Musical Weekly

Musings from Choirmaster Timothy J. Krueger

Musical Weekly

11 October, 2017

In this issue:

  • E-mail issues
  • SMCC Cameo: “A Mighty Fortress: Music of the Reformation”
  • This week at St. Andrew’s

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Sorry I missed last week – we had to change e-mail servers here at the church two weeks ago, so there have been some minor interruptions and other issues; but I also have experienced trouble sending e-mails to groups with a large number of recipients (like my choirs), so I’m not sure how this will go.  If our new server does not like it when I send an e-mail out with 50+ recipients, or there is a daily quota, or something of that sort, the days of this Musical Weekly may be over; or, I will have to fundamentally change the way I do this (perhaps start a blog?  Not sure how that’s done…).

 

Anyway, I will soon find out, I suppose, whether I am able to continue sending out e-mails to large numbers of people.  If I am not, perhaps this will come as a welcome relief to many of you. J

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Rehearsals for our end-of-October, 500th Anniversary of the Reformation concert are going extremely well, and the cameo group of 16 is sounding fantastic.  I sometimes liken conducting St. Martin’s Chamber Choir to driving a high performance luxury car (not that I’ve ever done that, but I can imagine what it’s like) – a highly responsive, feeling-one-with-the-road, sumptuous, guilty pleasure.  I’m sometimes convinced that, though I’ve rather successfully done it for 23 seasons now, I am actually not qualified to be leading these fine professionals; but, since they continue to allow me to do it, I may as well continue to take advantage of it!  😉

 

Anyway, that was an aside.  Here’s the program – a sort of cornucopia of musical treats, both sweet and savory:

 

A Mighty Fortress: Music of the Reformation

 

Founders

Motet: Non moriar                                 Martin Luther (1484-1546)

Chorale: Jesus Christus unser Heyland                          “

Motet: Allein auf Gottes Wort                   Johann Walther (1496-1570)

 

First Successors

Chorale: Jesu, dein Seel’ lass heilg’n mich  Melchior Franck (1573-1639)

Motet: Wenn der Herr die Gefangenen       Heinrich Hartmann (1580-1616)

 

Seventeenth Century

Chorale: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele      Johann Crüger (1598-1662)

Motet: Verleih uns Frieden                       Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

 

Eighteenth Century

Chorale: Wer sich ein Vat’r erbarmet        Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

[excerpt from Motet I: Singet dem Herrn]

Motet: Jauchzet dem Herrn [excerpt]        Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785)

 

Nineteenth Century

Chorale: Nun danket alle Gott                  Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

[fr. Symphony No. 2, “Lobgesang”]

Motet: Richte mich Gott                                    “

 

Comparison of Two Settings of the same text

Motet: Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit  Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759)

Motet: Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit  Hugo Distler (1908-1942)

 

Epilogue: Audience Sing-Along

Chorale: A Mighty Fortress is our God       tune: Martin Luther; harmonization: J. S. Bach

 

The Chorale and the Lutheran Motet are Lutheranism’s greatest gifts to the musical world, so I alternate between them as we work our way forward in time.  From Martin Luther himself, who was a musician and wrote many of the tunes and lyrics of the first Chorales, through Crüger, Schütz, Bach, and Mendelssohn (along with fabulous lesser lights like Hartmann and Homilius), I trace the annals of Lutheran music-making over the last 500 years.  Each piece is literally a guilty pleasure to sing and conduct; and I had a difficult time deciding which pieces I would allow Michael Johnson, the conducting intern, to conduct, as I didn’t want to give any of them up!

 

Here are the concert dates and venues:

 

  • Friday, Oct. 27, 7:30pm, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St., Denver
  • Saturday, Oct. 28, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2015 Glenarm Place, Denver
  • Sunday, Oct. 29, 3:00pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4500 Wadsworth Blvd., Wheat Ridge

 

Come to one of the early performances, because I predict a goodly number of you will enjoy it so much you’ll want to return on a subsequent night to hear it all again in a different acoustic!

 

Purchase tickets in advance at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org/concerts, or call the office directly for assistance at (303) 298-1970.  You won’t want to miss these concerts!

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Choral Evensong this week, sung by an a cappella quartet, marks the witness of St. Philip the Deacon (apparently there were two Philips in the Bible – the Apostle, and the one mentioned in Acts who baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot – this one is the latter).  Here’s the music I’ve chosen:

 

October 12, 2017, Choral Evensong: Philip (transferred)

Preces & Responses: Michael J. Gibson “Modal” (2006)

Canticle of Light: “Preserve us, O Lord” by Charles H. Giffen (2011)

Psalm: 67 (plainchant)

Service: Thomas Barrow (c.1720-1789) in F

Anthem: “Ecce quomodo moritur Justus” by Georg Reutter, Jr. (1708-1772)

Office Hymn: 286 (Zeuch mich, Zeuch mich)

 

Barrow was a singer in the Chapel Royal, first as a boy chorister, later as an alto, and was apparently admired by Handel for the power of his voice (I seem to recall he premiered the role of Esther in Handel’s opera of the same name – apparently the reverse of a “pants role”).  Composers of much of the typical sacred repertoire were largely organists or choirmasters, so it is nice to see a singer who contributed.  This is, along with Arnold in A and Kelway in G minor, my favorite 18th century (“Georgian”) setting of the Evensong service.

