composition for SSA choir recorded on Sounds Like Us, the debut album of the folk trio Artemisia, of which Olsavsky is a founding member. Artemisia is a Chicago-based vocal trio that harnesses the power of the female voice to tell stories through the vocal traditions of the world. The song is one of empowerment, full of body percussion and fiery text. Olsavsky skillfully layers in three-part harmony, building the intensity of the piece as each voice asks the question, “What happens when…?”

“Niška Banja”
arr. Nick Page (b. 1952)

Nick Page (b.1952) is a Boston based composer, conductor and author who is best
known for his song leading. In the 1980s, he was a conductor with the Emmy Award winning
Chicago Children’s Choir. Since 1990, he has led Boston’s Mystic Chorale and guest conducted around the world, including at three of the four Carnegie Halls (Pittsburgh, New York, and Scotland). His choral works have premiered everywhere from Lincoln Center to humble school cafetorium. He is the author of three books and has close to one hundred published choral pieces. Nick Page works with children who have an inborn love of singing, and he works with adults, many of whom have lost their love of singing a long time ago. Nick renews the love. He also works with educators, both classroom teachers and music specialists. His teacher workshops foster creativity and compassion, ranging from multicultural themes to the integration of music into academic subjects such as science, reading, history, etc. (From the composer’s website:

“Niška Banja” is a Serbian Roma dance that is popular throughout Yugoslavia. Named after the coastal city of Nis, “Niška Banja” involves a lively four-step dance with the fourth step or skip being slightly longer than the others. Other than the basic rhythm, however, the dance tends to be fully improvised. It is remarkable for its 9/8 beat, subdivided in twos and threes (2+2+2+3),which triggers a powerful dance instinct in the body of its listeners. The meaning of the text is playful: “Let’s go to the baths of Nis where we shall kiss, kiss, kiss.” Even though this arrangement does not include traditional folk elements such as the accordion, bouzoukee, mandolin, and tambourine, Page gives choirs the freedom to create diverse colors by offering optional clarinet and tambourine parts as well as the written piano accompaniment in his TB, SA, SAAB, and SSAA versions of the work.

Text & Translations

“Tantsulaul” (Dancing Song) from Meestelaulud
Veljo Tormis (1930–2017)

Let our Mari come,
I shall get her on her feet.
Ait-tali-rali-raa, ali-ramp-tamp-taa. Utireetu,utireetu,trallallaa.
My sock heels have holes like an old mare’s blaze.
My ears are singing
as if Jüri from next door was playing the pipes.

“O mio bene” from Nono libro de madrigali
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643)

Oh my good love, my life,
do not make me languish anymore.
Don’t deny me help,
that I feel I am dying.
No more war of love,
no, no, my heart.

O beautiful eyes, o beautiful rays,
no more, no more suffering,
don’t give me trouble anymore,
that I feel faint.
No more war of penalties,
no, no, my good love.

O my heart, o my face,
be no more cruel to me,
no longer deny me peace,
because I am faithful to you.
No more boredom war,
no, no, my joy.

O mio bene, o mia vita,
non mi far più languire.
Non mi negar aita,
ch’io mi sento morire.
Non più guerra d’amore,
no, no, mio core.

O begli occhi, o bei rai,
non più, non più penare,
non mi date più guai,
ch’io mi sento mancare.
Non più guerra di pene,
no, no, mio bene.

O mio core, o mia face,
non m’esser più crudele,
non mi negar più pace,
perché io ti son fedele.
Non più guerra di noia,
no, no, mia gioia.

“Gao Shan Qing” (The Mountain Is Green)
Taiwanese Folk Song, Reed Criddle, arr. (b. 1981)


碧水長圍著青山轉 嘿

gao shan qing jian shui lan
a li shan de gu niang mei ru shui ya
a li shan de shao nian zhuang ru shan
a li shan de gu niang mei ru shui ya
a li shan de shao nian zhuang ru shan
gao shan chang qing jian shui chang lan
gu niang he na shao nian yong bu fen ya
bi shui chang wei zhuo qing shan zhuan

The high mountain is green, the valley water blue.
The girl on A-Li Mountain is as beautiful as the water.
The boy in A-Li Mountain is as strong as the mountain.
The high mountain is always green,
the valley water is always blue.
The girl and the young man will never part.
The blue waters will flow around the mountain forever.

