Mark A. Boyle

The Web Presence of Dr. Mark A. Boyle, Conductor, Tenor, Composer, and Poet. Here you will find recordings, scores, video clips, and information about Mark A. Boyle, Director of Choral Activities at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA.

ABOUT ME
  • CONDUCTOR/TENOR

    CONDUCTOR/TENOR

  • COMPOSER/POET

    COMPOSER/POET

CONDUCTOR

CONDUCTOR

In addition to his duties at Seton Hill, Dr. Boyle is an active guest conductor at many county, district, and regional choral festivals. Most recently, he was a guest conductor for the 59th Annual Ocean Grove Choral Festival, the largest festival of its kind, featuring a choir of well over 600 people.
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TENOR

TENOR

Boyle, a powerful lyric tenor, is sought after as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the country. He has performed as a soloist with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, The Riverside Choral Society of New York City, and Fuma Sacra.
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COMPOSER

COMPOSER

Boyle's choral works have been performed across the country by community, church, high school, and college choirs. He finds inspiration in the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Peter Hallock, and 17th century Baroque masters. Here you will find examples of his work.
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POET

POET

Boyle has been writing poetry for many years and has enjoyed a long collaboration with composer Peter de Mets. To date, they have produced 9 pieces. Classic forms and open structure are both found in Boyle's poetry. He is currently working on his first libretto, dealing with the life of Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.
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December 26

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Today is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Beatlemania in the United States. On this date, I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw her Standing There were released here. The following February, The Beatles would appear on the Ed Sullivan Show three times. I Want to Hold Your Hand quickly risen to the number one spot on the charts and the appearances solidified their popularity.

From the Wikipedia article:

In late 1963, Sullivan and his entourage happened also to be passing through Heathrow and witnessed how The Beatles’ fans greeted the group on their return from Stockholm, where they had performed a television show as warmup band to local star Lill Babs. Sullivan was intrigued, telling his entourage it was the same thing as Elvis all over again. He initially offered Beatles manager Brian Epstein top dollar for a single show but the Beatles manager had a better idea—he wanted exposure for his clients: the Beatles would instead appear three times on the show, at bottom dollar, but receive top billing and two spots (opening and closing) on each show.

Here is I Want to Hold Your Hand from their February 9th appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

December 25

Today, Christmas Day, is the birthdate of English composer and organist, Orlando Gibbons in 1583. He received his Bachelor of Music in 1606 and soon after King James I appointed him Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. One of the most (along with William Byrd) important composers who spanned the Tudor/Jacobean periods, Gibbons produced madrigals, service music, and both verse and full anthems. The verse anthem was a sectional work, alternating between solo sections (meant to be ornamented) and choral sections.

This is the record of John is probably one of the best known verse anthems from the period. While more appropriate for Advent, it;s one of my favorites – so let’s let it slide.

December 24

Today, Christmas Eve, is the anniversary of the death of English composer, John Dunstable in 1453. He wrote polyphonic music and was most likely one of the first composers to use triadic harmony effectively. Other composers, among them Binchois and Dufay, would mirror his use of thirds and sixths. The poet Martin Le Franc called Binchois and Dufay’s contenance angloise (English manner).

Lovely nose...

Lovely nose…

Dunstable often built contrapuntal melodies around plainchant, creating wonderful pieces, and worked in just about every vocal genre of his era: motets, mass movements, masses (one of the first to use a cantus firmus in a cyclic mass setting), hymns, antiphons, and secular works.

Here is Dunstable’s motet, Salve Regina misericordiae.

December 23

Today is the birthdate of Severo Bonini (1582-1663). He was a Florentine by birth and wound up serving there in 1640 until his death as maestro di cappella at Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Church), a central house of worship in Florence.

Holy Trinity Church in Florence

Holy Trinity Church in Florence

Bonini was a transitional composer and studied singing with the more famous Giulio Caccini. He wrote in the style popularized by his Venetian contemporary, Claudio Monteverdi, focusing on monody (solo voice with continuo accompaniment), though earlier works do point to the prevailing style of the late 16th century. Sadly, his Il primo libro delle canzonette affettuose in stile moderno (1608) is lost to history.

There are few recordings of Bonini’s works and none available on Youtube. Here is a recording of Caccini’s L’Euridice, as Bonini was certainly influenced by his teacher’s works. Caccini wrote his setting of Euridice roughly at the same time and place as Jabob Peri’s. Caccini actually provided additional music for Peri’s setting.

