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Northern Harmony & Village Harmony


From Pole to Pole

2005. Northern Harmony.

Liner notes follow after the track list, below.

  1. Kingdom • a shape-note song by Don Jamison
  2. Hayes Creek • a shape-note song by Toby Tenenbaum
  3. Bondage • a shape-note song by Timothy Swan
  4. Shaker Medley
  5. Zaspala lisi jagodo • Bulgarian, arr. P. Cuyler
  6. Junak vurvi • Bulgarian, arr. P. Bakalov
  7. Padna mugla dilberr • Bulgarian, arr. D. Naumov
  8. Kitka mi padna male • Bulgarian, arr. P. Cuyler
  9. Kavali svirjat • Bulgarian, arr. N. Kaufman
  10. Song of Wandering Aegnus • by Don Jamison
  11. Spring and Fall • by Don Jamison
  12. Inversnaid / Pied Beauty • by Don Jamison
  13. Elia Lrde • Traditional Georgian (Svaneti)
  14. Nanila • Traditional Georgian (Svaneti)
  15. Qanzav qipiane • Traditional Georgian (Svaneti)
  16. Zamtari • Traditional Georgian (Kakheti)
  17. Siqvarulman mogiqvana • Sacred Georgian
  18. Namgalo-arkhalalo • Georgian (Kakheti)
  19. Lake Forest • a shape-note song by Seth Houston
  20. Lewis • a shape-note song by Moria Smiley
  21. Pondicherry • a shape-note song by Chandler York
  22. Koloi ya Eliya • South Africa
  23. Rock of Ages • arr. Emily Miller and Northern Harmony

The Northern Harmony 2004 UK Tour Set

CD Liner Notes from ‘From Pole to Pole.’

Shape-note & Shaker music

Our typically eclectic program included a particularly large number of modern composed pieces. There were five contemporary shape-note songs: Kingdom by Burlington, Vermont composer Don Jamison; Hayes Creek by Toby Tenenbaum with text by Emily Bronte; Lake Forest, and early work by then-teenage Village Harmony composer Seth Houston; Lewis with words and music by Moria Smiley; and Pondicherry with words and music by Chandler York. We were also thrilled to sing a set of slightly more choral-sounding works by Jamison including The Song of Wandering Aengus for men's voices, with poetry by William Butler Yeats; and a group of settings of the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Spring and Fall in a wonderfully fluid 5/8 rhythm for women's voices, and the very dramatic poems Inversnaid and Pied Beauty.

The medley of Shaker songs were all collected at the Shaker community in Lebanon, New York.

Georgian Music

Elia Lrde, Nanila and Qansav qipiane are all from the mountainous region of Svaneti in north-western Georgia. The first is a prayer to St, Elia, the second is a lullaby and the third is a antiphonal round dance. Zamtari is a winter love song from eastern Georgia.

We learned all of these songs from Ensemble Zedashe, a young mixed-voice ensemble that has toured the US and hosted Village Harmony Summer Camps in their home town of Sighnaghi in Kakheti. (Zedashe’s CD and Songbook, The Raising of Lazare, are also available from NHPC. Please see our Georgian albums and songbook pages for details.)

Namgalo is a harvest song from Kakheti. Siqvarulman mogiqvana is a hymn from the collection of sacred music, Church and Feast Hymns: Gurian Mode published by the Anchiskhati choir (also available on the Georgian songbooks page).

Bulgarian Music

The Bulgarian songs are mostly choral arrangements of traditional village songs. Some of them have particularly charming texts. Zaspala lisi jagodo says:
Have you fallen asleep, strawberry?
I have not fallen asleep, ye cherry.
I am waiting for my love the lilac.
He went visiting at our best maid’s, to eat and drink.
The green swathe is their table, the yellow tulip is their liquor, and the red peony is their wine.

Kavali svirjat says:
Grozdena was sweeping in her yard and heard the kaval playing on the mountain.
“I will go and see who it is, mother.
If it is my first love, I will not return.”

South African Songs

Koloi ya eliya is a South African church chorale, adapted from a folk song about driving a car, which we learned from South African choir director and colleague Matlakala Bopape. It says:
I want to see the mountain with all the blessed angels;
when it moves it roars like Elijah’s car.

Rock of Ages

We had particular fun with Rock of Ages. The initial harmonization was made by our good friend, Village Harmony/Northern Harmony singer and leader Emily Miller, based on the singing of Robin and Linda Williams and Ralph Stanley. As we continued to play with it, it gradually metamorphosed into a more of a New Orleans jazz number. It was our encore piece for the whole last half of the tour.