In this issue:
- I’m back from a Great summer
- Friends of Music Benefit Concert this Saturday (tomorrow!)
- Preview of SMCC Season
- Gearing back up at St. Andrew’s: New website with videos!
Hello! I’m excited to get going on another great season of music-making. After a largely restful summer (with the exception of a 4-week, 6,000-mile road-trip in June/early July), I feel rejuvenated and raring to go! Hope you are looking forward to attending some great concerts, and, if you’re a St. Andrew’s member (or hanger-on), to hearing and reflecting on some great sacred music. Let’s get going!
Things get started already this Saturday, Aug. 29, 7:30pm, with a Flute Recital to benefit the Friends of Music at St. Andrew’s, performed by James Hall, flute, and Willem van Schalkwyk, piano, in the church (2015 Glenarm Place, 80205). Both are music faculty at UNC Greeley. I had the pleasure of sitting in the choir about 10 feet away from James Hall during two performances of a Bach Passion and hearing him play the most heart-meltingly beautiful solos in a couple arias (back when I was the chorus master of the Boulder Bach Festival) – it literally moved me to tears, so I can attest to not only his facility and musicianship, but his passion and heart.
James and Willem are performing works by Debussy, Bach, Franck, and two other living composers (I’m blanking on their names as I write this – one is a female, I believe: Melanie something). There is a suggested donation of $15 that will go to benefit the St. Andrew’s music program. I hope to see a goodly crowd, partly because it will be a fabulous recital (they are about to embark on a tour of South America with this program), and partly because you wish to support the music at St. Andrew’s.
Before I leave this topic, I ask you also to put Saturday, Sept. 12, 6-9pm, on your calendars. More about this benefit in my next Weekly, but it is a not-to-be-missed food and wine pairing event with live jazz at a breath-taking foothills art-deco home. Stay posted and save the date!
Rehearsals just started with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir for our upcoming 22nd Season, which is called “Stories in Choral Song.” Each concert has a narrative shape of some kind. Here’s a précis of the season:
Oct. 9 & 11 Menotti’s Madrigal Fable
“The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore” – with dancers from Ballet Arts, and the Confluence Quartet. Other works will include the Barber Adagio for Strings, and the Barber “Reincarnations.”
Nov. 6-8 Mozart Requiem à la Czerny
The great Romantic era pianist Carl Czerny made a difficult 4-hand piano arrangement of the Mozart Requiem. This was then lost for almost 200 years until recently discovered in a library in Slovenia. St. Martin’s will offer the Colorado (and possibly Western U.S.) premiere of this amazing version of the Mozart Requiem.
Dec. 18-20 A Bavarian Christmas
A rarely performed gem from the choral/orchestral Christmas oratorio repertoire will take pride of place here – Heinrich von Herzogenberg’s Die Geburt Christi (The Nativity of Christ), with instrumentalists from the Pro-Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, as well as Ralph Valentine and Richard Robertson, organists.
Feb. 12 & 14 Chant: Mystery and Mysticism
In 1996 the men of St. Martin’s, together with Richard Robertson, organist, gave the premiere performance and made the premiere recording of Spanish composer Joaquin Nin-Culmell’s Symphonie des Mysterès, in the presence of the composer. A student of Dukas and de Falla, and inspired by classmate Olivier Messiaen, Nin-Culmell (1908-2004) traces a dramatic arch in this work for organ and Gregorian Chant.
Mar. 18-20 The Passion Story
In 1920 Charles Wood wrote a simple setting of the Passion According to St. Mark for chorus, soloists, and organ for the choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Joined again by Richard Robertson, St. Martin’s renders this emotively powerful work during the weekend preceding Palm Sunday.
June 3 & 5 Short Stories in Song
A moving collection of moderately short works that each tells a story – partsongs of love and loss by Vaughan Williams and Holst, Kodaly’s “Jesus and the Traders,” Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Choirmaster’s Burial” set beautifully to music by modern Swedish composer Marten Jansson, and other works.
If you’d like to obtain season tickets for this patently stupendous programming (if I do say so myself J), do so here: www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org, or by calling (303) 298-1970.
Here on St. Andrew’s newly updated website you can see and hear some examples of the music we make. I’m particularly proud of a recording we made of the Magnificat from Herbert Brewer’s Evening Service in D (sung by 10 singers – live and unedited from the service itself [camera hidden behind a pillar]), and some Gregorian Chant from the Still Point service, both recorded in late May before the choir broke up for the season (as well as some mp3 audio excerpts from other recordings). These may be viewed/listened to here: https://www.standrewdenver.org/listen and here:https://www.standrewdenver.org/evensong. Although the audio quality on the video examples is not particularly high, it’s good enough for you to get an excellent idea of what it all sounds like.
This Sunday (Aug. 30) is the last for Summer Choir (anthem “Rejoice, ye pure in heart” by Willan, and Rutter’s “God be in my head”). Choral Evensong then resumes on Thursday, Sept. 3, 5:45pm, with the full choir and organ rendering the following:
September 3, 2015, Choral Evensong
Preces & Responses: TJK in A
Canticle of Light: Evening Hymn by H. Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950)
Psalm: 37:19-42, Plainchant
Service: C. V. Stanford (1852-1924) in C
Anthem: Da nobis pacem by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Office Hymn: 24 (St. Clement)
It has become a tradition to sing Stanford in C and the Balfour Gardiner Evening Hymn at the first Evensong of the season. The choir practically knows them by heart, so it’s easy to bring them out and brush them off. It was Stanford in C that was partly responsible for getting me into the Anglican Church – in 1987 I had begun singing as a staff bass at St. John’s Cathedral here in Denver (merely a job – I was not an Episcopalian at the time), and one day in a CD shop I found a CD of the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, John Scott, director, called “My Soul Doth Magnify” – a compilation of 6 or 7 Evening Services, among whom were names I had recently sung at St. John’s. With the sudden death of John Scott a couple weeks ago, my mind has gone back to this album, and I’ve played it and its sequel “My Spirit Hath Rejoiced” numerous times these last weeks. Anyway, Stanford in C is the first item on the first disk, and as soon as I heard those opening fulsome chords of organ and choir, in the sonorous acoustics of St. Paul’s Cathedral, I was hooked. Something clicked in me and my future career path (although I had little realization at the time) was determined. I am therefore going to dedicate this Evensong to the memory of John Scott, lately organist/choirmaster of St. Thomas, Fifth Ave., NYC, but of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, before that.
Then, the first Sunday with the full choir again is Sept. 6. Service times remain 8 and 10am for a couple weeks, however. Here’s what I’ve planned, music-wise:
September 6, 2015, Proper 18
Introit: Confirma Hoc, Deus by Gregor Aichinger (1564-1614)
Anthem: Jam lucis orto sidere by Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950)
Fraction Anthem: O salutaris hostia by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Communion motet: Da nobis pacem by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Hymns: 375 (Du Lebensbrot, Herr Jesu Christ), 493 (Azmon), 567 (St. Matthew), 429 (Old 113th)
As can see, with only one rehearsal for both Evensong and Sunday, I’m repeating the Mendelssohn – gorgeous piece! – and the Balfour Gardiner (albeit with a different text).
I encourage you to visit the St. Andrew’s website and view the videos. I’m especially proud of the video of the Brewer Magnificat in D.
All the best,