“Pitchu Li” from Prayers of Singers
Nick Strimple (b. 1946)

פִּתְחוּ לִי שַׁעֲרֵי צֶדֶק אָבֹא בָם אוֹדֶה יָהּ: זֶה הַשַּׁעַר לַה’ צַדִּיקִים יָבֹאוּ בוֹ:

Pitchu li sha’arei tzedek
odeh Yah
Zeh hasha’ar ladonai
tzadikim yavo’u vo.

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter into them,
I will give thanks unto the Lord.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter into it.

“Bonse Aba”
Zambian Folk Song, Victor C. Johnson, arr. (b. 1978)

Bonse aba, mu pokelela, Ba lipele maka akuba bana.
Kuba bana, kuba bana, kuba bana bakwa lesa.
Muya ya ya, muya ya ya, muya ya ya, bakwa lesa.

All who sing with [the] spirit have a right to be called the children of God

“In This Wide World”
Matthew Emery (b. 1991)

Here on the top of Vimy Ridge I stand
And looking out behold so vast a land
What wreckage here, where once was landscape fair

What woeful damage done beyond compare
To this broad plain below, so rare
Which one did smile.
And breathed its love.
For all mankind

When shall it end, when will all this torture cease?
In this wide world.

– Andrew Lane (1917)

“Elijah Rock”
African American Spiritual, Rollo Dilworth, arr. (b. 1970)

Oh, Elijah. Elijah Rock, Elijah Rock, shout!
Elijah Rock, shout! Shout!
Elijah Rock, comin’ up Lord.
Oh, Elijah Rock, shout! Shout! Elijah Rock, comin’ up Lord.

Satan’s a liar and a conjur, too.
If you don’t mind out, he’ll conjur you.

Way up in Glory, gonna sing and shout.
And there’s no one waiting there to put me out

Oh, Elijah!
If I could I surely would stand on the rock where Moses stood. Oh!

“Speak the Truth”
Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980), Native American Proverbs

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but
to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Be brave where bravery is honorable.
Man has responsibility, not power.
Speak the truth to all people.

Give me knowledge, so I may have kindness for all.
The more you give, the more good things come to you.
Be kind to everything that lives.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

“Ahe Lau Makani”
Queen Lili’uokalani (1838-1917), adapted Hodges

Text by Queen Lili’uokalani

He ‘ala nei e pu mai nei,
Na ka makani lau aheahe
I lawe mai a ku’u nui kino.
Ho’opumehana i ko aloha.

E ke hoa o ke, ahe lau makani,
Halihali ‘ala o ku’u ‘āina.

He ‘ala nei e moani mai nei,
Na ka ua noe Līlīehua
I lawe mai a ku’u poli.
Ho’opumehana i ku’u poli

There is a breath so gently breathing,
So soft, so sweet by sighing breezes,
That as it touches my whole being,
It brings a warmth unto my soul.

We, fair one, together shall enjoy such
Moments, while murmuring wind sweeps, o’er my fatherland.

There is a breath so soft and balmy,
Brought by sweet zephyrs, Līlīehua,
And while wafted to my bosom,
It brings a yearning for one I love

Tantum ergo, Op. 65 No. 2 (1894)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Text by Thomas Aquinas

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum

Genitori, genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:

Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

Therefore, so greatly the Sacrament
Let us venerate with heads bowed:
And let the old practice give way to the new rite

To the one who generates and the one who is generated, be praise and joy,
Health, honor, and virtue also,
And blessing too:

To the one proceeding from both
Let there be equal priase.

