New Choral Titles and Recordings

Over the past year and a half, I’ve contributed some new compositions and arrangements that have been published and recorded by The Wilds. While I’m not actively writing much music during this season of life, I’m glad that these pieces have found a publishing home and have enhanced the recordings listed below.

Choral Anthems

The Wilds has published three new anthems in the past couple years, highlighted below.

The Love of God

About 10 years ago, I dreamed up a new tune and an updated chorus for the classic hymn text by Frederick Lehman. It was toward the end of my time with the Pettit Team, and the piece didn’t quite find a home there. Well, then I was back to grad school and the piece got shoved in a drawer (figuratively).

Several years after grad school, I remembered this tune and fleshed it out into a full SATB choral setting (with flute and piano). I’m grateful to my friend Matt Taylor at the Wilds for publishing this anthem and for including it on his and Christy’s latest recording (more on that below).

Music, orchestration and full demo available from The Wilds.

Psalm of Praise

About 6 years ago, I decided to set Thomas Ken’s lesser-known text, “Awake, My Soul, and With the Sun” and incorporate elements of the Doxology as a chorus (Ken wrote it in conjunction with his morning and evening hymns).

Personally, I love that text, but publishers didn’t. One commented that it didn’t have much of a liturgical use but was more a “me and my Bible and a cup of coffee on the front porch” kind of text. So, in a drawer it went. (Yes, there’s a bit of a pattern here.)

A few years went by, and I asked my friend and coworker Eileen Berry to do something unusual. In a move I stole directly from Eric Whitacre, I asked Eileen to take a look at the anthem and the text and see if she’d be interested in composing a new lyric that fit the meter and feel of the tune.

She obliged, and Psalm of Praise was born. Loosely based on Psalm 147, this text is more accessible to 21st century audiences. While it’s certainly no Eric Whitacre Sleep, I think it will be useful for churches. Matt agreed to publish this as well. Stay tuned for future recording news.

Music, orchestration and full demo recording available from The Wilds.

You Are the Christ (SSAATTBB)

And now for something completely different: a divisi a cappella arrangement of a beloved Wilds song, complete with (one instance of) vocal percussion!

A few years ago, Matt approached me and several other arrangers, looking for complex a cappella arrangements of well-known Wilds songs, for a 50th anniversary recording. One of the two I set was You Are the Christ. I went for a big, atmospheric sound, one in the neighborhood of Voctave or some of Voces8’s modern work (…or something like that).

Personally, I love a cappella and love writing for it. I just know it doesn’t always sell well unless you’re Eric Whitacre (and we’ve already established I’m not). So writing these for a specific album use was a lot of fun for me.

Look, you and I both know this isn’t exactly average fare for your average church choir, but it sure is fun! The Wilds published the arrangement, so interested advanced ensembles can find it at JW Pepper.

Recordings

I’ve had music included on two recent releases from The Wilds Music, as well.

Jesus Is Better

Matt and Christy recorded a duet album with choral/orchestral backing, titled Jesus Is Better. They included “The Love of God” as a solo by Matt, and I think it turned out lovely…even if I wrote the solo version with Christy’s voice in mind!

Also included here is my other a cappella arrangement, which got delayed and left off the 50th anniversary album. My men’s a cappella arrangement of “It’s Still the Cross” should be a lot of fun if you’re into modern a cappella music. It has a sound you might not be expecting from the Wilds.

Recording available from The Wilds directly, or buy on Amazon.

Giving Him the Glory

This is the 50th anniversary a cappella album I mentioned earlier. With arrangements from I think 6 or more contributors, the styles here vary widely. Some tracks are pretty accessible church choir fare. Others are grand, majestic, sweeping sounds. Some pull in ideas and harmonies from modern concert music.

And then there’s mine. My setting of You Are the Christ is more in the vein of modern a cappella. To be honest, I thought that’s what all the arrangers were doing, but I thought wrong :-).