December 22

Today is the birthday of Giacomo Puccini, one of the most important composers of verismo opera. Puccini. Born in Lucca, a city in Florence that still has its intact Renaissance-era walls, Puccini belonged to an established musical family; his 2nd great grandfather served as maestro di cappellaat the Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca.

Puccini and me in Lucca, in the small square outside his birthplace.

Puccini and me in Lucca, in the small square outside his birthplace.

Besides incredible works like La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca, Puccuni also composed some beautiful choral music, including a Requiem for Giuseppe Verdi (scored for STB choir, organ, and viola – a short work setting the text of the introit). Here is the tender Coro a bocca ciusa – the Humming Chorus – from Madama Butterfly. Sung to denote the passage of time while Cio-Cio San, with her sleeping son, Dolore, wait through the night for the return of Lt. Pinkerton.

December 20

Today is the birthday of American composer John Harbison. One of his most important works, The Flight into Egypt, garnered him the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 and composed the opera setting of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby at the request of the Met and in celebration of James Levine’s 25th anniversary with that organization.

Prof. Harbison (currently at MIT) is one of the most important living composers and lists among his influences Stravinsky, Bach Cantatas, and jazz (jazz piano is one of his passions). His music is well received by audiences and critics alike.

Here’s a short piece – Quintet for Winds, Movement I: Intrada.

December 19

Today is the 56th anniversary of the opening of The Music Man, which ran for 1375 performances at New York City’s Majestic Theatre. It won Best Musical and 4 other Tonys, despite stiff competition that year; West Side Story had opened 3 months earlier. One might argue that with World War II still fresh in the country’s collective mind, the simplicity of 1912 Iowa appealed to US audiences.

The musical received rave reviews from every New York Paper. Robert Preston embodied the role – so much so that when Meredith Willson and Warner Bros. adapted The Music Man for the screen, the composer insisted on Preston for the lead role over Jack Warner’s choice, Frank Sinatra.

Here’s one of my favorite numbers from the movie, Marian the Librarian.

December 18

Today is the birthday of my oldest son, Nathan. He’s 11 today and we couldn’t be more proud. He’s bright, kind, and rather funny.

Nathan shares his birthday with Charles Wesley (1707-1788), father of Samuel Wesley and a prolific hymn-text writer. When I say prolific – I mean it! He wrote over 6000 of them. To this day, the first hymn in just about every Methodist hymnal is O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing! He also wrote Love Divine, all Loves Excelling and Hark, he Herald Angels Sing.

Here is the Chancel Choir at Coral Ridge, their brass ensemble, and Samuel Metzger, all led by Dr. John Wilson, performing Eric Nelson’s arrangement of the most common tune associated with Wesley’s lyrics, Glaser’s Azmon. I sang a Messiah at this church in 2011 – what a wonderful space!

District I Honors Choir

MAB rehearses with the men of the District I Honors Choir at Seton Hill

MAB rehearses with the men of the District I Honors Choir at Seton Hill

What a joyful day at Seton Hill University. I had the distinct honor of conducting the District I Men’s Honors Choir this afternoon. These young men rose to the occasion and sang with their hearts, minds, and spirits – not just their voices. What a blessing it is to work in the arts. What a blessing it is to make music together that moves an audience.

Now – on to tomorrow! In my new post as Director of Choral Activities at Seton Hill – the choirs and I will offer our first concert together – To Write Love on Our Hearts. I can’t wait!

Katherine of Aragon

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I am in the midst of research for my first libretto. The subject is Queen Katherine of Aragon, the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile (yes, the monarchs associated with Columbus) and first wife of Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland. She is a fascinating person, consumed by her faith and a true love for her husband. Henry had doubts as to the validity of their marriage due to that fact that Katherine was his older brother’s widow. The marriage required special dispensation from Pope Julius II. 

Marriages betwixt the widows and widowers of nobles was not new, not even to Katherine’s family. Her older sister, Isabella, married Prince Afonso of Portugal, who died shortly after his birth. Isabella, after a period of mourning, married Afonso’s younger brother, Manuel. When Isabella died, Manuel married Isabella’s younger sister, Maria. Crazy, huh?

The opera will be three acts with a prologue and epilogue. Peter de Mets, my writing partner and dear friend, is the composer and we are very excited about the project. A recit and aria pair has already started to develop – the Five Flowers aria, in which Katherine laments her 5 deceased children, each one compared to a flower.

More as the project moves forward!