Christmas Gloria – New Baroque Style Music for Chorus and Chamber Ensemble

Christmas Gloria © 2007 Conrad Askland. Christmas Gloria in the Baroque style for SATB Chorus, SAT Trio Soloists, Flue, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Trumpet, Horn, Tuba, Harpsichord and Percussion. Composed by Conrad Askland for the 2007 Christmas Eve service at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church.

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Email Q&A: Who wrote Ave Maria

Email question received:

I read quite a few articles on the internet but still not sure who actually first composed Ave Maria, despite so many name changes to the music.  I read that Bach, Schubert and Gounod were at least the three persons  associated with Ave Maria but separated by hundreds of years apart.  The music on Youtube and other places are the same for all three.  Can you tell me?

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Karl Richter – Bach D moll Toccata


This morning I’ve been watching Karl Richter videos on YouTube. I especially enjoyed clips of the Bach B minor Mass. In this video of JS Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D minor listen to Richter’s organ stop choice at 4:30 – I think it’s wonderful.

Not sure, but from the looks I think this is the original organ of Bach in Leipzig, Germany.

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The Christmas Gloria – One Year Later

In early December 2007 I had let go of all but one of my posts in preparation of leaving to work for Cirque Du Soleil. I received notice at the beginning of December that my date to join Cirque had been moved to three weeks later so I had some time on my hands. My last job I still retained was music director at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon, WA.

I wanted to do something with my newfound free time; so decided to do something crazy that I had always wanted to do: To write a complete orchestral and choral work in one week like JS Bach used to do for his weekly church services. My last service for the church was Christmas Eve 2007 so I decided to write a Gloria for presentation at the evening Christmas Eve service.

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Doyle Dykes Wabash Cannonball


Doyle Dykes is an renowned acoustic guitar artist and Christian musician. I saw this Doyle Dykes video posted on one of my guitar discussion forums. It sure made me homesick! I used to work at a music store and Doyle Dykes did a guitar clinic for us. He’s a Taylor Guitar artist. He also performs often at one of my favorite churches in Southern California – Calvary Chapel High Desert.

When I listen to his rendition of Wabash Cannonball – I swear I can almost hear the lyrics being sung from the guitar. He’s absolutely amazing.

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Applause in Church

Received an email recently from someone who performed at a church concert where the audience was asked to not applaude between songs. They were a little upset about it and wanted to know what I thought about it.

I’ll start by saying I’ve played at a lot of churches that applaud, and a lot that don’t. I never tried to change the ways of each group, just went with the flow. I was usually a hired musician and didn’t feel it was my place to make calls like that. Each church has it’s own culture. I was raised in a Lutheran church that rarely clapped – so later in life I had to get used to hearing clapping in church.

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Victoria’s View on the Christmas Gloria

Article by Vicki McCarty about my Christmas Gloria which debuted Christmas Eve 2007.

Victoria’s View

“Drop off the music you got Wednesday and pick up the new packet.  Conrad has revised it”!  Huh?  Our jaws dropped in disbelief…how can that be?  We just got it and have only had one rehearsal…and we’re singing it tonight!!!    We took note of the sign on the front door and shook our heads.  This was turning into a memorable Christmas – in more than one way.  I could not have imagined this kind of Christmas Eve even a few years ago.  We entered and emptied the notebook with the music we had just picked up 5 days ago.  We were still reeling from the announcement our young music director had made just 2 weeks earlier.  “I’m thinking of writing a new piece of music for Christmas in a week – just like Bach and Mozart used to do!”   He went on to explain that it was common for them to write something new every week for church the next week.  So, he sat down and did it himself, just to see if it was possible.  I could not help but think what confidence he had in our choir – to think we could perform it after just one long practice – and do it in Latin – that took some confidence.

Two hours later, the service began.  Could we do it – the small group of musicians gathered together – we rehearsed it through twice with the orchestra – then our moment came.  A quiet fell over the congregation – and the first performance of Conrad Askland’s Christmas Gloria in D was born.  And it was beautiful.   A true Christmas miracle happened that night.  A wondrous story was told again, and became new and real to all there.  It was heralded with a beautiful new composition written to announce the glory of God.  A new Bach had done the impossible – composed, rehearsed, and presented his new work.  And we got to be there for the event.

We returned home to a house with no decorations, no tree, no dinner, and only the two of us.  But our heads were still ringing with the sound of Gloria in Excelsis Deo.   A memorable Christmas – in so many ways.  Move over Bach and Beethoven – there’s a new kid in town.

With caring,


Gloria Challenge Part V – The Performance

If you’ve been following along with the “Gloria Challenge” then this page has everything you might be interested in. Full instrument and conductor scores, rehearsal MP3’s, final performance MP3 and links to posts made during the process.

The “Gloria Challenge” was to follow the footsteps of JS Bach to compose and perform a full scale sacred work for SATB Chorus and Chamber Orchestra at a church service, and to do it all within one week. The piece I composed was the “Christmas Gloria” and it was performed at the Christmas Eve service at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon, WA.

Here’s an Mp3 of the Christmas Eve presentation:

I had setup several high end microphones to get a quality recording, but my tapes would not format for the recording. So as a last resort I set a CD recorder on top of the church organ and recorded off it’s internal mics. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a better recording, but it will give you an idea of the piece.

The “Gloria Challenge” came about as I was Googling “JS Bach” a couple weeks ago and read again how he composed so much music for the entire church year, often preparing a full scale piece in a single week. That has always fascinated me, so I thought I’d take a swing at it and see what I could do. It was a great devotional time for me, and a bit tense to get it all together.

Thank you SO MUCH to all the vocalists and musicians who took the challenge and stepped up to the plate.

The process was gruelling to do this in a week. I was pretty sick the evening of our performance and collapsed Christmas Day. If I did this on a regular basis I think it would go much smoother. But I was pleased with the finished product. From talking to chorus members most of them were pleased as well considering the time restraints. The choir got one three hour rehearsal – then a run-through before the performance.

Of course it’s all just a scholastic game if the piece doesn’t inspire the listener and fit appropriately into the service. From feedback I’ve received people were very moved by the piece. There was a thirty second standing ovation at the end of the piece. That’s a little rare for church services, especially a Christmas Eve service. I take it that people were very moved by the text and music.

For me, the piece brought alive the mystery and nobility of Christmas. It also brought some depth to the season for me as I was huddled in seclusion working on the piece instead of watching Christmas specials on tv.

The dedication for the Christmas Gloria is to Ruth Haines and the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church choir. I really enjoyed the couple years I spent with all of you as music director at MVPres. And thanks to Ruth Haines who always kept me organized even when I didn’t know it.

So yes, I’d say we did it.

Christmas Gloria Musicians:
Trumpet – Cindy Luna
French Horn – Amanda McDaniel
Tuba – Bruce Hanna
Oboe – Rebecca Wright
Flute – Linda Slone
Clarinet – Michelle Hanna
Harpsichord – Ruth Haines
Double Bass – Marilyn Parman
Timpani – Todd Parks

Christmas Gloria Instrument Scores

MP3 Gloria practice tracks for musicians and vocalists: