15 September, 2015
In this issue:
- Promo video for SMCC’s Menotti concert
- This Week at St. Andrew’s
Gene M. (SMCC board member and all-round good guy) and I recorded (and he edited) a promo video for the upcoming St. Martin’s “Menotti’s Madrigal Fable” concerts (Oct. 9 and 11), about which I wrote at length in last week’s Weekly (q. v.). The video is a good summary of all that. Here’s the link (I don’t think it has been embedded in the SMCC website yet, but probably will be shortly):
Since St. Martin’s has never recorded anything by Menotti; and, because copyright laws forbid us from using any recorded music in the background of our videos for which we do not have written permission; the problem arose of what to use in this video. Gene M. had the brilliant idea, I think, of using the wordless chorus “To be sung of a summer night on the water” by Frederick Delius that we recorded in 1999 on our “Dreams all to brief” CD. The visual background of the shoot is the chancel of St. John’s Cathedral, where the Friday performance will take place. And I think I’m looking particularly natty in this video, to boot. Sort of a cross between a university professor and an English country gentleman. J
This Thursday is the commemoration of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), one of the most amazing women of the Middle Ages. So the anthem at Evensong (an octet with organ) will be by her; and the Canticle of Light, also by a woman (Susan Brown), is my way of giving a further nod to Hildegard. Here’s the run-down:
September 17, 2015, 5:45pm, Choral Evensong: Hildegard von Bingen
Preces & Responses: William Smith (16th century)
Canticle of Light: “From the rising of the sun” by M. Susan Brown (1998)
Psalm: 104:25-37 (plainchant)
Service: A. Herbert Brewer (1865-1928) in E flat
Anthem: O rubor sanguinis by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Office Hymn: 606 (Ubi caritas)
Susan Brown, a former alto in St. Martin’s Chamber Choir and the St. Andrew’s Choir, is a very fine composer, and she wrote the above anthem for the latter choir when she was in it a decade (or two!) ago. I think it has a very charming simplicity to it – just a bit redolent of when Copland was trying to sound American – very effective. The Hildegard anthem is an obvious choice, sung just by the women of the choir.
The Brewer service setting may not seem such an obvious choice for this Thursday – a big, bright piece of solid Anglican music. The reason is this: 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Brewer’s birth, so I am doing all three of his most well-known services (not sure if he wrote any more – these are the three I am aware of) – E flat, D, and F – this autumn. The E flat is this Thursday, the D major service (his most famous) will be on Oct. 1 (full choir), and the F major, the gentlest of the three, will be on Oct. 18.
This coming Sunday St. Andrew’s moves from its Summer to its Autumn schedule, with services at 9:00am (family oriented, no incense) and 11:00am (solemn “high”); and, of course, the Still Point (Gregorian Chant) service continues at 5:30pm.
Here’s the music for this coming Sunday:
September 20, 2015, 9 & 11am; Proper 20
*Introit: Nolo mortem peccatoris by Thomas Morley (1577‑1602)
*Creed: John Merbecke (1550)
Anthem: “Draw nigh to God” by Basil Harwood (1859-1949)
*Fraction Anthem: O salutaris hostia by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Communion motet: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” arr. Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
Hymns: 477 (Engelberg); *480 (Kingsfold); 434 (Eltham); 492 (Finnian)
*11:00 service only
It’s a good British Sunday, all ‘round, both choral and congregational numbers. We’re trying out a new (old) setting of the creed, arranged from plainchant by John Merbecke in 1550 for the then-brand new Book of Common Prayer. I’ve located a lovely organ accompaniment of it by Royle Shore (1917). We’ll see how long it takes the congregation to fall in love with it.
The Harwood is a lovely piece, slow and thoughtful, with a louder section in the middle, and a beautiful soprano solo. The Stanford arrangement of the well-known hymn tune Lobe den Herren is a rollicking good sing, and the congregation will be humming along with most of it (this is encouraged, as long as it doesn’t annoy other listeners around you). The Fraction Anthem remains the Howells O salutaris for a few more weeks – a gorgeous piece.
8 September, 2015
In this issue:
- Menotti’s Madrigal Fable
- Swanky Fundraiser for St. Andrew’s Friends of Music
- This Week at St. Andrew’s
The theme for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s 22nd (2015-’16) Season is “Stories in Choral Song,” where every concert has a narrative of some kind built into the programming. In our first concert of the season, it’s a single work that tells its own story, Menotti’s Madrigal Fable “The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore; or The Three Sundays of a Poet.”
The Madrigal Fable (or Comedy) is an old genre where a group of madrigals is pieced together to tell a sort of story, usually light-hearted. The earliest example is Il cicalamento delle donne al bucato (“The Gossip of the Wives in the Laundry” – sounds hilarious!!) by Alessandro Striggio (1567); but the best known is Orazio Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso (1594). It is now considered, as a genre, a precursor to opera, although there was no acting by the singers and only minimal scenery involved.
Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) borrowed this long-dead form for his 1956 work “The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore,” which, although it is comical in places, is definitely not a “comedy” in the sense of a happy ending. In this piece, which is made up of 14 choral movements (12 of which are a cappella) and 5 instrumental movements, Menotti asks for dancers to act out the story as the musicians sing and play (St. Martin’s will be joined by dancers from Ballet Arts, choreographed by Paul Noel Fiorino). The story is of a poet (“The Man in the Castle”) who successively appears in the town with the three mythical creatures of the title as pets. Each in turn becomes fashionable among the shallow and trendy townspeople; and when the next creature appears, they kill off the previous one on the assumption that this is what the poet did to his pet. In the end, the townspeople are berated by the dying poet as they storm the castle and find that all three creatures are still alive and surrounding his bed as he dies. Menotti explains that they represent, successively, youth, prime of life, and old age; and the fable, with text also by Menotti, is a critique of transient fads, the shallowness of those who blithely toss aside that which is no longer considered stylish, and the unwitting cruelty of many people towards artists in general.
Menotti’s original instrumentation calls for an odd assemblage of 11 instruments. I have done my own arrangement of the instrumental parts for string quartet (a big summer project, that!!), which will be played by the Confluence Quartet, with which fine ensemble we have previously collaborated at least twice before (William Grant Stills’ “Christmas in the Americas,” and Haydn’s “Seven Last Words” spring immediately to my mind). The Confluence Quartet will also be playing Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” during the concert; and the choir will sing Barber’s “Reincarnations” (Barber’s lifelong close connection to Menotti is, I believe, well known).
The concert will be performed twice, as follows:
- Friday, October 9, 2015, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Denver
- Sunday, October 11, 2015, 3:00pm, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Cherry Hills Village
Tickets may be purchased at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org, or (303) 298-1970. The Sunday venue has limited seating, so advance tickets are strongly recommended there.
The St. Andrew’s Friends of Music was established early this year with a mission to maintain and enhance the music program at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, where I am choirmaster. We have held a handful of concerts, recitals, and other musical events in support of this; and this Saturday, Sept. 12, 6-9pm there will be a very swanky food/wine pairing event at the beautiful foothills home of some St. Andrew’s parishioners, including live Jazz from the Stu MacAskie Duo. Here’s a foretaste (pun intended) of just a few items on the menu:
- Seared Ahi Tuna – orange, tobiko, bonito gel, plantain
to be paired with pinot gris
- Moroccan Chicken marinated in yogurt and aromatic spices, served with mint crème, on a bed of puffed rice noodles
to be paired with chardonnay
- Potato Wrapped Bison Sausage – house made sausage, champagne poached apple
to be paired with sangiovese
- Duck Prosciutto – black garlic, basil seeds, roasted red pepper on a spoon
to be paired with pinot noir
The tickets are $125 per person (understandably steep for some — but it is a fundraiser after all! J), but the breathtaking views from the house, the excellent high-end jazz, and the exquisite food represent about what you’d pay for a swanky night on the town anyway. And the amount is tax deductible, and supports a great cause! Ticket sales have been healthy, but there’s still room, and still a day or two to respond (the hostess needs a reliable count soon in order to purchase the right amount of food and wine). If interested, get more details (like the address) and purchase tickets at the following site: www.Flahivefundraiser.org
Hope to see many of you there, and thanks for supporting the St. Andrew’s music program!
Our first Evensong, in memory of John Scott, was really thrilling – thanks to all involved, from the 24 in the choir to the 30 in the congregation, and especially to Ralph, our peerless organist. I was overcome with chills, as usual, on the first chord of the Magnificat from Stanford in C.