Stay Tuned for Other Stuff

I know this site has seemed a little abandoned lately. That’s largely because I’m not writing or arranging right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m not doing interesting stuff! I’ll be gradually adjusting this space to account for the other musical (and perhaps even nonmusical?) things I’m spending my time on these days, so stay tuned if you’re curious.

As a preview: Below is a Beckenhorst video demo I made with my friend Nikki Eoute along with Dan Forrest and Joanna Mulfinger.

Many who know me as a composer don’t know that I sing, so if you’ve made it this far in this post and didn’t know: surprise! I sing. And I’ve been doing more of it in 2020.

More on that later on.

Reflections on Sing! 2019

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I’ve just returned home from Sing! 2019 in Nashville. It was a great conference, with plenty of reconnecting with old friends as well as making connections with new ones. I spent a fair bit of time at the Beckenhorst Press booth, where I met dozens of choir directors and members—some of whom may be visiting my site for the first time.

If that’s you, welcome! Say hello in the comments, and browse my published choral music or check out my Wexford Carol, which I’m selling myself! (Christmas will be here soon, of course.)

Great to see old friends James and Rachel Pitts, Jonathan Albright, Kevin and Isetta Moses, and others. The connections formed in ministry years ago are deep and lasting, and any time we can reconnect is a sweet one.

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I also spent time with “less-old” friends Andrew Huish and Trevor Manor. Andrew, Trevor, and I enjoyed some shenanigans at the Beckenhorst booth and at various other locations around Nashville.

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Wednesday morning after a small bit of networking and a large bit of general confusion (“General Confusion” is my personal subtitle for the conference name), Andrew, Trevor, and I slipped in to a session where Matt Boswell and Matt Papa were discussing and singing some of their hymns. It was a great session!

Modern hymns need to work well in a variety of contexts. If a song can’t hold up without serious production values, it won’t have the kind of universality that hymns need to have. The Boswell/Papa hymns we sang in this session worked beautifully with just a piano and voices. They had a one-two punch of quality and versatility that I think will help them endure.

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Available Now: Wexford Carol

It’s nearly Christmas again! Just 10 months ago Rivertree Singers graciously premiered my new setting of Wexford Carol. I’m grateful to a number of choral conductors and church musicians who have purchased the score from me directly for use this Christmas season. If you’d like to do the same, please contact me. I’m currently selling this anthem in e-print format at $1.75 per license, but through the end of 2018 I’m discounting it to $1.50! Order your copies today.

Composing Milestones!

A big thank you to all those who support Hoelscher Music by purchasing and using my compositions and arrangements in worship services and concerts! Still, Still, Still is my best-selling anthem, and it crossed the 20,000-copies-sold mark in 2016. Total lifetime sales of all anthems hit 70,000 this year, too. These numbers might be small potatoes for some, but they are significant to me! So let me say once again, thank you for supporting me and my music. I’m grateful!

Musical Year in Review

I know, I’m about 10 days too late for this sort of post, but it’s been a relatively quiet year in this space, and I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up to. 2016 was an incredibly exciting year, even if it wasn’t quite as compositionally productive.

January–March

In the first 3 months of the year I finished up last details on two choral anthems, Go Up! and Mercy, and placed Perfect Peace with Lorenz. Rivertree Singers (the Greenville community chorus I sing with) returned to the 2016 ACDA Southern Division conference  in Chattanooga, invited to sing in the conference’s worship event/ecumenical service. We auditioned into the 2014 conference, and it was a special honor to be invited to the 2016 event, since choirs are accepted by audition only once per four years. The combined choir for this event premiered a commissioned anthem by Howard Helvey, who I met in real life at the conference. Many of us enjoyed seeing the sights of Chattanooga in conjunction with this concert. It’s a pretty cool town! Also during this season, my wife and I announced that we were expecting our first child!

April–June

After the Chattanooga ACDA trip, Rivertree Singers began preparing for the 2016 Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC. We have participated in the Spotlight on Choral Music series for several years and enjoyed doing so again this summer. We premiered Peter Anglea’s new piece, The Lord’s Prayer, in this concert. Jen and I snuck in a babymoon at the end of this trip down in Hilton Head and made some wonderful memories.

