June 22: Composers – Sanford, Your Steadfast Love, 2013

Jon CurtisSeason of the Day, SOTD - June

We begin another edition of the “Composers” series, sharing songs from living composers who have become favorites of Consort.  Sanford Dole joined Consort in 2012 and has been a valued soloist, associate director, composer, and of course most importantly – a tenor!  And, yes, Sanford is not only the answer to yesterday’s quiz, but is also the only member whose works we have sung.

A Bay Area native, Sanford, has been active in choral music since he sang in the cherub choir at church beginning at age three. At age 19 he joined the San Francisco Symphony Chorus later becoming that group’s assistant director for 10 years. He was a founding member of Chanticleer and was involved with the all-male choir’s first recordings, as well as national and international tours. Sanford directs North Star Vocal Artists (currently on hiatus), a Marin-based chamber choir dedicated to performing contemporary choral music. He has been the artistic director of the Palo Alto-based Bay Choral Guild since 2000 and music director at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco since 1993. Sanford holds degrees in composition and conducting from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Quiz of the Day
When did Consort begin having associate directors?
(Answer below)
Here is a description of “Your Steadfast Love, O Lord” from Sanford:
This anthem was composed in 2000 for St. Gregory’s Choir. I have been the music director at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco since 1993 and have composed many pieces for the choir over the years. All are unaccompanied, as our service is sung throughout—like in the Orthodox church—without any instruments. Part of my job, as cantor, is to chant the Psalms. One day the psalm appointed in the lectionary, was Psalm 36: 5-10. Who knows why, but that day I was struck with the beauty of those verses and decided to set them as an anthem. Every time we sing this piece I secretly enjoy the harmonic movement from the opening G major chord to B major on the fourth chord, which is unconventional.

Word painting is another hallmark of this piece. Listen how the sopranos and altos ascend on the text “…like the strong mountains,” only to descend right after on the text “…like the great deep.” A little later, the text “They feast on the rich abundance of your house,” is set as a chord stream of rich jazz harmonies.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens:
your faithfulness up to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your judgments are like the great deep:
you, Lord, save both people and beasts.
How precious is you steadfast love, O God:
mortals take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the rich abundance of your house:
you give them drink from the streams of your delights.
For with you is the well of life and in your light we see light.
Continue your loving kindness to those who know you:
and your justice to the true of heart.

Answer: Consort Chorale needed to change its rehearsal format quite early on, once Allan’s wife Anne graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary and took a job at a church on the coast of Oregon in 1994. So it was in our second year when we began having Allan come for monthly workshops, and took advantage of the many choral directors who were members, and were able to lead us in “note bashing” rehearsals each week, between the monthly workshops. It has been this unique pattern that has enabled Consort to continue, with our director Allan living out of the Bay Area.