 

And here’s the music for this Sunday:

 

October 15, 2017, Proper 23

*Introit: “Lord, we pray” by Timothy J. Krueger (2001)

Anthem: Praise, by George Dyson (1883-1964)

*Fraction Anthem: “Because there is one bread” by Charles H. Giffen (2003)

Communion motet: “Rejoice in the Lord” by Anonymous, 16th century English

Hymns: 316 (Canticum refectionis), *481 (Gopsal), 701 (Jesu, meine Freude), 300 (Benifold)

*11:00 only

 

Back in 2001-02 I wrote an introit for almost every day in the church year based on the Collect of the Day (that’s an antique English word for Prayer).  Most of my introits are forgettable (and that’s being charitable); but there was one of true inspiration that I still do on almost every Proper 23.  Soprano, alto and tenor sing a two-chord ostinato on the words “your grace,” while the basses have the melody and the text of the collect, “Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us.”  The ostinato begins before the tune starts, and continues after the tune ends, thus depicting the words of the text “precede and follow.”  In the middle, the chordal ostinato rises chromatically with the melody, and then subsides again back to its original pitch level.  It’s all of 45 seconds long, but it’s the only one of these many introits that I’m actually proud of a decade-and-a-half on.

 

Dyson’s anthem (to George’s Herbert’s winsome poem “Let all the world in every corner sing”) was originally written as a unison song with piano; but he later added alto, tenor, and bass parts, and orchestrated it, when using it as one of a set of pieces called “Three Songs of Praise.”  I included this piece in the wedding of Governor Hickenlooper a couple years ago.  A real gem of a piece.  And, as far as Tudor English anthems go, the anonymous “Rejoice in the Lord” is quite a rollicking good sing that the choir always quite enjoys.

 

That’s it for today.  All the best to all of you.

 

Tim

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Timothy J. Krueger

Choirmaster, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver

Artistic Director, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir (professional)

Affiliate Music Faculty, Metropolitan State University of Denver

6

Musical Weekly

27 September, 2017

In this issue:

  • “Symphonic A cappella” a success.  What’s next for SMCC?
  • This week at St. Andrew’s

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The Festival Singers’ initial outing as an a cappella group was a resounding success, artistically; and the audiences were of a respectable size (if not quite what we were hoping).  I thought the choir rose to the occasion(s), sang with great accuracy yet emotion, and it was a great pleasure bringing these delightful works to life.  The audience seemed to react very positively to both the main works (Bantock and Spohr), including an immediate and rousing standing ovation at the end (these are more and more de rigeur in modern America, so I gauge their authenticity by how enthusiastic and immediate they are).  I hope the evident pleasure in the reactions of the audience leads to greater attendance at the next outing of the Festival Singers (as yet unplanned). We had over 200 at each performance, resulting in a combined total of well over 400, but, alas, we had budgeted for more, given that, at the Festival Singers’ debut performance last Fall, we had over 1000 at the two concerts.  Hence, we had budgeted for double what we got (and we thought 800 was conservative, given last year’s 1100).

 

This could be a conversation for later – what is it that makes a concert a success?  In my mind it’s mostly a crapshoot – completely unpredictable.  It doesn’t seem to rest on the familiarity of the repertoire; a catchy title; the adventurousness of the programming; interesting collaborations; the performance venues we choose (i.e. ready access to parking, good acoustics, etc.) …  We’ve had both big and small audiences at all of the above, and I despair sometimes to enter into the minds of the audience to know what will sell and what won’t.  But, ultimately, I suppose, I care less about what will sell than about what I think I would love to perform; and in this case, giving both the Bantock and Spohr a hearing was important to me – lifetime goals now fulfilled.  The fact that we lost money on the performances?  Well, that’s the nature of performing organizations in our culture.  I should probably learn to dwell on the positives and let that which detracted from the overall experience be like the proverbial water off the duck’s posterior. J

 

So, what’s next for St. Martin’s?  We go from 65 singers down to 16, and perform three concerts in late October to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, with works by German Lutheran composers from Luther to Mendelssohn.  “A Mighty Fortress,” is my attempt at a catchy title; and there are works by familiar names like Bach, Mendelssohn, and Schütz; and unfamiliar names like Hartmann, Walther, and Homilius.  And it is the first time that I, a Krueger, have performed a work by another Krueger, in this case Johann Crüger (1598-1662).  The concerts are the weekend of Oct. 27-29, Fri. and Sat. nights, and Sun. afternoon.  Go to our website for more information: www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org.  Tomorrow I am recording a little promo-video with the stalwart Gene M., so perhaps next week I’ll be able to provide a link to it.