Our second Evensong (this Thursday at 5:45pm) is sung by an a cappella quartet, and here’s the repertoire:
September 10, 2015, 5:45pm, Choral Evensong: Thursday in Proper 18
Preces & Responses: M. J. Gibson (2006)
Canticle of Light: “O Lord, the maker of all things” by William Mundy (d. 1591)
Psalm: 96 (plainchant)
Service: Charles King (1687-1748) in F
Anthem: Vox in Rama by Mikolaij Zielinski (c. 1550-1615)
Office Hymn: 247 (Coventry Carol)
The Gospel reading for the Thursday in Proper 18 happens to be from Matthew 2, the slaughter of the innocents. As the actual feast for the Holy Innocents falls on Dec. 29, when every church and choir in the world is on vacation, it’s nice to have an opportunity to sing one of the many beautiful and poignant settings of Vox in Rama, this one by a composer of the Polish Renaissance (that’s a pair of terms not heard often together!). The service setting is a winsome one by Charles King, master of the choristers (i.e. boys) at St. Paul’s Cathedral under organists John Blow and Jeremiah Clark.
Then this Sunday, Sept. 13, which still features a single choral service at 10:00am, the music will be as follows:
September 13, 2015, 10:00am: Proper 19
Introit: Jesu dulcis memoria by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548‑1611)
Anthem: “Let this mind be in you” by Lee Hoiby (1926-2011)
Fraction Anthem: O salutaris hostia by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Communion motet: Ecce quomodo moritur justus by Georg Reutter, Jr. (1708-1772)
Hymns: 525 (Aurelia), 448 (Deus tuorum militum), 254 (Wyngate Canon), 522 (Austria)
The Hoiby is a “big sing,” and an even bigger job for the organist. Lots of fun. Reutter was the Kapellmeister of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna when the Haydn brothers were boy choristers there, and has garnered a bad reputation in history because Joseph Haydn later said that Ruetter, though he was supposed to be providing private musical instruction to the boys, never gave Haydn a single lesson. This is a rather nice little piece, however (I actually recorded it with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir on our “It is Finished” CD, in case you’re interested), and the Haydn brothers turned out to be pretty good composers anyway, so I forgive him. The Victoria is attributed to but actually probably not actually by him. Oh well, some things become so ingrained in people’s heads, it’s best not to set them straight.
All the best this coming week!
* * * * *
Musical Weekly: 1 September, 2015
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,
* * * * *
18 May, 2015
In this issue:
- Responses to melancholy musing
- St. Martin’s Season Finale Concerts: Byrd 4
- This week at St. Andrew’s
Thanks to the handful of people who responded to my musing about the melancholy I’ve been feeling lately regarding the meanderings of life’s path compared to one’s passions. Some responses were brief (“What a bittersweet glimpse into your psyche – thanks for sharing;” and “I read that David Willcocks book, too,” etc.), and others quite long, where thoughts/memories were jogged by close affinity with my ramblings.
Here’s what I just wrote as the lead article for our upcoming SMCC newsletter. Some will perhaps argue with my assertion that Byrd felt threatened in his Catholicism, since it is well-known that Queen Elizabeth was aware of it, but turned a blind eye towards it because she valued his talents and contributions to the Chapel Royal. Still, I think it can be fairly asserted that his being “out of synch” with the religious tenor of Britain at the time was a great pain to him, if not an outright threat to his well-being.
by Timothy J. Krueger, Artistic Director
I am not alone, I think, in calling the William Byrd Mass for Four Voices the greatest of all Renaissance mass settings. Written during the reign of Elizabeth I, when Byrd’s illegal (and therefore concealed) Catholicism caused him to write Latin works in secret, his clandestine compositional activity is therefore all the more moving because of the peril involved. The persecution of non-conformists (including the very real possibility of death) caused Byrd to imbue this work with a sense of urgency and intensity, all the while never compromising on his strict sense of imitative polyphonic voice-leading. It therefore satisfies both head and heart, being both perfect in construction and passionate in affect.
John White’s 8-movement work The Canonical Hours (written for and premiered by SMCC in 2005) is a work that shares certain similarities with the Byrd mass, yet is different enough to provide immense variety. Using a polyphonic voice-leading that White calls “Neo-Palestrinian,” and therefore redolent of Renaissance techniques yet employing a thoroughly modern harmonic palette, White takes a prayer from each of the eight daily services of the monastic world and weaves a cycle that moves from darkness (Matins, shortly after midnight) to light (the noonday office of Sext is an example) back to darkness (Compline, after sundown). He illustrates the coming and going of the light in sometimes delicate, sometimes boldly declamatory music.
These two major works will each be preceded by a shorter piece. The stage for The Canonical Hours will be set by the lovely motet Salve mater by Tim Sarsany; and the Byrd will be introduced by a brilliant new work by SMCC alto Donna Wickham, Veni Redemptor.
See our 21st Season out with this mellifluous pairing of old and new, all performed with the precision and blend that you’ve come to expect and love with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir. See you at one of the performances!
- Fri. May 29, 7:30pm – Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church, Denver
- Sun. May 31, 3:00pm – St. Gabriel the Archangel Episcopal Church, Cherry Hills Village
Tickets available at the door, or www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org and (303) 298-1970.
Choral Evensong on Thursday (our second-to-last before we take our Summer Break – feed that hunger before it’s too late!! has a definitely Tudor feel, with the exception of my own Preces & Responses. Here’s the music:
May 21, 5:45pm; Choral Evensong: John Eliot
Preces & Responses: TJK in A
Canticle of Light: “O Lord, the maker of all things” by William Mundy (d. 1591)
Service: John Hilton (d. 1608) in the Dorian Mode
Anthem: “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
I love these mostly Tudor services – simple yet exquisite.
Then Sunday is Pentecost – the most important Feast of the year after Christmas and Easter (one might argue). Being Memorial Day weekend here in the States, we also move to our summer schedule here at St. Andrew’s (spoken Eucharist [i.e. no music] at 8am; Choral service at 10am; Still Point [Gregorian Chant, candlelight, etc.] still at 5:30pm). Here’s the music I’ve chosen for this week’s service at 10:00am:
May 24, 2015, Pentecost
Introit: “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
Sequence: Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Anthem: “Lord, who hast made us” (Ps. 148) by Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Communion motet: “How beauteous are their feet” by Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Hymns: 225 (Salve festa dies), 505 (O heiliger Geist), 511 (Abbot’s Leigh), 516 (Down Ampney)
The Holst is a BIG SING – difficult, involved, and the final verse is LOUD!! (tenors and sopranos on a high B flat, fff!!). Originally orchestrated, I suspect; the organ part, therefore, is probably a beast. The Stanford, by comparison, is simple and gentle, although there’s one bit (“The Lord makes bare his arm”) that crescendos to a powerful climax (with lots of diminished 7ths).
This is the last Sunday morning of the full choir. On May 31 we move to “Summer Choir,” where anyone is welcome to sing the 10:00 service, as long as you show up promptly at 9:00am to rehearse. There is a quartet of staff singers through the summer, so every part is covered; but if you’d like to come along and sing some accessible but satisfying anthems, do come!
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)
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
· 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
30 March, 2015
In this issue:
· Last week’s blur
· “Beat! Beat! Drums” – SMCC Cameo Concert
· Holy Week at St. Andrew’s – list of all music and services
Wow – does a week ever blindside you? Hence, I never got to a Weekly last week. This was regrettable, as the Evensong last Thursday (all men), and yesterday’s Palm Sunday music, were among the best in their category that I have ever done at St. Andrew’s. The men at Evensong created a rich, sonorous blend, and I was particularly moved by how beautiful they sounded – quite a highlight that I shall not soon forget. And Palm Sunday – a day I normally dislike because of the nature of the outdoor procession at the beginning of the service – went the best it ever has in my 20 Palm Sundays at St. Andrew’s, partly because of the presence of a bagpiper; but once we got inside the church, too, the service just seemed to gel, and the choir has rarely sounded better than we did on the Leighton “Solus ad victimam” and the Bruckner “Christus factus est.”
Ironically, though Holy Week should be the busiest of all my weeks in the year, I feel fairly composed this Monday morning, quite ready for the onslaught the rest of the week! So here’s my Weekly.
Here’s a complete list of the readings (italics) and musical selections (bold text) for “Beat! Beat! Drums!”, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s upcoming concerts, April 10-12 commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Lincoln’s Assassination.
Excerpt from Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address
Lincoln Prays After the Battle of Bull Run Harvey Gaul (1881-1945)
Joshua Chamberlain – excerpt from Speech Delivered on the 25th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address
A Procession Winding Around Me Jeffrey Van (1994)
Alex Komodore, guitar
1. By the Bivouc’s Fitful Flame
2. Beat! Beat! Drums!
Excerpt from a Reflection by William Faulkner
3. Look Down Fair Moon
Sarah Morgan – “A Confederate Girl’s Diary”
Shenandoah arr. James Erb (1971)
Robert E. Lee’s Farewell to the Army of Northern Virginia
Civil War Trilogy Bradley A. Bombardier (1996)
1. The Portent (1859)
2. Malvern Hill (July, 1862)
3. Shiloh – A Requiem (April, 1862)
Colonel Henry G. Thomas’ Recollections of a Colored Brigade
Way over in Beulah Lan’ African American Spiritual, arr. Stacy Gibbs
Julia Ward Howe’s Recollections on Writing the “Battle Hymn”
Battle Hymn of the Republic arr. Donna Wickham (2015)
Excerpt from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
O Captain, my Captain! John White (b. 1931)
Frederick Douglass Oration in memory of Abraham Lincoln
Resignation Florence B. Price (1887-1953),
derived from an African-American Spiritual
“When Lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed” (excerpt)
To all, to each William Schuman (1910-1992)
Letter from Union soldier Sullivan Ballou to his wife
played during the reading: “Ashokan Farewell” Jay Ungar
Angel Band Shawn Kirchner (b. 1970)
The concerts are as follows:
· Friday, April 10, 7:30pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
· Saturday, April 11, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
· Sunday, April 12, 3:00pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
And tickets may be obtained on our website at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org, or by calling (303) 298-1970.
