Rob Bigley, fellow LBC professor of music, and I traveled to Toral, Spain to teach music for a week. There were 50 or so students from ages 14-22 who participated in either a chamber ensemble, choral/vocal group or a jazz/improvisation group which I led. We had a fantastic time working with the students and working side by side with several outstanding musicians from Spain who were teaching with us. Rob and I also had the opportunity to present a concert at a church in the mountainous region of Ponferrada. Free time was spent visiting the little village of Molinaseca, our personal favorite, and getting chased by a three-legged dog in a tiny mountain town as we made an excursion up a mountain. 

The time at the music camp was fantastic. There was another composer there, Daniel, helping me with translation and with arranging music for the improv. ensemble. Also helping with translation and teaching was Barbara Moreno, who studied with me last year at the College here in Lancaster. At the end of the week we presented two concerts on Friday and Saturday night. There was a fabulous bass, Mateo Crawford who sang a beautiful and powerful aria from Mendelssohn’s Elijah translated into Spanish. Rob Bigley led the entire group in Telemann’s setting of Psalm 117, and I arranged my song O Christ Our Hope for the chamber ensemble and voices and the rhythm section. The improv group also did a fun arrangement of a Charlie Parker tune and several other jazzy items. It was a truly rich experience spiritually and musically.

We are finally releasing “12 Gates” by Pageant Music, and to celebrate this Easter we are giving it away as a free download! You can find it at: http://www.noisetrade.com/pageantmusic where you can listen to every song before downloading. You can also donate to help us cover production costs – most of all, though, we want you listen and share it with people who you think will enjoy it. Our prayer is that you will be blessed!

“12 Gates” is the first in a set of two albums by Pageant Music; collectively the 24 tracks will be called “12 Gates, 12 Pearls” in reference to the twelve entryways of the New Jerusalem described in the Revelation of St John the Apostle. If you would like PDFs of any of these songs, please get in touch with us!

Our vision is that these songs would be an encouragement to believers everywhere and express the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a new and different way. Birthed from the artistry and collaborative nature of the believing community in Lancaster, PA, specifically Wheatland Church, we hope that these songs will edify and enrich the worship of churches all over the US and around the world. The driving force behind this collection and collaboration is Matthew Monticchio (our resident jazz pianist, classical composer, and music afficionado) and Hiram Ring (folk singer/songwriter), but with an incredible amount of interaction from our community both within and without Wheatland Church. Below is an outline of the tracks on the album with some additional notes on the performers and musical/textual elements.

Title: 12 Gates by Pageant Music – produced, recorded and mixed by Matthew Monticchio and Hiram Ring (C) 2010

1. Even So Lord Jesus Come – words and music by Hiram Ring
> Hiram: vocals, guitars, bass. Matthew Monticchio: pianos, synths, percussion. George Yellak: drums.
–> This song is in 5/4 – inspired by odd-meter exploration over the summer of 2009 (originally in 9/4), and an initial piece of scripture “E’en so, come Lord Jesus”, from the Revelation of John, the words became a meditation on the completeness of Christ in Himself and for us.

2. I Hunger and I Thirst – arranged and adapted by Matthew Monticchio, words by John Monsell (1866)
> Dan Kirby, Anna Demme: vocals. Matt: pianos, wurlitzer, synths, toy piano. Ben Young: guitars. Hiram: bass. George Yellak: drums.
–> Matt came across this text and was struck by its beauty in describing Christ as the Bread of Life. Dan and Anna’s voices were the perfect fit for the music, pleasantly supported by George’s drums and the other instrumentation.

3. Communion Hymn – words by Hiram Ring, music by Hiram and Matthew Monticchio
> Hiram: vocals. Matt: piano. Wheatland Choir: choir voices.
–> Last Easter (2009), Hiram was touring the country in his car and stopped to visit some friends in Georgia. These words and a tune came out of his thoughts about Christ’s sacrifice for those He calls brothers and sisters – obedience made perfect in suffering. Over the summer, he and Matt re-worked the melody and recorded piano and vocals live at Wheatland Church. The Wheatland choir added backing vocals in December.

4. Victory – by Hiram Ring
> Hiram: guitars, loops. Matt: synth.
–> Death is swallowed up in victory! O death, where is thy sting?!

5. Come Holy Spirit Come – arranged by Hiram Ring, words by Joseph Hart (1776)
> Hiram, Alisha Ring: vocals. Hiram: guitar, banjo. Matt: piano. Mike Bitts: upright bass. George Yellak: drums.
–> Hiram was working on picking songs for worship on the first sunday of Pentecost, and came across this hymn. Struck by the words, but needing a new melody, this folky version was born.