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This week at St. Andrew’s, Evensong tomorrow features the men of the choir with organ, marking the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.  I figured it was being sexist to always do this service with just women (as I have done for the last three years), just because I associate the angelic nature of their voices with the subject of the feast! 😉  So here’s the music:

 

September 28, 2017, 5:45pm; Choral Evensong: St. Michael & All Angels

Preces & Responses: Timothy Krueger in G (TTBB)

Canticle of Light: “Behold, now, praise the Lord” by William H. Harris (1883-1973)

Psalm: 8

Service: George Dyson (1888-1964) in C minor

Anthem: “Ye watchers and ye holy ones,” 17th century German Melody arr. George Oldroyd (1887-1956)

Office Hymn: 282 (Caelites plaudant)

 

Although I wrote this setting of the Responses in 2010 (originally for SSAA), this is their premiere as a set for TTBB, transposed down an octave.  Jury is still out whether they work in this lower register, but I’m liking what I hear at rehearsals for the most part.  J  The Dyson is a lovely unison setting of the canticles, so I’ve spruced it up a bit to have a few solos, some bits for tenors alone, other for basses, and added some harmony parts on the Amen.

 

Then this Sunday, here’s the music:

 

October 1, 2017, 9:00 and 11:00am; Proper 21

*Introit: Exultate Deo by Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725)

Anthem: “Like as the hart” by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

*Fraction Anthem: “Because there is one bread” by Charles H. Giffen (2003)

Communion motet: “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” by Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987)

Hymns: 492 (Finnian), *339 (Schmücke dich), 343 (St. Agnes), 477 (Engelberg)

*11:00 only

 

It’s always fun to sing choir and congregational favorites like the Howells and Poston.  The Scarlatti is also an old favorite of mine.

 

That’s all for this week!

 

Tim

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Timothy J. Krueger

Choirmaster, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver

Artistic Director, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir (professional)

Affiliate Music Faculty, Metropolitan State University of Denver

6

Musical Weekly

6 September, 2017

In this issue:

  • Welcome back!
  • The Men of St. Martin’s singing plainchant
  • Martin’s Season Opening Concerts
  • This week at St. Andrew’s

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It’s good to be back in the saddle, so to speak.  It was a wonderful summer for MB and me, celebrating our 20th anniversary (with an Alaska cruise that “featured” an actual murder – perhaps you saw it in the news), and travels in England and Germany.  I hope you all had good summers as well.  But I’m looking forward to cranking things back up in my musical life, and sharing it all with you in these pages.

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Six men of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir are reprising this Sunday a concert we did two seasons ago called “Chant: Mystery and Mysticism.”  The concert features two large works which both alternate Gregorian Chant with movements for organ, played by the incomparable Richard Robertson.  The first work is the Kyrie from Francois Couperin’s Mass for the Parishes (Baroque); but the main work on the program is the Symphonie des Mysteres by Joaquin Nin-Culmell (1908-2004).  This same group of people (Richard, and the men of St. Martin’s) did the premiere recording of this work in 1997 – exactly 20 years ago – in the presence of the composer (that recording is still available from Toccata Classics: https://toccataclassics.com/product/nin-culmell-symphonie-des-mysteres/, including some samples for listening).  We reprise that work here, 20 years later, in the same space and on the same organ. This is a mystical, 20-some movement work that traces the mysteries of the rosary.  Nin-Culmell was a student of Dukas and de Falla, a colleague of Messiaen, and, incidentally, the brother of the rather celebrated (notorious?) memoirist and erotica author, Anais Nin.  I recall him as a quiet, extremely polite man, and I very much like this piece of music.

 

The free concert is at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1500 Logan St., at 3:00pm this Sunday.  Parking will be an issue, but since the concert’s free…  😉  It is part of the Basilica’s Bosetti Concert Series, honoring a past clergyman who championed good music at the Basilica.  Hope to see some of you there.

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St. Martin’s opening concerts this season feature the Festival Singers (SMFS) in a concert called “Symphonic A Cappella.”  It’s all in the title – almost 70 singers singing works conceived on a grand scale, by Felix Mendelssohn, Louis Spohr, and Granville Bantock.  The Festival Singers’ debut a year ago this month was with orchestra (RVW Dona nobis pacem with the Stratus Chamber Orchestra); and I was pleased to have the Festival Singers featured this summer with the Colorado Music Festival in two concerts, once on Beethoven’s 9th, and then in Holst’s The Planets.  Both concerts received some of the best reviews that an ensemble of mine has ever received, in the Boulder Daily Camera.

 

Now these much-lauded Festival Singers are striking out into unchartered A Cappella territory.  I’ll describe the actual repertoire next week, but for now plan on which of these two concerts you want to attend, and purchase tickets at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org/concerts/

 

  • , Sept. 22, 7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village
  • , Sept. 24, 3:00pm, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church, Park Hill