Spring: The Shining River

A wide range of American musical styles will delight listeners--everything from Broadway, to pop, to gospel, to country, to classical, to folk. The beloved song "Ol' Man River" from Kern and Hammerstein's classic 1927 musical Show Boat is on the program, and two pop classics--Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" and Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"--will make their appearances in stunning choral arrangements. Robert Lowry's well-known Civil War-era gospel hymn tune beginning "Shall we gather at the river" (and including the line which gave these concerts their title--"Soon we'll reach the shining river") will be there, both in its original form and as arranged by 20th-century master Aaron Copland.

The traditional country gospel tune "Down in the Valley to Pray" (heard in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou) will be heard in an arrangement by QVS Music Director Nym Cooke, and a "new old" gospel piece, "River in Judea," composed quite recently but in a traditional style, will lift listeners' hearts. Also included is the one-of-a-kind gospel tune "Down by the Riverside," in a rip-roaring arrangement by John Rutter. Wait 'til you hear QVS accompanist Brooks Milgate burn up the keys on this one!

There will be all kinds of folk music on the program: African-American ("Deep River"), shape-note ("New Jordan"), just plain classic ("Shenandoah"). Straddling the gap (sometimes not much of a gap) between religious and folk are the Mennonite hymn "Going Down the Valley," with an inspiring new text by Susan Cooper and a string bass line "plucked" by the chorus's bass singers, and the lovely Shaker tune "In Yonders Valley," in another arrangement by Nym Cooke. One folk tune special to this immediate area is a version of the well-known "Red River Valley" ("From this valley they say you are going"), with a text newly written in the 1930s by a resident of another valley--the Swift River Valley--to mourn the passing of the towns Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott with the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir.


The Quinebaug Valley Singers are ready to take you "Home for Christmas" with their annual seasonal concert. This year's offerings center on mostly familiar and popular fare, with everything from "White Christmas" to some of John Rutter's most beloved compositions to a hilarious arrangement of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." And there will be some unfamiliar but beautiful music as well, including two Christmas songs from Denmark that are favorites with QVS Music Director Nym Cooke.