Written for the Gentlemen Singers of the Czech Republic, “In Europam Natus Est” (“He Is Born In Europe”) is an a cappella suite, about twenty three minutes in length, that brings together Christmas carols, liturgical chants and quotes from Chesnokov and Handel (plus some secret handshakes with Beethoven and Rachmaninoff) to form a mosaic of melodies first heard in Spain, Catalonia, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Burgundy, Provence, Sicily, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania and – as the suite moves from the edge of one continent, one time frame to another – Byzantium. Christmas medleys can be difficult: how do you keep such a frequently visited genre fresh? How do you avoid the predictable, episodic sense of, “Here’s a melody, and here’s the next one, and the next, and now we can tell we’re gearing up for a little change of mood owing to the completely obvious signals in the music….” But at the same time, a Christmas suite is not the time to get too iconoclastic, too clever-by-half. That’s not the right social contract with your audience.
With my suite I have created a narrative that starts with Latin chant for Christmas and ends with a Byzantine chant for Easter; and by frequently dividing the choir into a double choir, I am able to create an underlying antiphonal structure that gives form to the rapid interchange and intertwining of melodies as carols are compared on the basis of their theme, melody, or rhythm. The two excerpts from the suite included on this website take you from the opening Latin chant into the first antiphonal exchanges between the double choir, and then move towards the middle of the suite where the carols alternate more slowly, receiving more thorough development before we careen back into the 2nd set of antiphonal exchanges that start the second half of the piece. Some of these carols are world famous. Some are rarely heard outside their own land. Publishers are frightened of an a cappella piece that lasts this long, but there are places where one can pause and retune if one needs to, which the Gentlemen Singers have done on occasion, especially in early performances. The suite is intended to work whether or not the audience has translations of the texts. The piece is especially suitable for chamber choirs of at least eight voices.
My thanks to the following people for their help with the many languages that appear in this suite: Taylor Adams, Marcos Carreras, Jussi Chydenius, Ivars Cinkus, Dr. Florin Diacu, Rudy Heijdens, Joanna Kazik, Stijn Kolacny, Lukáš Merkl, Eva Mezo, Jean-Claude Minet, Zimfira Poloz, Martin Ptáček, Elfie Schau, and in particular Dr. Deborah Hatfield Moore.