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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The story about the Christmas Gloria is included as side comments in the video. In 2007 I was music director for a Presbyterian church. I had just signed a contract to join Cirque du Soleil in China and my last church service at the church was Christmas Eve 2007. Wanting to write a special piece for the choir and congregation at my last church service with them, I set out to decide what that would be. A Christmas song of course, but what would that be?
Even as a youth I had always marveled at Johann Sebastian Bach and the fact that he would often write full chorus works in a single week that would then be performed at the following week’s church service. Having always wanted to know what that experience was like, I “killed two birds with one stone” by writing a Christmas song for the church that was also a full chorale work with chamber ensemble that was composed in a single week.
This video is the live recording of my Christmas Gloria from that 2007 Christmas Eve service. I had setup a fairly large recording setup with 8 microphones but something went wrong at the last minute and the setup didn’t work. I don’t remember what the problem was, something with the ADAT recorders (this was back in 2007) being the wrong format for digital tapes or something like that.
Someone from the congregation put a little recorder on top of the organ to record the performance. At the time I didn’t see the point of that since nothing would be useable unless it was a professional recording. But now I’m so thankful they did that. It’s not a good recording but it’s the only recording I have of this chamber chorale work.
I was also able to find an old copy of the conductor score and I included that in the video. At the time it was my first time using the notation software Sibelius and I felt fortune just to output readable music. The conductor’s score has many elements that I would never do today like instruments in concert keys, slur phrasing markings that look pretty but are impractical for the players to play and a non-standard spacing of measures throughout the score.
It was a magical night when the singers and musicians played this music. Many of my friends from local theater shows joined to be part of the chorus for this piece. It was a musical send-off for me as I left my good friends in the Pacific Northwest USA and left for a new life in China. I ended up living in China for four years while working for Cirque du Soleil so this was indeed my last performance in the United States for many years.
Story in the video about writing and orchestrating this choral and chamber ensemble work in one week for performance at the Christmas Eve church service. A tribute to J.S. Bach, who often wrote large choral musical works for weekly church services, and the traditional text of “Soli Deo Gloria”.
(Latin to English translation)
Soli Deo gloria
Glory to God alone
O Lord God
Deus Pater omnipotens
God the Father Almighty
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe
The only begotten Son, Jesus Christ
O Lord God
Lamb of God
Son of the Father
Gloria in excelsis Deo
Glory be to God in the highest
Et in terra pax hominibus
Peace on earth to men
Et in terra pax bonae voluntatis
Peace on earth to men of good will
We praise you
We adore you
We glorify you
Soli Deo Gloria
Glory to God alone
Christmas Gloria © 2007 Conrad Askland (ASCAP)