June 13: Black Composers – Hogan, 2017

Jon CurtisSeason of the Day, SOTD - June

Moses Hogan is the most prolific black composer in our series. He has published over 70 arrangements of spirituals, so it is fitting that we include two of his pieces in today’s email. You’ve already heard his arrangement of “Hear My Prayer” in several previous “Season of the Day” emails. Later we will also be sharing performances of his “The Battle of Jericho.” Today we will hear “Elijah Rock” and “Music Down in My Soul.”

Born in New Orleans, Hogan lived with five siblings and his parents, who gave their children a passion for music. He was an accomplished pianist by the age of nine. Here is a link to his Wikipedia page.

Elijah Rock

As with many spirituals, “Elijah Rock” was handed down through generations and was originally arranged by Jester Hairston in the 1960s.  Jon Curtis sang it with Jester in the mid-1980s at a workshop in Medford, Oregon.  Moses Hogan was a student of Hairston and released this arrangement in 1994.

Elijah Rock.
Come on sister help me to pray
tell me my Lord don’t pass this way.
Satan nothin’ but a snake in the grass.
He’s a conjur, he’s a liar.
Hallelujah Lord.
If I could I surely would
stand on the rock where Moses stood.
I’m comin’ up Lord.

Music Down in My Soul

Program notes from Opus 26, 2019:

Written to be performed at the sixth World Symposium for Choral Music, held in Minneapolis in 2002, the piece is dedicated to Mary Alice Stollak and the University of Michigan’s Children’s Choir, who were featured performers at that event. The piece was later re-done for mixed chorus and it is that version you will hear in today’s concert. It is an arrangement of the old African-American spiritual of the same name by the late Moses Hogan. An extraordinarily gifted arranger and conductor working out of New Orleans, Moses Hogan died from brain cancer in 2003, just short of his 45th birthday. The piece shows his typical trait of dividing vocal sections into multiple parts so that instead of the usual 4-part chorus, this piece at times requires seven-part harmony. Its joie de vivre and rhythmic vitality makes a fitting close to our program of music celebrating our love of singing.

I hear Music in the air. I can feel it in the air;
There must be a God somewhere.
Over my head, I hear music in the air;
There must be a God somewhere.
Over my head I feel singing in the air;
There must be a God somewhere.
I got this music down in my soul
And it fills my heart with the joy of the Lord.
I’ve got joy everlasting.
I’ve got peace everlasting.
I’ve got love everlasting.
I’ve got Love in my heart, Oh yes!