“Autumn Leaves”
arr. Paris Rutherford (b. 1936)

English translation by Johnny Mercer

The falling leaves drift by my window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

“Lunar Lullaby”
Jacob Narverud (b. 1986)

Text by Kathleen Nicely

The moon settles in the dusty sky.
The gentle eyes of the north star
rest upon your sleeping face
and the heavens gaze upon you.

In this moment, I know:
You are not from the ground on which you tread,
but of the stars.
You are my radiant, my celestial child.

As night is drown’d by morning
you remain at my side,
accompanying the sunrise
until night swells again across the sky.

Then, dreaming, you return to the stars.

“Sound the Trumpet”
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

Text by Nahum Tate

Sound the trumpet, till around
you make the list’ning shores rebound.

On the sprightly hautboy play
all the instruments of joy
that skillful numbers can employ
to celebrate the glories of this day.

“Where the Light Begins”
Susan LaBarr (b. 1981)

Text by Jan Richardson

Perhaps it does not begin.
Perhaps it is always.

Perhaps it takes
a lifetime
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us-

the luminous line
of the map in the dark

the vigil flame
in the house
of the heart

the love
so searing
we cannot keep
from singing,
from crying out

“What Happens When a Woman”
Alexandra Olsavsky (b. 1990)

Text Alexandra Olsavsky

What happens when a woman takes power?
What happens when she won’t back down?
What happens when a woman takes power?
What happens when she wears the crown?

What happens when she rules her own body?
What happens when she sets the beat?
What happens when she bows to nobody?
What happens when she stands on her own two feet?

We rise above;
We lead with love;
We have won;
We are one;
We’ve just begun.

“Niška Banja”
arr. Nick Page (b. 1952)

Traditional text

Niska banja topla voda zaniš lije živa zjoda.
Emka ravla, Emkame ravla, Ando niši name kavla.
Nišli kesu fine dame neše taju nikad same.
Jek duj duj duj desuj duj cu mi davte caje sado muj.
Ando niši name kavla.


Let’s go to the baths of Nis where we shall kiss, kiss, kiss.


Apollo Chorus
Aman Bansal
Dwaipayan Chanda
Wangqi Chen
Gregory Cheong
Louis Coffin
Gabriel Finn
Mudit Garg
Callia Geib
Kevin Gramling
Adam Hassan
Jonathan Huang
David Johnson
Mihir Kavishwar
Caleb Kocsis
Daniel Kos
Jason Lee
Haozhe Bruce Lu
Jun Matoba
Daevenmar Mendoza
Alexis Morales Mendiola
Sean Natarajan
Raphael Navarro
Daniel Purcell
Ryan Sanders
Yidu Sun
Daniel Tong
Samuel Vara
Aidan Vass
Greg Vinciguerra
Hoangnha Vo
Junyan Wan
Mithrandir Wang
Zachary Whalen
Michael (Dalei) Xu
Daniel Young
Ariel Zhou

Oriana Choir
Soprano 1
Chelsea Ackman
Rhea Anand
Gigi Calcagno
Lauren Elizabeth Campbell
Guangrui Cheng
Ellen Herschel
Deborah Ho
Jessica Lyu
Julianne Papadopoulos
Aspen K Somers
Sophie von Wuthenau
Tianyu Wang
ShiJia Ye
Soprano 2
Lavina Lavakumar Agarwal
Reagan Arvidson
Kaiyue Bian
Chih-Han Chang
Madeline Clara Cheng
Valerie Fang
Anika Gupta
Kübra Keskin
Nitya Parasuramuni
Nhi Ashley Phan
Anika Shrivastava
Stella Sichen Zhou
Vedanshi Sharma
Kyra Stahr
Alana Benson
Brianna Birkel
Aiyana Braun
Abigail Bridgeman
Lakota Dodging Horse
Ali Sandweiss Hodges
Emma May Gordon
Cricket Gorey
Xiaonan Ji
Kai Kaufman
Himani Ketkar
Tess Sanford
Isabella Tiamson
Ivy Wenqi Xu
Laia Pujol-Rovira
Chantal Eyong
Amelia Horney
Shirley Liu