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Album Title:A Southwest Christmas
Artist:Phoenix Bach Choir
Performers:Robert-Tree Cody, Frank Koonce
Label:Soundset Recordings
Performance Type:   Studio Recording
Genre:Classical, Holiday, Choral
Sub-Genre:Choral Music


Milagros de Navidad (The Miracle of Christmas) is a set of traditional carols for choir, guitar and percussion adapted by Ed Henderson for this recording from earlier settings for the Latin American ensemble Ancient Cultures. Henderson is a composer, arranger, conductor and guitarist from Vancouver, Canada.

Noel Sing We! was composed in 1993 for the Phoenix Bach Choir to perform with Native American Flutist Robert Tree Cody. The Native American flute is an evocative instrument whose history and use are traced back generations through oral history. Each flute is a personal, handcrafted instrument, the tuning and scale depending upon the particular choices of the maker. Though lacking the full chromaticism of the diatonic scale, it is similar in range, timbre and simplicity to that of medieval European wind instruments, which inspired Jon Washburn to investigate carol texts of the Middle Ages. The three ancient noel texts, which come from old English manuscripts, have been subjected to considerable alteration and fitted out with original tunes. Chant interludes, which separate the three noels, have a text drawn from the same sources, sung once in Latin and then again in English. The idea for the music was not to consciously write in either native or choral idioms but to simply follow the lead of the texts and let the "influences" fall as they may.

Hernando Franco was chapel master of the Mexico City Cathedral in the late 16th century. Born in Spain, his style reflects that of Spanish masters such as Morales and Victoria. The Magnificat secundi toni is one of the many found in an old Mexican manuscript now called the Franco Codex. It is sung in responsorial fashion typical of this period, with the verses alternating between plainsong and polyphony.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming is based on a traditional carol and a long-loved translation of the text by Theodore Baker. It was composed for the Phoenix Bach Choir in 1994 by Jon Washburn.

The Star was composed for the Vancouver Chamber Choir in 1979. It is a miniature Christmas scene centered on Carl Sandburg's magnificent poem Special Starlight, which is presented as a narration. The reading is accompanied by three "star" songs that seem to naturally fit the shifting moods of the poem.

The Phoenix Bach Choir's name honors the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750.) Weihnachtslieder, a set of small pieces and chorales is drawn from various larger Bach works appropriate to Christmas.