New Music Friday: Joyeux

Some of the best holiday concert titles, aren’t necessarily holiday music at all. Composer Mark Barnard originally wrote Joyeux for a family holiday video and it captures the joyous spirt of the holidays, but it is not explicitly holiday themed. As such, it is an excellent change of pace for your concerts this December.

With its majestically flowing melody and accompaniment, Joyeux for String Orchestra provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce 12/8 meter and the dotted-quarter pulse as it compares to 4/4 meter and the quarter note pulse. Inspired by rhythmic elements of J. S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Joyeux incorporates the triple eighth-note pattern, both slurred and separate. It also employs a variety of dynamics to maximize bow placement and distribution. For instance, measure 13, marked “piano dolce,” is an opportunity for all string instruments to start in the upper half of the bow and crescendo back to the lower half of the bow in measure 15. This piece is entirely in first position and it is voiced to use the maximum resonance of all the string instruments. While Violin I has a High 3 C-sharp in the melody at the beginning, an effort has been made in the doubling of melody and harmony to avoid High 3 C-sharp in Violin II and Viola. The essence of Joyeux is joy; the piece makes a solid educational choice throughout the school year.

As a music educator, Mark Barnard has directed school and youth orchestras throughout the country, and has served as an educational guest conductor, clinician and presenter at state conventions and the American String Teachers National Conference. As a composer, arranger, and music editor, Mark Barnard has created numerous instrumental, choral and keyboard publications. His compositions and arrangements for educational orchestras have been featured and performed at the Midwest Clinic, Interlochen Center for the Arts and many conventions and festivals worldwide. A graduate of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the New England Conservatory, Mark studied under artistic directors Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Lewis and Michael Tilson Thomas in the orchestra at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. He was also a member of the artistic and administrative team with Michael Tilson Thomas that launched the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy.

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