Here’s the outline of events and music for Holy Week at St. Andrew’s. This is a powerful week in terms of its dramatic impact – like attending a series of plays that are all linked. People who go only to Easter Sunday service miss out on the full impact of the day, in my opinion. The joy one gets from Easter is lessened by not having gone through the depths to get there. It’s like enjoying the view from a mountaintop after having been dropped off there by a helicopter, rather than having made the climb from the valley, with all its aches and sores and blisters. It’s like watching the happy ending of a film without actually knowing what went on in the previous 4/5ths that actually make it a happy ending. It’s like cheering a team in the playoffs without actually having followed them as they slogged through the regular season (we all know how much we resent those sorts of “fans!”). Okay, I’ll get off my soap-box now. I suppose I’m saying that I’d love people to come and witness the fabulous ritual and music of the darkness before they get to the light. By the time the choir (and clergy, I feel safe in saying) get to Easter, we’ve actually already given of our best. Those who have accompanied us know and feel this, making it all the more appreciated when they hear us sing and preach and trudge through the Easter service by drawing on our last remaining reserves of energy. To sing an Easter service when well-rested and chipper is not to sing an Easter service at all, in my opinion. Anyway, here’s the whole shebang (including yesterday’s Palm Sunday service, for the sake of comprehensiveness):
March 29, 2015, 9 & 11am: Palm Sunday
Anthem at the Distribution of Palms: “Hosanna to the Son of David” by Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Anthem: Solus ad victimam by Kenneth Leighton (1929‑1988)
*Fraction Anthem: Verily, verily I say unto you Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
Communion motet: Christus factus est by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Hymns: “Ride on, Ride on” to Hymn to Joy with bagpiper; 154 (Valet will ich dir geben), *458 (Love Unknown), 168 (Herzlich tut mich verlangen), 164 (Bangor)
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 7:00pm: Stations of the Cross
10 different settings of Adoramus te, Christe, by Palestrina; Anonymous 13th century; Clemens non Papa; Padre Martini; G. A. Perti; G. M. Nanino; G. Pitoni; Q. Gasparini; O. Ravanello; G. Verhallen. Also, Gregorian Plainchant.
“O Saviour of the World” by Frederick A. G. Ouseley (1825-1889)
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 be 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 my favorite service of the week.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 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, April 2, 2015, 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…
April 3, 2015, 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 Anthem at the Veneration: “Ah, holy Jesu” by John Ferguson (1995)
Procession to the Altar of Repose: Hymn 166 (Pange lingua)
Communion motet: “My God, my God, look upon me” by John Blow (1648-1708)
Communion Hymn: 168 (Herzlich tut mich verlangen)
This service tells of the crucifixion, pure and simple. The choir sings the Passion Gospel; there is a rather Medieval moment called the ‘Veneration of the Cross;’ and a simple communion is served from the “reserved sacrament,” consecrated the previous evening. We have violist Matt Dane coming to play some viola solos before the service, and accompany the choir in the very moving “Ah Holy Jesus” by John Ferguson. 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.
April 3, 2015, 7:00pm; Good Friday: Downward to Darkness
• 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
Shame and reproach have broken my heart. Gregorian Chant, Mode 8
• Poem: “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens
“Out of the Depths” Meditative Congregational Chant by Timothy J. Krueger (2015)
This is a new service this year, and a very simple one. 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 chant at the end is a Taizé-like chant I wrote last week that is repeated over and over again. Being a new service, it is something of an experiment, so we’ll evaluate afterwards what might need to be changed for next year; but the goal was to create a service of mourning, as Jesus lies in the tomb.
Saturday, April 4, 2015, 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 by Herbert Howells (1892-1983) (Collegium Regale)
Communion motet: “Come, let us join our cheerful songs” by Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
Hymns: “I sing the almighty power of God” (Kingsfold), 296 (Engelberg), 204 (Noël nouvelet), 191 (Lux eoi)
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.
April 5, 2015, 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: “Come, with high and holy gladness” by Hugh Blair (1864-1932)
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 Hugh Blair. 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
This is my 20th Holy Week at St. Andrew’s. A couple numbers (the Blow “My God, my God” and the Harris “Most Glorious Lord of Life”) probably appeared in my first year and nearly every year since; some of the music will be repeats from last year (thus involving a little less rehearsal time – very necessary when you present this much music [also necessary are excellent staff singers and very good volunteers, but this is a topic for some other Weekly!]); and there are some new things this year that I’ve never programmed before – always a mix (like a wedding – something borrowed [I get ideas from other choirmasters], something blue [all those psalm chants at Tenebrae – enough to make anyone blue!], something old [good old Stanford], something new [I’m excited about trying out the new piece by Michael McCarthy])!
I hope to see many of you at one or more services this year. J
16 March, 2015
In this issue:
· Replies to my Musings on Pronunciation
· Article on St. Martin’s concert “Beat! Beat! Drums!”
· This Week at St. Andrew’s
My musing on the evolution of pronunciation elicited many interesting replies. Apparently there are a LOT of pet-peeves (or good laughs) out there in this sphere! Here are excerpts of a few of them:
A light-hearted one from Dick E.:
Sean Connery pronounces “str” “shtr,” so either the world is getting increasingly Scottish, or just more like James Bond.
From Devin N.:
Back when I lived in Hawaii (’95-2000), I would often hear a word like “street” pronounced with an sh- sound, so I assumed it was part of a local Hawaiian accent. I wonder if it’s been spreading since then . . .
Bob K. (a Californian by birth) posited that perhaps the “shtr”- originated in Texas, not California, as he knows several Texans with this trait.
Misty D. writes, saying she always corrects her children when they don’t articulate the “h” in a word like “why”:
I’ve been known to say that I would rather hear my children cuss than use poor grammar or pronunciation.[Me: This reminded me of how my dad couldn’t stand it when us kids would say “ta-day” instead of “too-day.”]
What drives me wild here in middle-school-land is dropping a “t” if it falls in the middle of a word, substituting a glottal stop: “New-*glottal stop*-uhn” instead of “Newton” with a t, or at least the t is elided into the ending if it’s not spoken crisply.[Me: I’ll add that I’ve often observed, in lazy-American-speech, that the difference between “can” and “can’t” is that you pronounce the “n” in “can” but not in “can’t,” where a glottal stop replaces the “n’t”]
I’d add another “defect” to the list, one I initially associated with southeastern Pennsylvania, as the first practitioner of whom I became aware was from there, but I now find that it is alarmingly rampant. Namely, the loss of the dental quality of an internal letter “l” followed by a “d,” rendering, say, “building” into “biowding.” Having noticed it, I find it enormously annoying…naturally!
Christina L. complains of people at her church using a short ‘a’ (as in hat) in the word “Hallelujah.”
And finally, one from a “professional” in the pronunciation field, as Jim H. works at a place called “Talking Books,” which trains its readers in elocution, etc. After agreeing with me on my two points, followed by an enlightening discussion of the sound “ng”, he went on to say that, in using diacritical symbols with his newly hired employees, he has noticed something very odd in vowels:
At the very beginning of the lesson when I ask them to write ‘sing’ in diacriticals, this is where I am noticing something interesting about pronunciation. When the first person did this, I just ruled it the mistake of someone who is not used to listening carefully to the sounds of language. But then another student did it, and another.. .so that I would say about 70% of my students make the following mistake: they render ‘sing’ as the following: seeng (with a long i), and ‘thank’ as ‘thaink’ (long a, as in pale).
