MUSICAL WEEKLY MARCH 22, 2016
22 March, 2016
In this issue:
· A Query about SMCC’s concerts last weekend (consider it a survey)
· What’s next for SMCC?
· Holy Week at St. Andrew’s
Our performances of the Charles Wood “Passion According to St. Mark” were very good this last week, and I was very touched to see so many audience members literally in tears afterwards, expressing how poignant it was, and exclaiming in wonder that this work was not better known, so powerful is it.
My only disappointment was the sparsity of the audience. 355 total (110, 87, 158 at each concert respectively). Normally if we do a Lenten-themed program, it turns out to be our second-largest attendance of the year (after Christmas, of course). This one fell a full 100 people short of our projected (budgeted) audience, and 125 short of last year’s April concerts.
I’m not scolding here – just genuinely curious as to what might have lowered turnout. If any of you has some insight into this (i.e. you’re an SMCC “regular” but didn’t attend this concert – why?), I’d appreciate the feedback. Possible explanations that have occurred to me might be:
· It conflicted with other concerts I attended (CBE did Bach St. John the same weekend)
· I thought the concert sounded too religious
· I’m less inclined to attend when the entire concert is comprised of a single work, and that work is by a composer I’ve never heard of
· I was planning to go Friday night, but the snow that fell earlier in the day kept me away
· It’s Spring Break – I was otherwise engaged
· ______________ (fill in the blank)
Anyway, those who attended the concert where quite moved; our soloists did magnificently; the choir was absolutely marvelous (rarely have I felt the singers have been so on-the-money); Richard Robertson played passionately (especially on Sunday); Greg Robbins’ pre-concert lecture was masterful, and quite well attended. It was a triumph from start to finish; so I was especially disappointed that it was not heard by more people. I’m only aware of one recording of the work that is currently available (Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge – and to my ears it’s a bit muddy), so I’m considering recording the work myself…!
St. Martin’s Chamber Choir makes its next appearances in conjunction with the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra in two performances of the Mozart Requiem under the direction of maestra Cynthia Katsarelis, April 8 and 9. The Requiem itself hardly needs an introduction; but this performance uses a particular version of the work as follows:
There are a number of versions out there, as Mozart left the work unfinished at his death. His student Süssmayr first finished it, and performance of this version has been the norm for 230 years; but other versions have been attempted, mainly due to the feeling that Süssmayr was, at best, unequal to the task, and at worst, a second-rate hack. H. C. Robbins-Landon did a radical rethinking of it; and Robert Levin has done a re-composition that has been recently popular. In both, the arrangers eradicated what they felt was clearly by Süssmayr, and replaced it either with something else by Mozart, or by a composition of their own that they felt was superior to Süssmayr. (Privately, I have serious reservations about these, but that’s another conversation.)
Less radical is a version by Franz Beyer, which, rather than eradicating and/or replacing anything, merely alters the voicing and instrumentation to correct what seem to be infelicities in the writing. This is the version that will be used in this performance. For all intents and purposes, what the audience will be hearing is the Mozart Requiem as completed by Süssmayr, with corrections of instrumentation and voice-leading rather than anything unfamiliar or new. (For my money, this is the kind of alteration I can enthusiastically get behind.)
Get tickets from PMCCO directly at http://www.promusicacolorado.org/
Holy Week – the most solemn in the year, and marked by some of the most beautiful music Christendom has produced. Here’s what I’ve programmed for the services at St. Andrew’s, with a brief description of each service:
Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 7:00pm: Stations of the Cross
10 different settings of Adoramus te, Christe, by Palestrina; Anonymous 13th century; Mariano Garau; Padre Martini; G. A. Perti; G. M. Nanino; G. Pitoni; Q. Gasparini; C. Giffen; G. Verhallen. Also, Gregorian Plainchant.
“O Lord, rebuke me not” by Charles Wood (1866-1926)
In this service, an officiant and acolytes move around to each of the 14 Stations of the Cross mounted on the walls of the church; a brief reading and prayer accompanies each one, and then as the procession moves to the next Station, a setting of the Adoramus te is sung (plainchant 4 times with congregation; 10 others to settings by the above composers). I love hearing the differences in the settings of this same text, from Medieval, Renaissance, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century composers. Personally, this is perhaps my favorite service of the week.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 7:00pm: Tenebrae
7 Psalm Chants
Lamentations of Jeremiah (Lessons 1-3) by Timothy J. Krueger (2001)
Holy Week Responsories (Lessons 1-3) by Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Christus factus est by Felice Anerio (c.1560-1614)
Miserere mei by Gregorio Allegri (c.1582-1652)
This is many people’s favorite service of the week, with the gradual extinguishing of lights until the service ends in complete darkness (the famous Allegri Miserere is very powerful in the dark!). 99% of the service is sung, and 60% of that is psalm chants, so the repetition of the alternatim is very hypnotic and solemn.
