Showcase: Ding Dong! Merrily on High
“Ding Dong! Merrily on High” was my first collaboration with my friend composer, Geoff Groberg, who has been our ward music chairman and choir director for the past couple of years. In October 2015, Geoff came to me with an idea. He presented me with a choral rendition and skeleton piano accompaniment, and he asked me to beef it up. Over the next few weeks, the piano part was jazzed up with bell tones, an organ was added — also with bell tones, and the singing parts were expanded slightly.
We performed it for the Christmas program, and it was well received. Everyone seemed to enjoy performing it.
Practice and Performance Tips:
This is one of those pieces that is relatively easy to put together and it sounds cool when performed.
The choral parts are on the most part simple, but the moving eighth note melismas may be a little challenging to keep together. This is not much different than performing an excerpt of Handel’s Messiah or most any other Baroque piece. If the singers take good breaths, follow the conductor, and sing with confidence, you will achieve a solid flowing sound.
The men will need to have a confident entrance right before rehearsal letters F and J.
Piano: make sure to bring out the accented bell tones at the beginning of the piece and anywhere else they show up. At each transition (letters D and H), make sure to continue on beat one with no hesitation (no fermatas in the measure before) to keep the momentum going.
Organ: try not to overpower the choir and piano. Use flutes in the Swell and Pedal, and have the bell tones ready in the Great. If the organ does not have bell tones, you should omit the Great notes entirely. The most challenging part will be the third verse, starting at rehearsal letter I. Repetitive practice should help you master that section.