Additionally, the choir’s leadership turned its focus toward our summer festival, the southeast USA premiere of Dan Forrest’s major work, Jubilate Deo. We realized quickly that, to make our performance successful, we needed to create rehearsal and learning aids for the festival singers. The composer was on board with this idea, and we ended up creating full-length score videos with studio-recorded vocals atop digital orchestra realizations. I supplied the bass and tenor tracks, and Nikki Eoute supplied alto and soprano. This was an incredibly rewarding project to undertake: Nikki and I had early access to a marvelous new choral/orchestral work, and the recordings and videos continue to aid singers around the world in learning this worthy work.

Of course, those videos were merely preparatory—the festival itself was still to come, and it was, we believe, a success. We ended up with 190 singers (that’s 150 voices joining with our choir) and a full orchestra, and the performance was the most memorable concert I’ve sung in. The entire concert is available on YouTube for your edification and enjoyment.

July–September

In July I placed Psalm 113 with Shawnee Press. This anthem has bounced around a few times due to odd circumstances, and I’m thrilled it will finally get out there for the church to see and use. Perfect Peace was released in August as a (very early) Spring 2017 anthem. Also in August I got another singing gig, this time a little less high-falutin’: I was a member of the Viking horde on the latest Patch the Pirate CD, Operation Arctic. This was different for me, but a fun bit of singing nonetheless. Also during this season I wrote an anthem with lyricist Michael Pope that’s still looking for a publisher. His text is moving and powerful, and I can’t wait to share it with you soon. Lots of baby prep happened this season, too. Lots and lots, folks :-).

October–December

Our firstborn arrived in early October, which was a wonderful, life-changing event. We enjoyed visits from family and kind meals provided by families at our church. This month was consumed with trying to figure out parenthood.

Just days after the birth of our son, we learned that my childhood piano teacher and family friend, Becky Wheeler, had passed away from cancer. Becky was deeply comforted by singing towards the end of her life, and several of us that had practically grown up in her home as her son’s friends met and sang hymns for her several weeks before her passing. I’d just received Perfect Peace back from the publisher and sang this for her as well. She took great comfort in this music, and I sang it (quite tearfully) at her funeral. Through this very sad circumstance I was struck with the power and effectiveness that good sacred music can have.

November: I’m a new dad and I have to be honest, I don’t remember this month. There was turkey towards the end?

December brought one last singing gig, with a Presbyterian church in town. Then Rivertree Singers closed out the year with a Christmas Evensong, performed at two venues here in Greenville. It was an enjoyable and well-received concert, and you might see some selections up on YouTube sometime in 2017.

Housekeeping

I’ve moved my website to my own domain, HoelscherMusic.com. For the handful of folks who have this site bookmarked (aka “my mom”), please update accordingly. The old URL (hoelschermusic.wordpress.com) will redirect to the new for some time.

I’ll post again in the near future about some recent vocal recording opportunities and the upcoming Rivertree Singers & Friends choral festival. Stay tuned!

Go Up!

cover-large_fileGo up to a high mountain
and shout aloud the good news!
Lift up your voices with strength and do not fear,
O heralds of the good news!

Introducing a new general anthem for 2016! Go Up! is a scripture song with some refreshing musical ideas. When the folks at Alfred/Jubilate first asked for a Scripture setting from Isaiah 40, I was intrigued–but nervous,too! There are many beautiful, meaningful textual strands in this chapter, but in some ways the ideas seem disparate. I was nervous about finding a way to make a cohesive piece of music out of them. But I’m a firm believer in the need for more Scripture songs, so I jumped in. I’m pleased with the results, and because the text covers a variety of topics and moods, the music does some interesting things. The main theme is syncopated and joyful, evoking hints of old spiritual style, while the contrasting sections are more lyrical and pastoral. When the main theme returns for the final time, there’s opportunity for a soulful solo. This anthem is scored for SATB choir and piano with optional S/T solo. It’s available now from Alfred Music/Jubilate Music. Listen below (I love the solo at the end!)

