A Singer’s Dozen — Joel

Joel Longhurst has sung in Utah Chamber Artists for over 20 years, and his playlist is heavily influenced by repertoire he has performed with UCA. When he’s not singing with Utah Chamber Artists, he works as an elementary school Speech Language Pathologist, helping students improve their speech and language skills.

You can listen to Joel’s list on Spotify HERE.

  1. Ola Gjeilo: The Ground, “Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua”
    This movement from Sunrise Mass by contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo is a favorite of both my wife and me. To me it symbolizes the beginning of a new day with endless potential, a sunrise that connects earth and heaven. The text is borrowed from the Sanctus movement of the mass: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
  2. Maurice Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin – 1. Prelude
    One of the treats of being in Utah Chamber Artists is listening to our wonderful orchestra up close. This movement from Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin is one of my all-time favorites that our orchestra has played. Ravel’s orchestration displays a vivid palette of tonal colors for the listener to enjoy.
  3. Frank Martin: Mass for Double Choir – Agnus Dei
    The Frank Martin Mass for Double Choir is one of the most intricate and beautiful pieces I have ever sung. In this movement, I love how the offbeat rhythms of the Choir 1 chant weave through the more steady rhythms sung by Choir 2.
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
    This piece is magical to me, perhaps in part because it employs a modal melody, which my brain apparently can’t get enough of. Besides that, it highlights the tremendous range of expression that string instruments are capable of producing.
  5. Louis Vierne: Messe Solennelle, Op. 16 – Kyrie (arr. for organ)
    My father recorded an album of French Romantic-era organ pieces in the mid 1990s. This album influenced me to explore the world of classical music more than I had up to that point in my life, and this adaptation for organ of a work by Vierne convinced me that 32-foot organ pipes can – in multiple meanings of the term – equate to heavy metal!
  6. Michael Praetorius: Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming)
    When I was an undergraduate student and singing in a university choir, I attended a concert by the all-male ensemble Chanticleer. The richness and vibrancy of their performance confirmed to me that, yes, ensemble singing really IS cool! I bought their Christmas CD after the concert and quickly fell in love with the German Christmas carol “Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen” (known in English as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”). There are many fine recorded renditions of this carol, but I chose the Chanticleer performance for this list because it is the one I first fell in love with many years ago.
  7. arr. Barlow Bradford: Still, Still, Still
    Barlow Bradford’s arrangement of “Still, Still, Still” evokes the magical feeling of relaxing in a cozy, warm home while fluffy snowflakes fall silently outside.
  8. Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel
    When our son was born, we hired a woman who was certified as both a doula and a music therapist to help make the experience as comfortable and peaceful as possible. She had us choose relaxing music from her playlists to use as background during the birth. Being familiar with Arvo Pärt (see UCA’s YouTube video of Magnificat), we naturally had to listen to Spiegel im Spiegel (German for “mirror in the mirror”) when we saw it on one of her lists. Later on, it became a lullaby of sorts that we would play for our baby boy to help him relax and sleep. I will always think of this as one of his special pieces.
  9. Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night of the Soul
    In contrast to peaceful, bright sunrises, each of us also experiences dark nights at various times in our lives. This setting for choir and string quartet paraphrases a poem by Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. In it the narrator depicts a late-night rendevous with a lover, which serves as a metaphor for leaving cares of the world behind and reconciling one’s soul, intimately, with God. UCA performed this work in one of our Cathedral Collage concerts accompanied by accomplished guest ensemble, the Fry Street Quartet.
  10. Ēriks Ešenvalds: Passion and Resurrection – Part 3
    One of the most evocative musical portrayals of the Passion and Resurrection story is this work by Ēriks Ešenvalds. It became personal for me when we were rehearsing it for one of our Cathedral Collage concerts. I had just arrived late for our rehearsal at the Cathedral of the Madeleine and was sitting in the back half of the buidling while soprano Michelle Dean Whitlock (currently on the UCA roster) was singing one of her solos portraying Mary Magdalene. Depicting the moment when Mary sees the resurrected Christ, she sang, “Rabboni, Rabboni!” with her eyes fixed toward the back of the hall, and then walked with increasing speed down the center aisle to greet him. Not only did this take me completely by surprise, as it was a concert performance and not a staged production, but it felt completely real to me. At that moment I was a bystander to this most significant event, and I saw and felt Mary’s amazed reaction.
  11. Morten Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna – Introitus
    UCA performed the Lux Aeterna several years ago in a Winter concert, which, in my mind, is the perfect time of year for music that leads us from darkness to light.
  12. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Sicut cervus (Psalm 42:2)
    Over the past twenty years, I have discovered several choirs and vocal ensembles from around the country as well as other parts of the world, and New York Polyphony is one of my favorite discoveries. This male quartet specializes in Renaissance-era repertoire. In many ways they are the antithesis of the electronic pop fare we hear so much of these days, which has earned them the tongue-in-cheek designation of “Medieval Boy Band.” It’s astounding what four unaccompanied voices in a resonant space can do! Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus (text from Psalm 42) has also been in UCA’s repertoire in years past.
  13. Gabriel Fauré: Requiem, Op. 48 – In paradisum
    I can’t think of a better send-off than the In Paradisum movement of the Fauré Requiem: “May the Angels lead you into paradise. May the martyrs receive you at your coming, and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem. May the choir of Angels receive you, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have everlasting rest.”

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