06 December 2011

The Star of Bethlehem/Der Stern von Bethlehem

Tonight is my choral society's big winter concert; in fact I will need to go get ready shortly because we get to rehearse at 5:30, then cram down a box lunch of sandwiches and chips before the concert at 8 pm.  We're going to be singing the "Star of Bethlehem" by Josef Rheinberger in the original German.  Normally that wouldn't present a huge challenge because I like languages and am pretty good at hearing the different nuances in pronunciation (and I foolishly expect other musicians to be able to do the same since good singing requires a significant portion of good hearing as well).  This piece has been a bit more challenging than I expected, though, because there are several jumps in octaves and tempo throughout the soprano line, and often there don't seem to be enough notes to go with German syllables, which has been stressing everyone out, not just sopranos.  I sometimes think I could either do the music, or do the German--both at the same time has proven to be considerably harder in this particular arrangement of music.

Still, as it has gotten more familiar most of us have gotten better at it; in fact, our last rehearsal Saturday went surprisingly well.  In addition, I've now gotten to that point in the preparations for any show where the repertoire plays on a never-ending tape loop throughout my brain cells, whether I want it to or not, and no doubt will continue to do so for at least another week or two, long after the concert is finished.

In honor of tonight's concert, I thought I'd offer up one of the movements for your enjoyment.  Our director told us that Josef Rheinberger primarily composed for organ and that he was a professor of organ and composition at a conservatory in Munich.  He did write a few choral pieces, however, one of which we'll perform tonight--in German it's called "Der Stern von Bethlehem."  The following video is of the opening movement from the piece.  Please note that term "Erwartung" which flashes across the screen before the music actually starts is German for "expectation."


  1. Wishing you well with the singing and the German. You are brave!!
    Your friends at Celtic Trim.