6. Psalm 23 – arranged and adapted by Matthew Monticchio, from words by George Herbert (1633)
> Joy Ike, Alisha Ring: vocals. Ben Young: guitars. Matthew Monticchio: synth, percussion, melodica, glockenspiel. Yolanda Mott: cello. Chris Loser: drums.
–> Matt wrote the music quite awhile ago, but wanted a new version of it. In 2008 he invited Chris to come and lay down some drums – an experiment in recording. The drums became the foundation, and after trying a variety of keys and instruments, things started to take shape or this variation on the original. Joy (a singer-songwriter from Pittsburgh) was traveling with Hiram and 2 other singer-songwriters in October (2009) and when they passed through Lancaster, Hiram asked her to sing on the track. Alisha (Hiram’s sister) added backing harmony. Ben’s guitars provide the perfect textural element that ties the instruments together.

7. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – arranged and adapted by Matthew Monticchio, words by Robert Robinson (1758)
> Cliff and Jen Lewis: vocals. Matt: piano, synths. Yolanda Mott: cello.
–> Cliff (aka “Trash and Glory”) and his wife Jen are longtime friends and collaborators of ours. We really enjoy their music and working with them – this arrangement worked perfectly with their vocals (recorded together) as they swap the melody back and forth.

8. Hiding Place – arranged and adapted by Matthew Monticchio, from words by Jehoida Brewer (1776)
> Brooke Annibale, Alisha Ring, Hiram Ring: vocals. George Yellak: drums, percussion. Ben Young: guitars. Mike Bitts: upright bass.
–> Brooke was one of the other singer-songwriters traveling with “4 on Tour” in October 2009 when Hiram asked her to sing on this track. The text follows the sinner as he progresses from the knowledge of the conviction of the Law to ultimately the resting place, the hiding place in the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. The chorus, “Jesus, Jesus calm the storm”, was written by Matt Monticchio and Katie Becker after Matt asked her to try and write a chorus to this hymn.

9. Man of Sorrows – arranged by Matthew Monticchio, words by Philip Bliss (1875)
> Christy Danner, Alisha Ring, Hiram Ring: vocals. Hiram: banjos. Matt: pianos, organs. Yolanda Mott: cello
–> Matt’s tune to this well-loved hymn has long been a favorite at Wheatland. While working on arrangement ideas, Hiram was playing around with his brother’s banjo and recorded what would become the foundation tracks. Christy is a singer-songwriter in the DC area and when Hiram heard her sing, he knew he had to get her to sing the melody – the result is a song that builds carefully, backed up by Yolanda’s sweet cello as voices continue to join the chorus.

10. Out of the Deep – arranged by Matthew Monticchio, words by Henry Baker (1868)
> Cliff Lewis: vocals. Matt: piano, wurlitzer, synths, loops, melodica, glockenspiel. Rob Nye: bass. Doug Plank: electric guitar. George Yellak: drums, percussion.
–> Another tune that has been in the preliminary stages for quite some time, the track is built around a solid backbeat and Rob’s complex bass lines. Cliff’s voice provides the perfect clarity among Matt’s sound textures augmented by Doug’s electric guitar. Matt found this hymn text, like I Hunger and I Thirst, in the Trinity hymnal, one of the many resources for congregational and other sacred singing at Wheatland. The text is an adaptation of Psalm 130

11. Benediction – by Matthew Monticchio and Hiram Ring > Caroline Nixon: harp. George Yellak: drums. Cliff Lewis, Matt, George: percussion. Wheatland Choir: oohs. Matt: rhodes, pianos. Hiram: programming.–> This track actually became the impetus for the current ’12 Gates’ project. Caroline recorded the harp parts in a session with Matt in early 2008, but the track sat unfinished until Hiram did some mixing on it in 2009 and added some programming and textural elements. George’s drums provided the necessary drive in September, 2009. A Benediction is a blessing – a prayer, often from Scripture, that is spoken by the priest or minister at the close of the worship service. As we near the end of the album, this instrumental piece leads into the final track, “Come Thou My Light”, which foresees the next 12 songs to come – the 12 Pearls.

12. Come Thou My Light – arranged and adapted by Keith Winder, words by Hugh Kerr (1853)
> Keith, Anna Demme: vocals. Keith: guitars. Yolanda Mott: cello. Matthew Monticchio: pianos, synths, percussion. Hiram Ring: bass.
–> One of the really cool things about collaboration and creation is that it encourages others to create. This spirit of creativity is largely the reason for why this album exists. A case in point is this tune by Keith – inspired by the text of Hugh Kerr. After recording guitar and vocals, Keith said “do what you want with it”. We anticipate the 12 Pearls album having perhaps another song by Keith, songs by Katie Becker and one by Hannah Becker and also others musicians and writers along with Matt and Hiram. Peace in Christ.

Matt and Hiram (March 2010)