Finally, I’ll add an observation that is sure to elicit disagreements! I’ve always been of a mind that, when we sing, it is like poetic speech, and therefore our pronunciation should reflect the care with which poets craft their poems. Hence, when people say “we actually pronounce the word (for instance) ‘hasten’ with a schwa at the end (hay-son), so that’s the way we should sing it,” I roar in protest, because it’s like replicating sloppy speech in our music. Therefore, I ask my choirs to sing ‘hay-senn.’* The above theoretical person might reply, “That’s making it too precious, and we alienate our listeners with such affectation.” I further rejoin, “But if we replicate lazy speech patterns in song, we in effect legitimize them, and therefore (especially in an educational setting – school and university choirs) abdicate an important role of setting a good example by doing things correctly and with finesse. Now, I can understand loosening this rigor in something like a folk song or spiritual, where such niceties smack of inauthenticity, given the source of the music; but if we’re singing a piece of art music, let’s make it sound like art and not slang. Ok, I’m ready for the counter-arguments! J
*I think this applies in German as well, where the prevailing school of thought on words ending in ‘–en’ are pronounced with a schwa, as this is how they are spoken in modern Germany (so, “Augen” is rendered “ow-guhn”). Again, I protest and say this reflects a deterioration of speech (perhaps even as a result of the globalization of American culture and our general lack of sophistication, and even outright sloppiness as a nation when it comes to language, culture, history, etc.), rather than an upholding of standards that are good and reflect attention to detail, not to mention beauty and correctness.
Thanks to all who replied to my initial musing!
Marc Shulgold, whom many of you will fondly remember as the music critic for the Rocky Mountain News back when it existed as Denver’s other newspaper, interviewed me recently to write a preview article about SMCC’s upcoming Civil War Anniversary concert, “Beat! Beat! Drums!” for Scen3 (an SCFD*-group dedicated to mutual promotion of Tier III organizations [like St. Martin’s Chamber Choir]) Here’s a link to his article, in place of my adding anything more this week:
*Scientific and Cultural Facilities District – vote YES on reauthorization in 2016! J
Evensong this Thursday, 5:45pm, is the Feast of St. Joseph, Mary’s wife and “foster-” father of Jesus (I’ve always wondered why this feast falls on March 19, which is always in Lent…). Here’s the music I’ve planned, for a vocal quartet with Tamara Schmiege as our guest organist:
March 19, 2015, 5:45; Choral Evensong: St. Joseph
Preces & Responses: Richard Ayleward (1626-1669)
Canticle of Light: Te Joseph celebrant by José Maurício Nuñes Garcia (1767-1830)
Psalm: 89 (plainchant)
Service: Charles Wood (1866-1926) in E minor
Anthem: Oy Joseph by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)
Office Hymn: 260 Tallis’ Ordinal
•Nuñes-Garcia has a rather interesting history – born in Rio de Janeiro to parents of different races (he is referred to as a ‘mulatto’ in Wikipedia, which I suppose I thought was a rather derogatory term, but apparently not), he was appointed composer to the Royal Chapel there (Brazil being a colony of Portugal at the time). Most of his music is accompanied by orchestra, but this one is a simple, rather winsome hymn-like setting of a text for the Feast of St. Joseph. • The Guerrero piece is a lovely syncopated Spanish Villancico. • Wood in E minor is a simple setting of the Mag and Nunc that I thought was rather appropriate for Lent, even though St. Joseph would seem a rather festive occasion, given the saint’s close association with Jesus.
Sunday is the last “regular” Sunday in Lent, as it precedes Palm Sunday. Here’s the music I’ve chosen:
March 22, 2015, 9:00am & 11:00am; Lent 5
Sequence: Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Anthem: “The Sacrifice of God” by Maurice Greene (c.1695-1755)
¯Fraction Anthem: Qui manducavit by Felice Anerio (c. 1560-1614)
Communion Motet: “Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake” by Richard Farrant (d. 1581) (or possibly John Hilton [d. 1608])
Hymns: *337 (Unde et memores), 170 (The Third Tune), 158 (Herzliebster Jesu)
We reprise the Great Litany this Sunday (the long breast-beating procession, with plainchant response harmonizations by Steve Kick). Another anthem by Greene, and one of the ever-popular trio of Lenten works by Farrant (though this one could be by John Hilton, another Tudor-era composer), fill out this last Sunday before Holy Week, when there is a service – sometimes multiple services – every day. Next week’s Weekly will contain a list of the music at every service. It is a marathon for the choir (as well as congregation, if they come to every service), but it contains some of the most moving and poignant music in the entire church year, and, even if you’re not particularly religious in a traditional sense, attending one or two might be a spiritually edifying experience. Know you’re welcome at St. Andrew’s whatever your spirituality/faith/or lack thereof.
That’s it for this week!
13 February, 2012
In this issue:
- Preview of SMCC/BCOC collaboration March 2; Video link
- Musing on the state of Denver’s artistic criticism
- This week at St. Andrew’s
One of my most personally anticipated events in the St. Martin’s concert season occurs on Friday, March 2, 7:30pm (one night only!), at Gates Hall in the Newman Center on the University of Denver campus. St. Martin’s Chamber Choir is collaborating with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado on a program entitled “Requiem for a King,” containing gems of the French Baroque. I have always felt that the joining of these two groups is one of the more exciting things that can happen in the Denver cultural scene, and audiences seem to agree (our performances of the Charpentier Messe de Minuit on our 2010 Christmas concerts remain the single largest audience we’ve ever had).
St. Martin’s Chamber Choir was named “Ensemble of the Year” in 2009 by Kyle MacMillan, the former music critic of the Denver Post; and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado was given the same distinction in 2010. The joining of these forces alone, therefore, makes for a concert you will wish to attend. Add to that some exciting and rarely-heard repertoire, performed to exacting professional and historical standards, and the opportunity is truly sensational.
I will talk more about the repertoire in next week’s Weekly. For now, here is the link to a video of me nattering away about it in my usual way. The backdrop is my office here at St. Andrew’s, where I share work for the parish and St. Martin’s Chamber Choir (that’s where I’m sitting right now, writing this!). I’m nattily dressed, too, I might add, which should give pleasure to those of you who like to see men in bow-ties. J
Tickets are available only through the Newman Center’s box office (i.e. no season tickets for either organization are valid): newmantix.com; (303) 871-7720.
Speaking of Kyle MacMillan and the Denver Post, I must say that the state of music criticism in Denver appears to be in crisis. Kyle MacMillan’s “buyout” and subsequent departure, with the apparent intention on the part of the Post not to replace him, but to accomplish concert critiques by way of occasionally-hired independent contractors, is to be lamented, in my opinion. Newspapers and other print-media are having to swiftly adapt as our society moves increasingly online. I understand that. But I would think that one of the things that newspapers do that could possibly maintain some sort of interest in them is arts criticism, and keeping current on what’s going on locally.
I urge you to reply to this musing with your own thoughts; or to write directly to the Denver Post and urge them to maintain an important service in the retention of an arts critic. Thanks.
This last week of Epiphany, before the solemnities of Lent, bring the last few festive blasts from the choir for a while. Here they are:
February 16, 2012, Choral Evensong: Thursday in the Sixth Week after the Epiphany
- Preces & Responses: William Smith
- Canticle of Light: “An Evening Hymn” by M. P. Conway (1938)
- Psalm: plainchant
- Service: Charles King (1687-1748) in F
- Anthem: “God be in my head” by John Rutter (b. 1945)
- Office Hymn: 29 (Bromley)
Charles King was the Master of the Choristers under John Blow and Jeremiah Clark at St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1707-1748. Among his chorister-pupils were Boyce, Greene, and Battishill. This is an interesting and joyful little service setting. “God be in my head” is my favorite piece by John Rutter (who is normally, admittedly, not my favorite composer). As for M. P. Conway, does anybody out there know anything about him? I found this anthem in the 1950’s edition of the “Novello Anthem Book,” and like it (the copyright is dated 1938). But no amount of research, so far, has produced anything.
February 19, 2012, The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
- Introit: “Almighty God, which hast me brought” by Thomas Ford (c.1580-1648)
- Anthem: “Christ, whose glory fills the skies” by T. Frederick H. Candlyn (1892-1964)
- Fraction Anthem: “O esca viatorum” by Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517)
- Communion motet: “Alleluia, song of gladness” by Timothy J. Krueger (2002), based on a Plainsong melody, Mode 2
- Hymns: 618 (Lasst uns erfreuen), 129 (Mowsley), 137 (Wareham), 134 (Jesu, dulcis memoria), 135 (Salzburg)
The Last Sunday of Epiphany (i.e., the Last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent) is a personal favorite of mine. I like the readings regarding Christ’s transfiguration on the mountaintop (something mystical about that), which represent, I think, the climax of his earthly ministry before his betrayal and death. Anyway, the Candlyn “Christ, whose glory fills the skies” is an old chestnut that is worth every bit of its chestnuttiness (whatever that is), and the choir probably has it memorized (partly due to its winsome quality, but also because I do it about twice a year, making it one of our most-performed anthems). The other piece is by me, an arrangement of the plainsong tune Urbs beata Jerusalem. In 2002, desirous of featuring this melody/words, but disliking all the harmonizations I could find of it (and the choir was not yet up to Bairstow’s Blessed City, Heavenly Salem), I set about doing a harmonization of the melody myself. Before I knew it, I had written four different harmonizations, one for each verse, and it is one of those happy little pieces that works on every level. For those interested in a little esotericism, I wrote a brief 4-bar organ introduction which is based on the ‘Amen’ at the end of the chant. Verse 1’s harmonization takes this organ introduction, and augmenting it (x4), it underlays the entire first verse (and works out perfectly, the verse being exactly 4-times the length of the introduction). Then comes vs. 2, which is a free harmonization accompanying the trebles of the choir. Verse 3, for the men, takes the organ introduction and augments it again (i.e. doubling the first augmentation [x8]), and this (the first part of it at least) underlays the 3rd verse. The 4th verse is another free accompaniment that draws the thing to a close. Anyway, I am quite proud of the “hidden” esotericism of the vs. 1 and 3 accompaniments – rather like Brahms, or even Schoenberg, in the exactitude of its formula, yet the sonic success of the outcome.
29 November, 2011
In this issue:
- St. Martin’s sings Bach’s Christmas Oratorio this weekend
- Big week at St. Andrew’s!
St. Martin’s Chamber Choir teams up with the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra this weekend on J. S. Bach’s seldom-heard (in the US, that is) Weihnachtsoratorium (“Christmas Oratorio”). The narrative power of this work, coupled with its cornucopia of beautiful melody, are what cause me to be astounded that it is not better known in the US. In German-speaking countries it is the equivalent of our Messiah, with nearly every choir of any size performing something from it!
Friday, Dec. 2, 7:30pm, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St., Denver (two blocks from the state capitol building).
Saturday, Dec. 3, 7:30pm, First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder
The choir and orchestra have had their first rehearsal together (last night – another tonight), and the sound is wonderful! It’s like hearing it how Bach would have heard it, with a 20-piece orchestra and a 24-voice choir! And it turns out (sad as it is) that the cancelled CSO concerts this weekend are to our benefit, as there are several players from the CSO playing in the PMCCO! Cynthia Katsarelis is conducting the first half, and I the second half. Total time will run just over two hours, but the power of the story and music will carry you right through, and you’ll hardly be aware of the time passing! The Friday concert in Denver is nearing about 70% capacity at the moment, so tickets at the door may be limited. Buy them in advance at www.stmartinschamberchoir.org or at (303) 298-1970. Saturday night’s venue seats 800, so there’s little chance of that one selling out. In fact, if you’re up to a drive, I’d recommend the Saturday performance anyway. I’m quite fond of FUMC as a performance venue, and you’ll get a better seat!
It’s a big week at St. Andrew’s, with three big services: First, Choral Evensong this Thursday is in honor of our Patron Saint, St. Andrew (transferred from the actual feast day on Weds.). The full choir and organ will celebrate this big day for our parish, and Evensong will be followed by Eucharist. Then, after the usual services on Sunday Morning (Advent 2), the choir will sing Advent Lessons & Carols at 5:30 Sunday evening.
Here’s the music for all these events:
December 1, 2011, Feast of St. Andrew: Evensong with Eucharist; 5:30pm
- Introit: “Doctor bonus” by G. P. da Palestrina (1525-1594)
- Preces & Responses: Henry Clucas
- Canticle of Light: “Christ, Mighty Savior” by Craig Phillips (2005)
- Service: Charles Wood in C
- Anthem: “Give us the wings of faith” by Ernest Bullock (1925)
- Communion motet: “Dear Lord and Father” by C. H. H. Parry (1848‑1918)
- Hymns: 234 (Gonfalon Royal), 549 (St. Andrew), 661 (Georgetown), 232 (Nyland).
Craig Phillips is the organist/choirmaster at All Saints, Beverly Hills, and one of my staff sopranos (Ashley Hoffman) sang under him when she lived in L.A. She is the one who recommended this piece to me, and, in fact, purchased copies of the anthem for St. Andrew’s! Very generous of her – and it’s a gorgeous piece. The other works are standard St. Andrew’s fare (i.e., fantastic! J) – how can you go wrong with Palestrina and Parry, eh?
December 4, 2011, 9:00 and 11:00am, Second Sunday of Advent
- Introit: “Prepare your hearts unto the Lord” by Jacob Händl (Gallus) (1550-1591)
- Anthem: “Jam lucis orto sidere” by Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950)
- Communion motet: “Canite tuba” by G. P. da Palestrina (1525-1594)
- Hymns: 76 (Winchester New), 65 (Bereden väg för Herran), 75 (Ascension), 69 (St. Mark’s, Berkeley), 67 (Psalm 42)
The Balfour Gardiner piece is his well-known (and luscious!) Evening Hymn where the Compline (evening) words are replaced with Matins (morning) words, thus making a great anthem usable in morning services as well.
December 4, 2011, Advent Lessons & Carols Service (5:30pm)
- Introit: Beata viscera Mariae Virginis William Byrd (1543-1623)
- Processional: Plainsong, Quem terra, Pontus, aethera, sung by women only ( 8th Century Annunciation Hymn)
- Lesson 1: 1 Samuel 2:1-10, “Hannah gives thanks for the conception and birth of her son, Samuel.”
- Carol: Hymn 438 (Woodlands)
- Lesson 2: Isaiah 61:10-62:3, “Isaiah rejoices at the coming Salvation of Zion”
- Carol: “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson (1941)
- Lesson 3: Wisdom 7:21-8:1, “Solomon describes the nature of Wisdom”
- Carol: “Hymn to the Virgin” by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
- Lesson 4: Revelation 21:1-7, “John envisions the New Heaven and the New Earth”
- Carol: Hymn 73 (St. Stephen)
- Lesson 5: Luke 1:26-38, “The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear the Son of God.”
- Carol: “The Angel Gabriel,” Basque Carol arr. Malcolm Archer (b. 1952)
- Lesson 6: Luke 1:39-45, “Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist”
- Carol: “Übers Gebirg Maria geht” by Johannes Eccard (1553-1611)
- Lesson 7: Luke 1:46-49
- Carol: Magnificat by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) from the Evening Service in G
- Recessional Hymn: “Come, thou Redeemer of the Earth” Puer nobis nascitur
Oh, what a wealth of music! Byrd, Britten, Stanford, Thompson – and there will even be dancers during the Randall Thompson Alleluia. When the dancers came and practiced with us last Weds., several of the choir got tears in their eyes, it was so beautiful! And I cannot imagine a better setting of the Magnificat to honor Our Lady than Stanford in G, with its soprano solo and it’s “spinning wheel” accompaniment – “ecstasy without crisis,” as Herbert Howells called it. Do come!
Must go now, as I’m due in an hour in Boulder for another Bach Christmas Oratorio rehearsal (this one a “recit and aria” rehearsal with the soloists). ‘Tis the season!
26 July, 2011
In this issue:
- Full week
- 7/31, Proper 13
- KVOD Live Broadcast of SMCC 9/11 Concert!
- England Travelogue, Part VI
We raised $1,010 for the St. Andrew’s Music Program at the “Travels & Tea” event on Saturday, and “a good time was had by all,” being 40-some attendees. Thanks to Gretchen Timmer, Claudia Dakouri, Lu Krueger (my mom), and Ralph & Lynne Valentine for pitching in unbidden to assist with cleanup, making what would have been a 4-5 hour job for MB and me into the work of but an hour! But my most heartfelt thanks go to MB for her unstinting effort in preparing the food, setting the tables, and serving the tea (looking quite fetching with her apron and sky-blue linen dress!). To Chris & Denise, Stewart and Mary, Lionel and Jennie – you’re now much-beloved friends to those who came to the tea and watched our slides!
I forgot to mention in all my Weeklys that I was doing the pre-concert “Talk under the Tent” for the Fauré Requiem concert with the Colorado Music Festival, and this went very well, I thought, with perhaps 50-60 concert attendees listening to my half-hour presentation, and posing some very interesting questions. I was later told that the concert had pre-sales of 920 tickets, so, with walk-ups, I’ll bet there were over 1000 at the concert. I thought it went extremely well – the orchestra is among Colorado’s finest (if not the finest!), and the choir was in tip-top form. The instant standing ovation was electrifying, and when Maestro Michael Christie had me come forward (I sang in the choir) to acknowledge applause on behalf of the choir, there were extra whistles and cheers. The orchestra members and Michael were very appreciative, which is always the most gratifying of all (i.e. praise from your professional peers is what one most treasures, I suppose).
This week is the Colorado Chapter ACDA (American Choral Directors’ Association) Summer Conference, and, together with MB and Mike Kornelsen, I participated in giving a workshop on “Piano-less Rehearsals.” I have always rehearsed St. Martin’s without any instrumental accompaniment, for a variety of reasons; and both MB and Mike have begun doing this with great success with their advanced ensembles at Metropolitan State College. Their reasons and methods are more pedagogically-oriented, including the teaching of solfege syllables (do, re, mi) to assist in sight-reading and understanding of harmonic function, and instilling musical confidence and independence in students. I do it with St. Martin’s because they’re all professionals and don’t need a keyboard to sight-read, and I’ve always felt it improves tuning (i.e., if you use a piano or organ for rehearsals, the choir learns to sing in Equal-Temperament tuning, which, as we all know, is always slightly out of tune. If you do not use a fixed-pitch instrument to rehearse with, then each chord can be perfectly tuned [Just-Intonation, I think it’s called] rather than equal-tempered. If this went over your head, I’ll be glad to explain privately – indeed, I did so in the workshop as my justification [pun intended] for rehearsing without a piano). I know that most ensembles can’t afford to rehearse without a piano, either because of time constraints or less-developed skills of young or amateur choristers; but for those who can, I am of the opinion that it has a manifestly positive effect on tuning and singer confidence.
Here’s what’s on tap for the Summer Choir at St. Andrew’s this week:
July 31, 2011, Pentecost 7, Proper 13
- Anthem: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” by Alec Rowley (1892-1958)
- Communion motet: “Lead me, Lord” by Samuel S. Wesley (1810‑1876)
- Hymns: 523 (Abbot’s Leigh), 309 (O Welt, ich muss dich lassen), 339 (Schmücke dich), 328 (Song 46), 447 (St Magnus)
I think I inaccurately reported last week that we were doing the Wesley listed above; but we actually sang Louis J. White’s “A Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester,” a lovely little piece. I was told that White was a bass at Church of the Ascension in NYC under Vernon DeTar. Impressive, then, not only that a singer got an anthem published by OUP and put into the Oxford Book of Easy Anthems (it’s usually organists or established composers), but an American to boot!
Summer Choir is always variable, as is probably to be expected; for on 7/17 we had 24 singers, and had to add extra chairs; but this last week we only had 10 singers. Oh well, those are the vagaries of summertime! J
I am very happy to announce that St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s season-opening concert on Sunday, Sept. 11, 7:30pm, will be broadcast live on Denver classical radio station KVOD (88.1 on the FM dial; or listen to it online at www.cpr.org). About two months ago, I explained my reasoning for programming the Parry Songs of Farewell (rather than a Requiem) on a concert to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This was read by Sean Nethery, Vice-President of Programming at CPR, who then asked whether we’d be interested in a live broadcast. I’ve of course heard live broadcasts on KVOD of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, and a few others; so I was thrilled to have them express their interest in doing this with St. Martin’s on this day of national reflection. Here’s an advance view of the program (still subject to slight modification), which is in three sections:
Tragedy and Grief:
“De Profundis” by Terry Schlenker
Three Walt Whitman Poems, by William Schuman
- The Last Invocation
- The Unknown Region
- To All, To Each
Striving for Comfort:
- “To a Wild Rose” by Edward MacDowell
- “Nox arumque” by Eric Whitacre
- “Lux aeterna” by Edwin Fissinger
Acceptance and Release:
Songs of Farewell, by C. Hubert H. Parry
- My soul, there is a country
- I know my soul hath power
- Never weather-beaten sail
- There is an old belief
- At the round earth’s imagined corners
- Lord, let me know mine end
Some may find my lack of patriotic songs, well, unpatriotic. But I do not wish to approach this day of national reflection as a rah-rah “Yay America” kind of day. This not only smacks of shallow jingoism to me, but profoundly misses the mark in terms of what many people may be feeling at this sorrowful milestone in our nation’s history. Some people, yes, may want a “down with our enemies, up with us” kind of message; but I’m more interested in approaching the issue from the point of view of the transitory nature of human existence – of tragedy and suffering as a universal experience.
A Requiem would perhaps have addressed our collective thoughts surrounding those who died; but they have been fittingly honored, I think, since that horrific day, and I did not want this concert to smack of any sectarian celebration (a Requiem, for instance, being specifically Roman Catholic). It is those who loved those who died, and those whose lives were affected by the event (which includes almost all of us, to some extent), whom I wish to address in this concert. Each of these persons must deal with the loss in a profoundly individual and unique way; indeed, all of us must acknowledge the loss, adapt to the altered circumstances, and ultimately allow ourselves to release those who died, and the pain associated with the event, into hands greater than our own.
Hence, my programming, which includes three sections mirroring the way one deals with any tragedy. The first two sections are expressed through the music of American composers, including Denver’s own Terry Schlenker; and the final section features that poignant set of pieces, “Songs of Farewell,” composed by Parry during his final year as a conscious valedictory to life.
Of course, I look forward to having all the people on this list who live in Denver come to the actual concert, and be in community with me, the choir, and each other on this day; but I am thrilled that those on this list who cannot be in Denver will be able to share the experience live with us by tuning in on the radio or internet.
England Travelogue, Part the Sixth
Wednesday, May 18 & Thursday May 19
Rather than ramming about in a car (which we’d done the three days previous), we decided to hang around Aslackby this day, and had a wonderful time with the Gudgins and their friends and neighbors. The Old Vicarage is next door to the Manor House, and the “Lord” of the manor, if you recall, had invited us to look around his gardens, so we did. He has a full-time gardener, a Scotsman named Frank who is one of the friendliest people we’d met (in spite of the fact that we could only pick up about 75% of what he said, owing to his quite thick Scottish accent). And his wife Laura paid me the ultimate compliment by saying that the St. Martin’s disk “Monastic Echoes” was her “Desert Island Disk;” – you know, the one CD you would not trade for any other if you found yourself stranded on a desert island… She was familiar with it because Denise Gudgin plays the CD often as a prelude to worship in the church, which itself is an honor. We had lunch in the Farm Shop, a cozy eatery attached to the farm where the Gudgins got the beef for the previous evening’s exquisite meal (the cows in the field we observed before lunch were doubtless the sisters and brothers of the one who gave himself for our delightful meal the previous evening!).
We had tea in the drawing room, chatted all day, visited with a neighbor lady (Kate) who had lived in Boston (Massachusetts) for a time, walked through the village (the weather was perfect!), had naps, and ended our evening with dinner in Aslackby’s pub, Robin Hood and Little John, which has “come up” since our last visit a couple years ago (change of ownership and/or management, we hear).
On Thursday morning we bid Chris and Denise a fond farewell (afraid that, owing to the idyllic nature of the last four days, we had already experienced the high point of our trip!), and headed west towards Hereford, taking winding country road for the first couple hours, then joining up with the motorway. We visited Tewkesbury on our way, and it’s massive Abbey Church. Another one of these sad stories about a thriving abbey that is confiscated by the crown at the dissolution, and bought by the townspeople from the crown to be the town’s parish church. In this case, it’s a church that is cathedral-sized, and one of my favorite. Massive thick pillars attest to its Norman origins (11th-12th centuries), and the stark stonework and comparatively simple architectural features of the interior (compared to something newer, like, say, the 14th or 15th centuries) is breathtaking. One tragic note is that the Lady Chapel at the very east end of the abbey was destroyed at the Reformation, and the foundations are still visible in the grass. This gives the east end of the abbey a truncated look, as if it has a tooth missing, or an appendage has been lopped off. The abbey has three organs, the Milton Organ of 17th century origin (very old by English standards, since Cromwell disapproved of music in church, and hence almost all organs in England in 1640 were destroyed), the Grove organ of more modern origin and very large, and a smaller one. I purchased a CD featuring all three in the abbey shop. If I ever build a chapel for myself (assuming I win the lottery, or publish a best-seller), Tewkesbury will likely be one of the models!
No one was home at the Taylor’s when we arrived at about 4:00, so we walked through the inner city of Hereford for awhile, then, finding them still not home at 5:00, we went to Evensong at the cathedral. Seven men (ATB on Decani, and AATB on Cantoris!) and 13 boys, so it’s smaller than Lincoln, Oxbridge, or London choirs, but nonetheless quite lovely. Still no one home at 6:30, so we went to dinner at a pub a few miles out in the country (one thing I like about English cities [other than London, of course] is that they seem to end all-of-a-sudden; so one moment you’re in the city, the next you’re in the country. American cities drag on for miles of ugly suburbs, strip-malls, parking lots – yuck!). Stewart was home when we returned, and his first words upon opening the front door were “How lovely to see you! Were we expecting you?” Much hilarity about missed e-mails then ensued over a glass of wine, and all was well. We were expected at some point that weekend – they just didn’t know exactly when. Mary arrived home shortly thereafter.
There, I finally got two days into one installment!
