||John Rutter, a world-famous British choral conductor and composer, was educated well in his childhood and the choral experience during that time has helped him to become an outstanding musician. After he was well-known, he not only established the Cambridge Singers and Collegium label, but also spared no pains to spread choral music such as being a guest-conductor or lecturer around the world.|
Three Birthday Madrigals was completed in 1997. It’s for two to four part female chorus and is a rearrangement from Birthday Madrigals, a choral suite including five pieces of music for mixed choir that was commissioned by Brian Kay to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of the great jazz pianist, George Shearing, in 1995. The texts of Three Birthday Madrigals all came from the eminent poet of Elizabethan Era of the late Renaissance Period; The first piece It was a lover and his lass came from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the second piece My true love hath my heart is a sonnet, coming from Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, and the third piece When daisies pied combined William Shakespeare’s Love's Labour's Lost with George Peele’s The Old Wives’ Tale.
Rutter used two distinguished styles in Three Birthday Madrigals. He applied the jazz style to describe the delightful feeling of the first piece and the relaxing and pleasing feeling of the third piece. He utilized the English Partsong tradition when expressing the touching and profound love of the second piece. The most noticeable feature of the first piece is the dotted rhythm. Rutter indicated that the dotted eighth and sixteenth notes should be performed with a two-to-one ratio to interpret the swing style. The piano accompaniment sentence is extremely important, and improvisation-like manner will determine the jazz flavor firmly. The second piece preserves the unique aesthetic quality of pure human voices by having the singing a cappella. The first soprano part carries the melody most of time with the other voices supplying the harmonies. The third piece is a jazz waltz. It is similar with the first piece; the piano accompaniment plays an important role in creating atmosphere jazz and in enriching the musical color. Rutter applied smooth line against syncopation and clothed each section with legato and staccato simultaneously to make contrast. Therefore, when interpreting this piece, the choir should express the contrast clearly to make the music lively and attractive.
This master report consists of seven parts: the preface, a biographic sketch of John Rutter, Rutter’s compositional genres, Rutter’s choral music, a biographic sketch of three poets, analysis and interpretation of Three Birthday Madrigals, and the conclusion. There are two appendices at the end of this paper. Appendix A supplies two e-mail letters from Rutter. Appendix B is a list of Rutter’s published secular choral music.