for mixed chorus, organ, and brass ensemble (2004)
- Premiere (this version): 26 September 2004 / Overture Center, Madison, WI Festival Choir of Madison / Festival Brass / Eric Townell
- Premiere (alternate version): 21 December 1994 Oscar Mayer Theater, Madison, Wisconsin Kitt Reuter Foss, mezzo / John Aley, trumpet / Madison Symphony Orchestra / Roland Johnson
- Instrumentation (this version): 4tpts.3tbns.tba-timp-vibr-organ-mezzo-SATB
- Duration: 15'
- Text: Laudate Deum, Laudate Eum (L)
This version of Joyful Music was commissioned for the Festival Choir of Madison to celebrate the grand opening of the Overture Center (see the image above) in Madison, Wisconsin. The performance was conducted by Music Director Eric Townell on 26 September 2004.
Joyful Music begins with a lengthy orchestral introduction, in which are heard the work's two main ideas: a lively and offbeat triplet theme heard in solo trumpet and vibraphone, and a more lyrical melody heard first in the flutes and the organ. A stretto passage closes this introduction, and the soprano enters above a rhythmically active background.
The text is a simple expression of joy drawn from the Psalms of the Latin Bible: Laudate Deum; laudate eum ('Praise God; praise him'). The solo voice begins with a forceful invocation of this text, but continues in a more intimate style in introducing the lyrical main theme. When the chorus enters, it picks up this lyrical theme in a simple canon between women and men, sung above a sustained pedal point in the strings. The counterpoint becomes increasingly complex, with the solo vocalist's lines arching above those of the chorus. In a sudden change of character, the men's voices introduce the lively music of the introduction. The mood becomes increasingly elated until a climactic Aleluia.
A second orchestral passage begins with muted trumpet and vibraphone. After this interlude creates a more subdued mood, a quartet of voices sings hushed but intense Aleluias beneath the soprano's more flowing phrases. Again, the chorus and orchestra build toward a climax; a feeling of exaltation remains until the work's closing Amen.
Commissioned by and Premiered by the Madison (WI) Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Symphony Chorus, Kitt-Reuter Foss, mezzo-soprano soloist, John Aley, trumpet soloist, conducted by Roland Johnson, Joyful Music was commissioned in honor of retiring Music Director Roland Johnson.
— Michael Allsen, 1993 / 2004
(Banner image: Overture Hall in Madison, Wisconsin)