19 July, 2011
In this issue:
- Biblical quotation
- SMCC with CMF
- Travels & Tea
- 7/24, Proper 12
- England Trip narration, Part V (musing alert [in footnote])
I suspected that “Everything in moderation” was not actually in the Bible when I used it in my tongue-in-cheek comment in the last Weekly; and indeed, retired minister Keith S. and my own rector Elizabeth R. called me on it! It joins phrases like “Cleanliness is next to godliness” that many people might think is in the Bible, but is not! J Keith suggested that St. Paul may have been sympathetic to the phrase, given Philippians 4:5 (“Let your moderation be known to all men”); and Elizabeth suggested that it was the Greek Socratic philosophers who advocated moderation in all things. I hope my absence from a church for a couple weeks, though not directly attributable to Jesus or St. Paul, is nonetheless still alright! J
A quick follow-up reminder of St. Martin’s collaboration on the Fauré Requiem with the Colorado Music Festival Chamber Orchestra this coming Sunday evening the 24th, 7:30pm, in the Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder; and on Monday night in the Concert Hall of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, also 7:30. Purchase tickets for the Boulder concert at www.coloradomusicfest.org or (303) 440-7666. The Estes Park tickets are sold separately, and I’m sure that the CMF box office will have that information. Remember to mention the code ‘SMCC’ for a discount.
Also a reminder about ‘Travels & Tea with Tim & MB’ to benefit St. Andrew’s music program, which is this Saturday the 23rd, 4:00pm, in the St. Andrew’s undercroft (which is always nice and cool, for any worried about drinking tea on a hot day). A genuine English-style ‘cream tea,’ cucumber sandwiches and lemonade, with a light-hearted narration (well, there will be a few heavy bits about ecclesiastic architecture) of our recent trip to England, accompanied by our photos arranged in a power-point presentation projected onto a large screen. We have about 30 reservations, and have space for about 10-15 more. Thanks to all of you who have replied bemoaning your necessity of missing it due to travel, other commitments, or not living nearby. Nice to know you would have liked to come. $20 – r.s.v.p. by this Thursday or Friday.
The summer choir this last Sunday was really quite good – 24 people showed up, in a well-balanced SATB, as if it had all been planned. MB was simply stunning on the solo in the Franck Panis angelicus – perhaps the best I’ve ever heard her sing, with the possible exception of one performance she did of some Elgar sea songs (can’t remember their title at the moment) a few years ago. Here are the pieces this week, July 24, 10:00am, Proper 12:
- Anthem: “The Lord will come” arr. Henry Ley (1887-1962) from an old Scottish melody
- Communion: “Lead me, Lord” by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
- Hymns: 388 (Hanover), 615 (St. Flavian), 677 (London New), 488 (Slane), 613 (St. Cecilia)
England Trip Narrative, Part the Fifth
Many people are familiar with the Cotswolds, a picturesque hilly area between Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire, known for the beauty of its scenery and the quaintness of its old villages. The word ‘wold,’ coming from Old English, means a hilly or rolling region (I suspect it may be related to the German word ‘Wald,’ meaning forest). For some years since first going to Lincolnshire, I had noticed on my map a small region called the “Lincolnshire Wolds.” Since the Cotswolds have become somewhat ‘touristy’ and commercialized, I have always had a yen to visit these unsung Lincolnshire hills. I read somewhere that Lincolnshire has the smallest population density of any English county (even those in the extreme north). And since befriending the Gudgins, Lincolnshire has begun featuring prominently in our life. All these things combined led us to commit this day to a tour of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Now, lest, due to over-publicity, the Lincolnshire Wolds become as commercialized as the Cotswolds, let me assure you firmly that they are ugly and not worth visiting. Stay away!
But then I’d be lying. We found them charming – almost as charming as the Cotswolds, but much more rural and unspoiled. No kitsch for you here – no faux-country inns, chic clothing shops, or nearby conveniences. Just lots of scenery, crops, vistas, villages, and cows. And, aside from a slight haze in the air, it was a picture-perfect sunny morning.
We took in Horbling and Boston on our way there. In Horbling, the church was locked, and a key was to be obtained from the manor house next door. I got the key from the “Lord” of the manor house (a great iron skeleton key weighing at least 2-3 lbs.), who also showed me a letter he had received from an American senator from Michigan (presumably because of my American accent) searching out his genealogy, which led back to Horbling. A plaque over the font indicated that Michael Ramsey, an Archbishop of Canterbury, was baptized there as a boy. The church in Boston is not to be missed for the size and uniqueness of its tower/spire. Aptly nicknamed the “Boston Stump” as the prime example of a Lincolnshire style of spire, it appears to be lopped off near the top, having a flat top on what otherwise looks like a lofty spire. It is truly massive, and quite awe-inspiring. One can climb to the top of the tower for a small fee of £1, but owing to a rash MB had contracted on her foot just before we set out for Britain, we refrained from this strenuous-but-doubtless-capped-off-with-a-stunning-vista trek. The rest of the church is large but uninteresting, being essentially one gargantuan box (unlike a cathedral which, with its nave and transepts and chapels and aisles and towers, is a series of inter-connected architectural boxes. Here, aisle-less nave and chancel are all part of the one large architectural box. It gives a feeling of lofty spaciousness, but otherwise little character).
We looked into some shops, including a Boots, to find some ointment for MB’s foot,* I bought a cardigan, and then we continued on our way to the Wolds. We looked into a number of parish churches, as is our wont; had lunch in a lovely pub in a charming town called Louth; and ended up in the afternoon driving to Lincoln, where we were hoping to attend Evensong at the cathedral. We were early enough to tour the cathedral first – it is one of my favorites. Large and dark and mysterious, aptly exhibiting Milton’s famous line about “a dim religious light” (he wasn’t being satirically metaphorical, but literal – from “Il Penseroso”). The west front of the Cathedral is one I like to look at and think of how I would improve it, for it must be one of the ugliest, or least successful, of all cathedral west fronts, being broad, flat and unimaginative . . . and therefore all the more dear to me! But inside, like a cavernous womb, the mystery of God floats almost perceptibly through its dark vastness. It’s at moments like this – especially when listening to choral or organ music in such a space – that my skeptical intellect comes closest to acquiescing to belief in God.
Evensong was wonderful – Tallis “Short Service” and an anthem by Bach – sung by very well-trained boys and 10 men (MB and I were trying to figure out the voicing, for 10 is an odd number for cathedral men. Normally there are 6 or 12, as you must have at least one alto, tenor, and bass on each side. We determined that on Decani there were two altos, two basses and one tenor; and on catoris one alto, two tenors and two basses). We sat in the stalls immediately behind the men of the cantoris side, and one of the men turned around and glanced at us briefly during the office hymn – presumably because he heard us singing. Afterwards, we happened to see the lay clerks (men of the choir) emerging from a door in their civvies, and we approached the one who had stood in front of us. We laughed when he said, “Ah, there are the good singers from behind me. Want a job?” We identified ourselves as singers/choral conductors from America, I told him I was choirmaster at a parish in Denver that did weekly evensong, which impressed him, and I asked why 10 men? “Economization,” was his one word answer. “Ah,” I said sadly. He then proceeded to tell us about the financial woes of cathedral and choir, and again jocularly invited us to audition to be lay clerks, if we could afford the tiny salary (clearly impossible for MB because of gender, and probably equally impossible for me because of nationality!). A very pleasant interchange.
We thence returned to Aslackby where Denise had prepared a simply scrumptious beef dinner made from local Lincolnshire “reds” (a kind of beef cattle), and watched an episode of “Time Travellers” on TV (a British TV program dealing with history) which the Gudgins had recorded as it had to do with an excavation of colonial Jamestown (in Virginia) that uncovered evidence that most of the folk who had peopled that unfortunate early experiment in colonizing North America had been from Lincolnshire, including one man from Aslackby.
And that’s it for now – another truly idyllic day in the “Holy Land,” as we like to call it (winkingly).
*Here’s an interesting health-care debate for those so inclined: In Britain, pharmacists are given the authority to make prescriptions. Hence, if you go into the pharmacy at the back of a supermarket, or in this case, Boots (a “drug store” in American terms), and show them a rash on your foot, they can give you a medication that in the U.S. could only be prescribed by a doctor. We found this very convenient (and very effective on this specific rash), and probably tending to reduce the overall medical cost of any given minor ailment (thereby assisting in mitigating the spiraling cost of health care?). Good idea for the U.S. or not?
13 July, 2011
In this issue:
- E-mail troubles
- Back from MI and ND
- 7/17/11, Proper 12
- Travels and Tea with Tim & MB
- St. Martin’s at the Colorado Music Festival
- England Narrative, Part IV
I had to move the kruegerarts.org domain recently to another host (or server, or whatever the term is), and haven’t gotten it all squared away yet. I’ve tried to send two Musical Weeklies in that time, but it has clearly not gone out. So I’ve gone to plan B, and have decided to send it from my church computer and see how that goes. I had to do some tinkering with the list, so if this has come to you out of the blue, sorry. If you haven’t been receiving these for awhile, I apologize also (I have had suspicions for some months that the Weeklies were not going to everyone on the list).
We’re back from Michigan and North Dakota (as well as points in between) where many family were seen and much fun was had (I’m sure my High School English teacher is wincing with my use of the passive voice). I am very sensitive to humidity, especially in its hot form, so we lucked out in not having too many days in the 80º’s and none in the 90º’s. I even came back with a tan (a “farmer’s tan” to be sure). But all-in-all (and I mean no disrespect to those whom we visited), I’m very thankful to live in arid Colorado, where today’s high temperature of 86º and 25% humidity felt breezily cool compared to even 75º with 95% humidity.
