15 April, 2015

In this issue:
· Review of weekend’s SMCC concert
· Shout out (accolades) to KVOD
· This week at St. Andrew’s

Robin McNeil wrote a wonderful review of this weekend’s performances of “Beat! Beat! Drums!” http://opuscolorado.com/ (scroll down, as there is now a more recent entry [-ies?].)

What excites me about this review is that, never having discussed this with Robin, he absolutely nailed what I have been increasingly thinking is the way I want to do concerts: narratively, and with a dramatic trajectory of sorts. He coined a term, “parody oratorio,” (“parody” used in the sense of the Renaissance parody mass – using pre-existing material on which to base a musical work) – and although this is probably not the term I would choose, it is definitely the concept. I might rather call it a “pastiche oratorio” – assembling a group of pieces by a variety of composers, together with dialogue (in this case readings) that tell a story.

The traditional concert, with a collection of works that are either unrelated (think most symphony concerts – an overture, a concerto; then in the second half a symphony. The works have little or nothing to do with each other), or are part of an overall theme (“French Masterworks,” or “Tudor Thomases”), is definitely still the norm, and St. Martin’s has not done the last of these, to be sure. But I quickly tire of an entire season of such concerts, personally. So I am increasingly looking at creating concerts that tell a story; that have, as I said above, a dramatic trajectory; that take the listener from one point to another, narratively and emotionally.

I’ve attempted this a few times before. It started many years ago with the “Literary concerts” – one devoted to Jane Austen, then Patrick O’Brian, then Elizabeth I as a poet – also concerts such as “It is Finished” (a musical Stations of the Cross), “England Expects” (200th anniversary of Trafalgar), and “A Night to Remember” (100th Anniversary of Titanic), etc. “Beat! Beat! Drums!” is in this vein, and, according to this review, and audience reactions (as well as my own sense of it), the most successful so far. It’s my goal to do many more like this. In fact, in announcing our 2015-16 Season in the next couple weeks, you will see many examples of story-telling. More about this anon.

I have been noticing that the music played on CPR-classical (KVOD; 88.1 here in Denver) is becoming more adventuresome lately, and I heartily approve!! Just in the last 48 hours I’ve heard an extremely dissonant work by Bohuslav Martinu (loved it!); works by Michael Tourke and David Diamond; and many by composers I’ve never heard of (which is saying something, as I’m a musicologist by training, and an enthusiast of obscure composers by inclination) such as (and I’m not sure I’m getting any of these right, since I only have the announcers pronunciations to go by), Dorland, Carreno, and a handful of others I can’t remember. I’m still hearing plenty of Mendelssohn and Beethoven and Mozart and Bach (and lots of Saint-Saëns lately – very refreshing), so I don’t feel deprived of the acknowledged masters; just enriched by lots of music I’ve never heard before, which makes me perk up and listen more closely.

Anyway, since several KVOD announcers are on my recipient list for this Weekly, let me applaud you as strongly as I can. This listener heartily approves. J

Evensong this Thursday (5:45pm) marks the life of Molly Brant (Konwatsijeyenni was her Mohawk name) – a Revolutionary War woman who suffered at the hands of the so-called American “patriots” (a mob destroyed her home) because she advocated loyalty to the British. She took refuge in Kingston, Ontario, where she helped found St. George’s Anglican Church there, and, partly by becoming the common-law wife of Sir William Johnson, the British minister for Indian Affairs, represented a sought-after voice on Native American issues to the British government. Her death in 1796 was mourned both in Canada and Britain, as well as among the Mohawk tribe.

Here’s the music I’ve chosen, rendered by an a cappella quartet:

April 16, 5:45pm, Choral Evensong: Molly Brant
Preces & Responses: Thomas Ebdon (1738-1811)
Canticle of Light: “Behold, Now Praise the Lord” by Benjamin Rogers (1614-1698)
Psalm: 111
Service: Benjamin Rogers in D major
Anthem: Confitebor tibi by Orlando de Lasso (1530-1594)
Office Hymn: 385 (Lacquiparle)

This coming Sunday, Easter 3, is an interesting departure from the usual at St. Andrew’s – a choir visiting from Saint Mary’s College, Omaha, Nebraska (a Roman Catholic Women’s College) will be singing the services. Ralph Valentine, our usual organist, will still play the service (meaning the congregational items, improvs., voluntaries, etc.), but their own organist (Wayne Kallstrom) will accompany the choir. The repertoire will be very unusual, compared to the usual round of items I program, so it will be an exciting experience for our congregation, I think. Here’s what they’ve sent me:

April 19, 9 & 11am, Easter 3
Prelude Music:
· Selections from ‘Eight Short Easter Carols’ by Robert J. Powell
· ‘Myrrh-Bearing Mary’ by David Hurd
· ‘The Lord Is My Savior,’ Traditional Irish, arr. Carl Johengen
*Introit: An Easter Carillon by W. Leonard Beck
Sequence: – Ghana ‘Alleluia’; Traditional Ghanaian, arr. Kathy Armstrong
Offertory Anthem: Easter Carol, by Richard Proulx
Communion Motet: ‘A Repeating Alleluia’ by Calvin Hampton
Hymns: 182 (Truro), 193 (Puer nobis), *184 (Christ ist erstanden), 492 (Finnian)

I’m looking forward to having the Sunday off, so I can just sit in the pew! J

All the best, Tim

Posted in Musical Weekly.