One had great hopes for the musical Kirchner family. Perhaps, like the von Trapps before them, the triplet siblings would grace many a stage, performing as a string trio. But it was not to be! Young Shawn lacked the “people skills” to allow his siblings to tolerate working with him on any such project during those tender adolescent years.
However, years later, while celebrating a Kirchner family Christmas in McPherson, Kansas (in the late 90’s?), everything fell into a place for the long-awaited “von Trapp” moment. Soprano Anne and tenor Ryan had come into the family, and family friend Emily Tyler was nearby to play the flute. So it was that the prototype to this “Once in Royal David City” arrangement was written on a quick whim for a Christmas Eve performance at the McPherson Church of the Brethren. Shane, Shawn, and Ryan sang the men’s part, Shannan and Anne sang the women’s, with Shawn improvising an accompaniment at the piano, and Emily soaring above on her beautiful flute.
The arrangement was folded into a 2005 Juniata College Concert Choir commission of Christmas pieces, and the accompaniment was transformed with the addition of string quartet into the present arrangement. A subsequent performance at Disney Concert Hall by the Los Angeles Master Chorale was the occasion for a further transformation, substituting high trumpet for flute, and giving all the accompaniment over to the organ.