Jubilate Deo

Choral Spectacular 2023!
April 22 &23, 2023

Jubilate Deo
Dan Forrest

Seven different languages and a variety of musical influences comprise Dan Forrest’s imaginative interpretation of Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.” (King James Version). Scored for chorus, orchestra, and soprano and alto soloists, Jubilate Deo often incorporates elements of the musical styles of the cultures represented by the various languages Forrest employs. The first movement, entitled “Jubilate Deo,” sets forth the entirety of Psalm 100 in Latin, accompanied by hard-hitting syncopated rhythms in the orchestra. An extended chorale-like middle section provides some relief from the driving rhythms, only to have them return at the end for an exciting climax to the movement. (These elements return in the final movement, creating savory musical bookends.)

The dreamlike second movement, “Ve adthdor vador” (“From age to age”—the last line of the psalm), is sung in both Hebrew and Arabic and employs modes and harmonies reminiscent of Middle Eastern music. Much of the movement uses a pedal point on the note G. Like the first movement, a middle section provides contrast to the drone effect of the pedal point.

The third movement is entitled “Ta cao chang de yang” (“The sheep of his pasture”) and is entirely in Mandarin Chinese. The melodies and harmonies in this lovely slow movement are based on the traditional C major diatonic scale (just the white keys of the piano), yielding rich cluster-chords and poignant dissonances, as the soloist and choir echo each other’s melodic lines.

Movement IV (“Ngokujabula!”) is mostly in the Zulu language and is translated “With great rejoicing!” It features musical elements common to much   African music—short, repeated melodic phrases and rhythmic figures—while the percussion section enhances the movement with the sounds of the ubiquitous African drums and xylophones. The slow fifth movement is in Spanish (“Bendecid su nombre”—“Bless his name”) and, as in the third movement, we hear an enchanting melody by the solo soprano supported by lush harmonies in the choir and orchestra.

Movement VI is entitled “Song of the Earth,” and has a lyric of one word only—“Alleluia,” with the choir singing the syllable “Ah” for most of it. This movement was inspired in part by a line from Psalm 96: “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (New International Version). Perhaps another key to the meaning of this movement can be found in the composer’s instructions to the choir to sing “with wonder.” The final “Alleluia” leads without a break to the seventh and final movement: “ . . . Omnis Terra!” (“Shout for joy, all the earth!”). Here the choir makes “a joyful noise unto the Lord” in Latin, English and Zulu, accompanied by the orchestra as it adds to the excitement with its insistent syncopated 16th notes. The middle section recalls the African “Ngokujabula!” of the fourth movement, followed by a brief “Alleluia” section, with a crescendo to a rousing climax on the word “Jubilate!”

-Dr. Ted Lucas

Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest has been described as having “an undoubted gift for writing beautiful music….that is truly magical” (NY Concert Review), with works hailed as “magnificent, very cleverly constructed sound sculpture” (Classical Voice), and  “superb writing…full of spine-tingling moments” (Salt Lake Tribune). His music has sold millions of copies, has received numerous awards and distinctions, and has become well established in the repertoire of choirs around the world via festivals, recordings, radio/TV broadcasts, and premieres in prominent international venues.

Dan’s work ranges from small choral works to instrumental solo works, wind ensemble works, and extended multi-movement works for chorus and orchestra. His Requiem for the Living (2013) and Jubilate Deo (2016) have become standard choral/orchestral repertoire for ensembles around the world, and his more recent major works LUX: The Dawn From On High (2018) and the breath of life (2020) have also received critical acclaim.

Dan holds a doctorate in composition and a master’s degree in piano performance, and served for several years as a professor and department head (music theory and composition) in higher education. He currently serves as Editor at Beckenhorst Press, Chair of the American Choral Director’s Association Composition Initiatives Committee, and Artist-In-Residence at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church (Greenville, SC).