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DON MACDONALD

Newsletter Jan 2016

This is my second choral newsletter showcasing recent works.

Christmas Reverie/SATB

I was commissioned to write this vocal jazz piece by Electra Women’s Choir in Vancouver BC for their Christmas Concert in 2015. Hal Leonard will be publishing it but at the moment you can contact me for pre-publication orders. Originally written for SSAA it will be published in SATB.

The lyric is about hearing a busker on a street corner, reliving memories of favourite Christmases past, and being grateful that songs can connect us to such memories. Woven in are snippets of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and O Holy Night.

Cat #35030682, SATB with piano and optional bass, Hal Leonard, Mark Foster, US – $2.50

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Voices of the Ancients/TTB SSA

This piece was premiered by the SSA vocal group Ananta in their October concert.

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Last Night of Stars/SATB

This piece was premiered by the Vancouver Chamber Choir in the Fall. Hal Leonard will be publishing it and, like Christmas Reverie above, you can contact me for pre-publication orders.

Cat. # – 50600424 SATB Divisi, A Cappella US $2.25

A child lies in her bed at night staring out of her high-rise window at a view obscured by a
thick haze, her bedroom flooded with sounds from the city. One child such as this may be the voice that brings about the changes needed to remedy our relationship with the planet.

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Boots (Infantry Columns)/TTBB

This piece, commissioned by the Canadian Men’s Chorus, was premiered in Nov at their Remembrance Day concert.

The wonderful text is by Rudyard Kipling. Here is an excerpt of my composers notes from the first performance.

I was lucky enough to come across a reading of this poem by a fellow named Taylor Holmes recorded in 1915. It is rare to find poetry that when read aloud has such a profound effect on the listener. Holmes reads the poetry at march tempo and, patiently at first, gives us glimpses of the frustration experienced by the men as they soldier on. But as the poem progresses his reading becomes less and less that of the narrator and more  that of a character experiencing the ordeal. So suited to a musical setting, the poem and the reading both have a wonderful crescendo that build incessantly.  The slowly disintegrating timbre of Holmes’ voice reveal the frustration, anger, and eventual madness that many men endured. They were trapped both physically and mentally by their ordeal, a fact wonderfully alluded to in Kipling’s repeated chorus “There’s no discharge form the war”. TTBB with snare drum and marching.

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There is No Rose/SATB SSAA

A revised version of this piece was created this year and published by Cypress. It is available for SATB and SSAA and received some wonderful performances by various choirs inlcuding Elektra Women’s Choir.

 

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When the Earth Stands Still/SATB SSAA TTBB

This piece is to be published by ECS Publishing in September of 2016.

For prepub orders, contact

Melissa Schelich mschelich@morningstarmusic.com

Canticle Distributing, 1727 Larkin Williams Road Fenton, MO 63026-2024

TTBB studio recording sung by Don Macdonald.

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Fusion/SATB SSAA

This piece will be premiered by the University of Western Ontario Women’s Choir in February. It is available for SSAA and SATB.

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Pacem/SATB

The piece will be performed by one of the Kokapelli adult choirs in Llangollen, Wales this July as part of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

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Tabula Rasa/SATB SSAA TTBB Concert band String Orch

Tabula Rasa was beautifully recorded by the Canadian Chamber Choir and Xara Women’s Choir.

It was also arranged for Concert Band by Dr. Mark Hopkins, Associate Professor in the School of Music at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

 

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The Piano/SATB

This piece was published by Cypress Publishing in September.

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Winter Sun/SATB SSAA

This piece was recorded by the Phoenix Chamber Choir.

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The Bridge Builder/SATB

This piece was featured in the G Schimer(Hal Leonard) Choral Artistry Series in Septmeber. It is part of the Jon Washburn Choral Series.

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Blues for a Green Boy/SATB

This peice was published by Cypress Publishing in September.

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News

Welcome to the KHAOS  website.

Composer Don Macdonald and writer/librettist Nicola Harwood have  been commissioned by the Amy Ferguson Institute to write a full length opera called “KHAOS”, a re-imagining of the myth of Persephone and Demeter that reinforces our understanding of the seasonal cycles of death and regeneration. Set in a mythical present, KHAOS will highlight the voices of two central female characters, a central male character and be supported by  large chorus and orchestra.

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KHAOS is slated to premiere in March 2012.

Subscribe to our online blog where you’ll be able to follow the path of this opera from conception to completion.

Listen to audio demos from composer Don Macdonald as he builds the musical component of this work and read about the development of the libretto under the pen of Nicola Harwood. The audio presented here is being used for demonstration purposes only. Since KHAOS is a work in progress the music should be considered ” in development”. The final work may be played by a large orchestra or small chamber orchestra but at the moment all musical examples are recorded with modern musical sampling software. Vocalists on the recordings are Don Macdonald and Allison Girvan.

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Newsletter May 2015

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DON MACDONALD/Music for Choirs/Spring 2015

This is the first newsletter from my updated website. Twice a year I hope to keep people informed about new works. The site currently has audio and video for many of the new works. Subscribe to the newsletter if you would like to receive these (twice yearly) emails in the future.

