A Renaissance Noel arranged by Catherine McMichael
Scored for Piccolo (also doubling on C Flute) and 3 C Flutes (or Piccolo (doubling on C Flute), 2 C Flutes, Alto Flute; or Piccolo, 2 C Flutes, Bass Flute)
Major and minor scales, the building blocks of most music we are accustomed to hearing today, swam out of a rich sea of tonalities called “modes”, which evolved slowly from 800 to 1650 AD. Modes were used in monasteries and abbeys for chant and service singing. As church music moved from simple single line chant to two-part singing to many voice motets, the harmonies those counter melodies made gave Renaissance carols a distinctively lovely and unique sound. These new arrangements of old carols incorporate that progression of simplicity to complex, and use modal colors in melodies, harmonies and cadences to invite the listeners to savor the long-ago but not forgotten sounds of a Renaissance Noel.
Originally conceived for C flutes and Piccolo, alternate parts are provided for Alto Flute in Part 4 for all of the carols. These may add a deeper dimension to the sound, but are not necessary for a satisfying performance. Piccolo as a color instrument on Pat-a-Pan Part 1 would also be an optional lively addition. Flute choirs: using a solo instrumnet on the first austere statement of the melody in all but Pat-a-Pan is strongly recommended. Choirs might also enjoy experimenting with solo quartet on the first verse, adding players on each subsequent verse.
Good King Wenceslas
Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming
What Child is This
Each carol can be performed individually or as a part of a larger work.