Thursday, March 24, 2016, 7:00pm; Maundy Thursday
Anthems at the Footwashing:
“Peace is my last gift,” Plainsong, Mode 1, harm. James McGregor (b. 1930) and MB Krueger (2005)
“Lord, do you wash my feet?” Gregorian Chant, Mode 5
“Drop, drop slow tears” by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
“This is my commandment,” variously attrib. to Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) or William Mundy (d. 1591)
“A new commandment” by Richard Shephard (b.1949)
“God is love” by A. Gregory Murray (1905-1992)
Anthem: “Draw us in the Spirit’s tether” by Harold W. Friedell (1905-1958)
Fraction Anthem: Tantum ergo by Maurice Duruflé (1903-1986)
Communion motet: Ubi caritas by Maurice Duruflé (1903‑1986)
Hymns: 315 (Song 1), 581 (Cheshire), 314 (Adoro devote), 313 (Jesu, meine Zuversicht), 320 (Lauda Sion salvatorem), 329 (Pange lingua)
This service re-enacts the Last Supper, where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, celebrated the meal that has served as the model for Communion ever since; and, finally, prepares the church for tomorrow’s Good Friday service (and represents Jesus’ betrayal and abandonment by those whose feet he had just washed) by stripping the altar and chancel area of everything not permanently affixed, and the removing of the host (the body of Christ) from the church to an “altar of repose.” So the service begins with love and community, and ends with aloneness and abandonment – fairly powerful in the stark contrast it creates. One of my favorite moments of the church year is when, as the people sing the Pange lingua, the host (in a monstrance) is borne from the church in great solemnity by the priest, the thurifer walking backwards and bowed down in reverence…
Friday, March 25, 2016, 12:00 Noon; Good Friday
The Passion According to St. John, setting by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
Procession: Crux fidelis by King John IV of Portugal (d. 1656)
The Anthems at the Veneration: 3 Veneration Anthems by Timothy Krueger (2007)
Procession to the Altar of Repose: Hymn 166 (Pange lingua)
Communion motet: “O Saviour of the World” by F. A. Gore Ouseley (1825-1889)
Communion Hymn: 168 (Herzlich tut mich verlangen)
This service tells of the crucifixion. The choir sings the Passion Gospel; there is a rather Medieval moment called the ‘Veneration of the Cross’ (I’ve revived my simple but affecting 3 Anthems, written in 2007 and first performed a couple years later); and a simple communion is served from the “reserved sacrament,” consecrated the previous evening. It is an entirely a cappella service, as the organ, which played last about half-way through the Maundy Thursday service, is completely silent until half-way through the Vigil service.
Friday, March 25, 2016, 7:00pm; Good Friday: Downward to Darkness
Prelude: Passacaglia from Suite #3 (1971) by Benjamin Britten (1901-1976) (Matt Dane, violist)
• Reading: Mark 15:42-47
“Give me that Stranger” by Michael McCarthy (2010)
• Poem: “Pieta” by John Taylor
Hymn 173 (Traurigkeit)
• Poem: “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Gregorian Chant, Mode 2
• Poem: “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver
Finale (Kontakion) from Suite #3 by Britten Britten (Matt Dane, violist
• Poem: “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens
“Ah, holy Jesus” arr. by John Ferguson for choir and viola
This was a new service last year, and all agreed it was powerful and we should continue it this year. It will consist largely of the five readings/poems above, followed by a 2-3 minute period of silence, followed by the music selections listed, some choral, some congregational. The goal was to create a service of mourning, as Jesus lies in the tomb; and the silence, coupled with the dark readings and the mournful music, combine to make this a service that, uncharacteristically for Christian services, offers no hope, but dwells for a moment in sheer lamentation. This year Matt Dane joins us for the service, playing along with us on one number, and playing a couple viola solos by Benjamin Britten.
Saturday, March 26, 2016, 7:00pm; The Great Vigil of Easter
Exultet [choral underlay: Timothy J. Krueger (2011)]
“I will sing unto the Lord” by John Amner (1579-1641)
Sicut cervus by G. P. da Palestrina (1525‑1594)
Canticle: [Stanford/Krueger Gloria in excelsis]
Sequence: Great Alleluia, S70
Anthem: Te Deum in C by Charles V. Stanford (1892-1983)
Communion motet: “The Strife is O’er” by William Harris (d.1973)
Hymns: “I sing the almighty power of God” (Kingsfold), 296 (Engelberg), 199 (St. Kevin), 191 (Hyfrydol)
This is a very long service (c. 2 hours), so not for the faint of heart. But it includes some of my favorite music, including Howells’ Te Deum from his Collegium Regale service. It is the first of the three Easter services, beginning with readings that tell a story of salvific acts of God (foreshadowing the resurrection), and then the declaration of the resurrection itself about half-way through the service, when the organ is used for the first time since Maundy Thursday.
Sunday, March 27, 2016, 9:00am and 11:00am; Easter Day
Introit: Jauchzet dem Herrn by Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785)
Anthem at the Asperging: “Most Glorious Lord of Life” by William H. Harris (1883‑1973)
Sequence: “Rise up, my Love” by Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Creed: monotone harmonization in E major (“with bells”), TJK (2014)
Anthem: “Ye choirs of New Jerusalem” by Charles V. Stanford (1852‑1924)
Communion motet: “I Got me Flowers” by Daniel Burton (1984)
Hymns: 207 (Easter Hymn), 174 (Salzburg), 210 (Ellacombe), 180 (Unser Herrscher) – with C. H. H. Parry Choral Amen
This is the joyous conclusion to the week, including some old favorites of mine (the Harris and Stanford), and a new piece for us this year, by Daniel Burton. It is the one Sunday in the year where the full choir sings at both the 9 and 11 services. Sure to be full, so if you plan to come, arrive 20-30 mins. early for better seating. J
The blessing of Holy Week to one and all.
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