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!
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.
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!
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.
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 :-).
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.
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!
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!)
Two 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.)
Well hello, Internet! 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 guitar, 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.
I 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.