Monday, May 14, 2018

In natali Domini - To My Mother


In Natali Domini - photo, David Rain


We’re coming up to the final two concerts of our Stairwell Carollers 40th anniversary season, and I’m over the moon excited that we’ll be premiering my third piece with the Carollers, “In natali Domini.”

I have dedicated this piece to my late mother, Lois Rain, as it was on her CD of medieval three-part songs that I first came across this little gem.
Spring Forget-Me-Nots
My arrangement of this rhythmically exciting piece is for four parts, and includes an introduction, a mini-fugue verse, and a rousing coda to finish the piece.

As a singer myself, I wanted to ensure that everyone had some sections that they could really dig into. I shone a special spotlight on my alto buddies, who open the piece low in their register, but with great power, accompanied by the tenors. Then the basses come in with a strong rhythmic accent and the first verse comes to an end.
Stairwell tenors in rehearsal - David Rain, top left
The sopranos then get the spotlight in verse two as they soar upwards angelically (singing literally about the Angel Gabriel) with the altos and tenors accompanying them. Verse three features the men, initially in a low monkish register, but again soaring upwards towards the end of their section.
A mix of our sopranos and altos at rehearsal
Verse four is the fugue, with the initial spotlight on the basses, who get to sing the full melody from beginning to end. To date, this has been the most difficult section of music that I have written, amongst my 30+ compositions. A tiny passage of music, yet with all four parts exploring the basic “In natali” theme, how challenging to get it just right.
Stairwell basses attentive to Pierre's direction in rehearsal
After many attempts, I realized there was the possibility of having the two women’s parts play off each other. And so, the altos again get to shine, as they leapfrog over the sopranos, but then the sopranos respond and move above the altos, then it’s the altos, then the sopranos, and so on.

The effect I was aiming for was to create a feeling of reaching upwards, a longing to climb that elusive stairway to heaven, so to speak.
Heaven waits
It’s a challenging section, this fugue, and our director Pierre Massie has worked us really hard to pull it all together. I’m so thankful that he’s bringing this new musical creation to life and acknowledge his many compositional suggestions during the gestation period too.

It’s just one small piece in the midst of a very exciting, diverse concert program for our 40th anniversary finale. To our loyal blog readers, I do hope you can make it, you won’t be disappointed.

David Rain

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You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Thanks,
Holly :)

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