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James Caldwell High School Madrigal Singers to open for Radio City Rockettes

By CAROLYNE VOLPE CURLEY

November 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM

West Caldwell, NJ -   On Wednesday, December 12th, James Caldwell High School Madrigal Singers will have the privilege of opening for the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  

Christine Corliss, from the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education explained, “This is really exciting news!  They’ll be part of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

The highly selective acapella group is made up of students in ninth to twelfth grades who were selected by their Choral Director, Elsie Timpson, back in September.  The singers perform selections from the 15th Century Renaissance era through the Classical / Romantic musical period but they also sing modern music as well.

The choral group is comprised of students Madeline Caracappa, Brendan Cullinane, Kyle Elphick, Anna Rizzotti, Louis Mollet, Samantha Chang, Jacob Ploch, John Franklin, Nicole Garamella, John Franek, Jenna DeVincenzo, Eileen Funnell, Jessica Bracamonte, Kathryn Duca, Gregory Mercado, Regina Peters, Lindsey Enchelmaier, Natalie Tietjen,  Julie Jochem, Julie Eller and Brian Knight.

Radio City extended the invitation to James Caldwell High School’s Madrigal Group to perform at their Spectacular.  “I received an invitation addressed to the JCHS Madrigal Singers,” said Choral Director Elsie Timpson. “I really don’t know who generated the invitation, but we are very excited to be performing at the show.”

Corliss continued, “They will be at the evening performance.  The students will be singing a five-minute acapella medley of bell songs, including “Ding-a-Ding-a-Ding”, “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and, of course, “Jingle Bells.”

Ding-a-Ding-a-Ding” is a modern piece composed by Greg Gilpin.  Four part Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB) harmonies layer their vocal parts to create a “sound experience” blending together into the effect of ringing bells.

The lyrics are:
“Merrily on high, hear the bells ring. Merrily, the heavens sing. Merrily on high, hear the bells ring. O'er the earth, they ding dong ding."

The very well known “Ding Dong Merrily on High” is a Renaissance piece;  its melody was composed by the 16th Century French Monk and dance musician, Jehan Tabourot.  The Christmas Carol lyrics were later added by English composer and Anglican Priest,  George Ratcliffe Woodward, when he published them in 1924.

The lyrics for the Renaissance Christmas Carol are:
“Ding dong! merrily on high
In heav'n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with Angel singing.

Gloria,
Hosanna in excelsis!

E'en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And "Io, io, io!"
By priest and people sungen.

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.”

The beauty of the piece comes through clearly in the elongated notes of the Gloria sung over 6 measures, followed swiftly by “Hosanna in excelsis!”

“Jingle Bells” is one of the best known songs in the world.  It was written by Boston composer,  James Lord Pierpont,  and published in 1857 under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh."

Pierpont’s original lyrics are as follows:
“"Dashing thro’ the snow,
In a one-horse open sleigh,
O’er the hills we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob tail ring,
Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song to night.

Jingle bells, Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what joy it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what joy it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago,
I thought I’d take a ride,
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank;
Misfortune seemed his lot,
He got into a drifted bank,
And we, we got upsot.

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls to night
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob tailed bay
Two forty as his speed.
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead."

The original melody was much more Classically complex at the time the song was published;  it eventually became the simplified tune that everyone enjoys singing even today.   The Madrigal Group will be performing Kirby Shaw’s jazzy arrangement of the piece.  In this particular version, the Bass section gets to shine in verse 2.

This year’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular will center on the history of the Rockettes dancing group.  Corliss continued, “This year the theme of the Christmas show is  ‘The Rockettes Celebration’ which celebrates 85 years of dance.  It will be featuring dazzling dance numbers, beloved favorites, special effects and a new showcase featuring the Rockettes' most extraordinary costumes through the years.”

For more information:

Radio City Music Hall
1260 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10020
212-247-4777
Website:  www.radiocity.com/
Rockettes:  http://www.rockettes.com/
Radio City Christmas Spectacular:  http://www.radiocitychristmas.com/newyork.html

James Caldwell High School
265 Westville Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ
973-228-6981
Website:  www.cwcboe.org/jchs

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