new anthems for Easter

10_5049SFTwo new Easter anthems to tell you about! Consider these choral anthems for Easter and Holy Week. First, The Bitter Cup (SoundForth/Lorenz – click to listen) is a beautiful, somber anthem with a text by Duane Nichols that explores the breadth of emotions experienced by Christ and his followers as Christ drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath, suffered dreadful pain, and was laid in a somber tomb, all in our stead. The text then turns: “But sin could not defeat its foe, nor death retain its prey. Our Lord, the Living One, assumed his rightful seat; exalted to His Father’s side, redemption now complete.” This anthem is scored for SATB choir and piano, with optional cello and guitar, and it received Editors’ Choice from J.W. Pepper. It would work well for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or as a part of a multi-anthem Easter Sunday. Listen, see a sample, and purchase here.

Second, Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today (Beckenhorst) is a fresh take on a classic Easter hymn. I’ve based this anthem on the traditional tune EASTER HYMN: the piece alternates between syncopated snippets of EASTER HYMN and newly composed phrases. Scored for SATB choir, keyboard, and trumpet solo, this anthem is a regal, festive addition to your Easter service. Click on the SoundCloud banner to listen. (This piece doesn’t appear on the publisher’s website quite yet, so for now, here’s the product page on J.W. Pepper.)

July 2015 update

Well hello, 00129786Internet! It’s been a while. Life stuff, day-job stuff, and house stuff (not to mention stuff stuff) have kept me pretty busy, but I have some awesome first-half-of-2015 updates to share with you. First, 2 new choral pieces! Both were named Editors’ Choice by J. W. Pepper and have been/will be included in some larger summer reading sessions. Benediction of Hope is published by Hal Leonard/Brookfield Press, and O, For a Closer Walk with God (Oh Fire of God) is out now through Alfred Sacred. Keep reading for more info on these pieces!

First, Hal Leonard/Brookfield Press published “Benediction of Hope,” an unaccompanied choral setting of my paraphrase of Romans 15:13. The piece is the perfect end to a worship service or sacred concert. Listen to an exquisite demo recording here.

Second, Alfred Sacred published my arrangement of “O, For a Closer Walk with God (Oh Fire of God)”, which is a Getty/Townend reimagining of William Cowper’s hymn text. Parts are available for guitar00-44577, bass, and violin, though the arrangement works fine with just piano. Getty and Townend wrote this song a while ago, but just recently reworked it and added a chorus. This setting is the first published that uses that new chorus, “Oh Fire of God.” My arrangement is in the spirit of the recorded version on The Greengrass Sessions. You can listen to this arrangement on JW Pepper.

Last bit of news for now: “The Bitter Cup” is my first collaboration with a living lyricist (Duane Nichols), and The Wilds recorded the piece for their big summer recording. The recording is available now (Amazon and iTunes), and the choral music will be published by Lorenz for Spring 2016.

Two new recordings!

cd_indychoircd_be_merryI recently received two recordings in the mail that included my setting of Still, Still, Still. One is from the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, Eric Stark directing. “Still” won their 2012 Christmas Carol Competition, and they were kind to include the piece on this recording. It’s a well-rounded recording with something for everyone. The choir has some 160 voices and has a strong, warm sound. Their performance of my piece is powerful! The CD is available from the choir’s store here, and a digital download is available through Amazon. The other recording, Be Merry!, is from the Choirs of All Saints Northampton and the Northampton Bach Choir, Lee Dunleavy conducting. It’s an all-British recording of all American composers, with that softer, clearer tone of a mixed choir with boy sopranos. Also a lovely sound! This recording may be purchased here. I’m quite thrilled to hear my music being sung and recorded by groups of this caliber! Thanks to all involved in both!

The Indianapolis recording also includes a piece by my friend Brian Büda, and the Northampton disc includes pieces by Peter Anglea, Craig Courtney, and Dan Forrest.