I suggest that you – View this email online

Fusion

Written for an intermediate level ensemble, this high energy piece would be a great concert closer. It was written to explore choral writing without the use of poetry. Abandoning poetry opens up many compositional doors for the choral composer since being unrestrained by text yields a greater ability to choose your own rhythm and form among other things. I chose to make up syllables that would fit each of the motifs in the piece. The bass ostinato throughout the piece is based on the rhythm of a taiko drum pattern I heard many years ago while the upper parts explore short motifs and contemporary harmonies. The uniting of these two ideas felt to me like a “fusion” of different musical styles, thus the title.

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Pacem

This piece is written for an advanced ensemble with the ability to do up to 8 parts divisi. In order to bring more emotional weight to this anti war composition I created two sections that rely solely on the idea of descending stepwise motion. Each voice descends at different times and using different note lengths until finally coming to rest. The text takes Latin quotes, phrases and sayings and weaves them into a tapestry that carries a strong and timeless message.

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The Piano

This piece was written for an intermediate level ensemble. The wonderful poetry by D.H. Lawrence is set in such a way that the choir and the piano meet as equal partners in shaping this wonderful imagery; “Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings…”

Purchase from Cypress Publishing

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Winter Sun

“To light, to water, and the flow of birds through ancient stars.” This fantastic poetry written by Malca Litovitz, so rich with imagery of the Canadian Winter, provided the inspiration for a composition that embraces word painting.

Purchase at Cypress Publishing

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The Bridge Builder

Written for an advanced ensemble, this wonderful parable by Will Allen Dromgoole has a dreamy quality and the music reflects that by using subtle syncopation and a scale that produces chords and melodies that straddle the gulf between darkness and light.

Purchase at Sheet Music Plus

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When the Earth Stands Still

I wrote this for my wife Allison Girvan’s small but advanced youth choir, Laline, the smallest of 3 ensembles that she directs. I decided to compose a song much as a contemporary songwriter would, with my own lyrics and a form based around repeating verse and chorus. This is probably one of the easiest pieces of mine to learn yet one of the hardest to perform since the long phrases require a great deal of attention to dynamics, breathing, and consistency of tone.

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Blues for a Green Boy

Written for an intermediate to advanced level ensemble this piece takes the listener into the mind of a young boy as he plays the blues but lives in a world of green. Subtle shades of gospel are woven into contemporary harmonies.

available from Cypress Publishing

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Fishing by the Light of the Ancestors

This is the second album by husband and wife team Allison Girvan and Don Macdonald featuring songs from around the world.
Adrift in an ocean

at the edge of the world,

I wait as those who came before me

cradle the moon in their hands.

They press the moon up above them

until, at last, it is held high in their outstretched arms

and I cast my line into the water

down through their reflections.

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New CD Release!

Fishing By the Light of the Ancestors

Cover_500pxwThis is my second album with (my wife) Allison featuring songs from around the world which I arranged and produced. I also performed on violin, mandolin, percussion, viola, voice and piano. This time out the listener is treated to arrangements that rely heavily on string quartet in pieces from Africa, Haiti, Cuba, Russia, Ireland and more..

The CD release concert is on Nov 20th at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson, BC. On Nov 20 the recording will be released on itunes and the CD will be available for order on this website.

To order please visit Allison’s website here…

http://www.allisongirvan.com/?page_id=341

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Khaos Receives International Recognition

Khaos the opera

It has been almost a year since the world premiere of the Kootenay’s new opera, KHAOS.  We were extremely gratified by the tremendous support and enthusiastic response KHAOS received at that time and we hoped that meant there was a future for the new work beyond our efforts here in the Kootenays.

Since last spring we have been working to bring the work to the attention of the wider operatic world with a view to having it mounted by other opera companies.

This month our efforts have finally been rewarded – and in a very big way.

#1.  KHAOS will be one of only four new operas selected by New York based, OPERA America (the umbrella organization of North American opera companies and opera professionals), to be showcased at the NEW WORKS SAMPLER event of their annual Opera Conference – this year taking place in Vancouver, BC from May 7 to 11.  This conference is without doubt the best opportunity any new opera could hope to have for making itself known to the people best placed to consider mounting it by their own opera companies.

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#2.  The Boston Metro Opera advised us a few days later that KHAOS had been selected by their “2013 International Composers Competition” to receive a “Directors Choice Award.”  Their website indicates that operas given this award will be performed by the Boston Metro Opera as part of the regular operatic season.

Click on the link to download the full news release.

Khaos News Release

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KHOAS Receives International Recognition

opera-america-logoIt has been almost a year since the world premiere of the Kootenay’s new opera, KHAOS.  We were extremely gratified by the tremendous support and enthusiastic response KHAOS received at that time and we hoped that meant there was a future for the new work beyond our efforts here in the Kootenays.

Since last spring we have been working to bring the work to the attention of the wider operatic world with a view to having it mounted by other opera companies.

This month our efforts have finally been rewarded – and in a very big way.

#1.  KHAOS will be one of only four new operas selected by New York based, OPERA America (the umbrella organization of North American opera companies and opera professionals), to be showcased at the NEW WORKS SAMPLER event of their annual Opera Conference – this year taking place in Vancouver, BC from May 7 to 11.  This conference is without doubt the best opportunity any new opera could hope to have for making itself known to the people best placed to consider mounting it by their own opera companies.

#2.  The Boston Metro Opera advised us a few days later that KHAOS had been selected by their “2013 International Composers Competition” to receive a “Directors Choice Award.”  Their website indicates that operas given this award will be performed by the Boston Metro Opera as part of the regular operatic season.

Click on the link to download the full news release.

Khaos News Release