I also take some pleasure in noting that I have only attended church one time in the last three weeks! The Bible says “everything in moderation,” and since I’m not at all moderate in my church attendance, owing to my job, I think it’s healthy to have had a Sunday or two free of any whiff of a hymn or a sermon! J
And, of course, things continue at St. Andrew’s this coming Sunday (10:00am) with the Summer Choir rendering the following anthems:
- Anthem: “Praise” by George Dyson (1888-1964)
- Communion: “Panis angelicus” by Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
The Dyson is the familiar George Herbert text “Let all the world in every corner sing,” very winningly set. And who doesn’t know the Franck? MB will be singing the solo, backed up by choir.
I have learned that there was a goodly turnout for Summer Choir during my absence. I am very glad to hear this.
MB and I are offering a “cream tea” at St. Andrew’s on Saturday, July 23, 4:00pm, entitled “Travels and Tea with Tim and MB.” We have prepared a power-point presentation of our pictures from England, and will give an approximately 40 minute light-hearted travelogue of the trip to England that I have been narrating in these last few Weeklys. A “cream tea,” for the uninitiated, is a sinfully delicious repast that features scones with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam, accompanied, of course, by tea (black tea, of course. Don’t get me started on so-called “herbal teas,” which are not tea at all! It’s like calling Root Beer a kind of beer. Anyway, don’t be put off by my tea-snobbery. If you want herbal tea, we’ll gladly provide it. Don’t be put off by the word “clotted,” either, for it merely means “thick and luscious”). MB is making the scones herself. And then, while everyone is packing their arteries with the clotted cream, MB and I will narrate an informative yet light-hearted selection of our pictures, projected onto a large screen. If you’re interested in the English countryside, ecclesiastic architecture, flowers, music, or all the above, you’ll love it.
The cost is $20, and funds raised will go to the St. Andrew’s music program, so it’s for a good cause (even if you don’t like black tea, or clotted cream). I am inviting – nay, cajoling! – you to consider attending. Indeed, I am banking on at least 25 of you from this list attending!
Please r.s.v.p. by July 21, so we know how many scones to make and how much clotted cream to purchase. Feel free to reply to this e-mail to do so, or call (303) 861-9574.
For the second year in a row, the Colorado Music Festival has invited St. Martin’s Chamber Choir to join their chamber orchestra in a concert. Last year we did the Bruckner Requiem to great acclaim; this year it’s the Fauré Requiem. Fauré published at least three different editions of his Requiem, the original with chamber orchestra, and the last one with full orchestra. The version for chamber orchestra is clearly what we are performing here. The choral parts between all the versions are absolutely identical – it’s only the accompaniment that varied. Also on the program are Haydn’s Trauersymphonie and a piece by Arvo Pärt the name of which I am blanking on at the moment. I think the word ‘Fratres’ is in the title…
I encourage you to come to this concert. It is in Boulder at Chautauqua Auditorium on Sunday, July 24, 7:30pm; and on Monday we are in Estes Park, in the Concert Hall at the famous Stanley Hotel, also 7:30. To purchase tickets, go to www.coloradomusicfest.org or call (303) 440-7666. I’m told that if you mention the code ‘SMCC’ (which stands for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, of course!), you will get a discount (not sure how much).
England Trip, Part the Fourth
Monday, May 16
After a good night’s sleep at the Gudgin’s – our first – we decided to spend the day in the immediate environs of Aslackby (I’m sure you remembered to pronounce it “Ay-zul-bee” in your head when you read that, right?). Our first stop was an unusual parish church in a no-longer existing village of Sempringham. This deserves a little historical background. In the 12th century a certain priest named Gilbert founded a monastery next to the parish church (called St. Andrew’s, coincidentally) of his native Lincolnshire village of Sempringham. He at first tried to affiliate the monastery with the Cistercians, but they wouldn’t have him for some reason, so Pope Innocent III gave Gilbert leave to found his own order, calling them the Gilbertines. They were the only monastic order founded by an Englishman. Gilbert built a large monastery outside the village, including a very large abbey church. After his death, Gilbert was canonized and made a saint, and his body was interred in a shrine in the abbey church. There were eventually 20-some Gilbertine monasteries scattered around Britain, but none abroad. Hence, when Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries at the Reformation around 1540, the order ceased to exist, because there were no Gilbertine houses outside of Britain to carry on. No one knows what happened to Gilbert’s bones, though there are some colorful local legends about them. The abbey land was given by the crown to a Lord Clinton, who promptly pulled the abbey down (including the abbey church – not to be confused with the parish church mentioned above, St. Andrew’s) and used the stones to build a large manor house. The village gradually died out, and the manor house, too, fell to ruin, and was eventually pulled down. By the 19th century, the only structure remaining in all of Sempringham was the parish church. The nearby village of Pointon adopted the Sempringham church as its parish church. Now the church sits alone in a field, stark against the sky in flat Lincolnshire.
Since our initial visit to Aslackby, and Chris Gudgin’s mention of it at coffee on that first day we met, the story of Sempringham and the Gilbertines has captivated me (and I have my own theory about St. Gilbert’s bones – I’ll tell more about this at the “Travels and Tea” mentioned in the last section, above), and I’ve gobbled up everything I can find about it. We walked across the wheat field to peruse the earthworks that are all that remain of the once-proud abbey. This was difficult, as they were covered with thistles and nettles and nasty tall weeds. The perfectly square cloister, however, was still evident in the earthen mounds and fissures.
We then made our way to the town of Stamford, made famous by having several recent British movies filmed there – “Middlemarch” and “Pride and Prejudice” (the more recent version, with Matthew McFayden and Kira Knightley). It is, indeed, a wonderfully preserved town, with four very large parish churches to visit. My favorite was St. Martin’s, which contains the very impressive tomb of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I’s faithful counselor (he was the dwarfish one in a recent film about Elizabeth – the one with Helen Mirren, I think), who was lord of the local manor (which is a very impressive home and gardens, called “Burghley House,” which we opted not to visit this year). We then stopped in Bourne on our way home, visiting the parish church there, which is usually referred to as “Bourne Abbey,” as the church used to be that of an abbey (see above about the dissolution of said abbeys). I particularly liked this church, having massive thick pillars, indicating a church of great age (probably Norman, i.e. 12-13th century), yet being quite tall. The church was purchased by townsmen from the crown at the dissolution to be their parish church; it hence did not suffer the same fate as the abbey church at Sempringham, although the rest of the abbey buildings were destroyed.
We had a lovely dinner that evening at home with the Gudgins, and then ended our day in the Hare & Hounds pub in Haconby (a couple villages over) for a pint. The occasion was the presence of a large throng of musicians, including some who had participated in the West Gallery Quire Event described in my last Weekly, playing genuine folk music. Very lovely, including lots of conversation with new acquaintances.
Before I close, let me merely mention how tragic Henry VIII’s reign was for Britain, from my point of view. Some may name him the founder of the Anglican Church, but this is only politically so. It was actually others like Thomas Cranmer and Queen Elizabeth I who gave it its unique character and should be so credited with its essential creation. Henry VIII was a money-grubbing, power-hungry spendthrift who raped and pillaged his own people much more thoroughly than any invading foreign prince could have done, confiscating whatever he could get, and destroying whatever he could not. This is not even to mention his six wives and their tragic history. So, next time you think of buying that cute Henry VIII refrigerator magnet at Heathrow, I advise you to refrain, and get some Cadbury chocolate instead. J
That’s all for this installment!
19 June, 2011
In this issue:
- Next couple weeks
- 6/26, Proper 8; & 7/3, Proper 9
- England trip, Part the Third
MB and I are off again for a couple weeks, this time for a road trip to visit family in Michigan (we get all our travelling over early this summer!). So I’ll include the music for the two Sundays we will be gone. Ralph Valentine will take the summer choir while we’re away – I encourage all St. Andrew’s choir members who can attend to do so, so that Ralph does not regret standing in for me!
I forgot to send myself a list of the music here to my home computer, so this does not include any of the hymns.
June 26, Proper 8, 10:00am
- Anthem: “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) (4-part)
- Communion: “Weary of all trumpeting” by Hugo Distler (1908-1942) (unison)
July 3, Proper 9, 10:00am
- Anthem: “All from the sun’s uprise” by Philip Tomblings (20th century English) (3-part)
- Communion: “Come unto me” by John Stafford Smith (18th century English) (4-part)
The Stafford Smith was chosen for two reasons – 1) the text is the Gospel of the day, and 2) he is the supposed composer of the tune that later became “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the coincidence of this Gospel coming on the Sunday closest to Independence Day was too enticing to ignore.
England Trip, Part the Third
Sunday, May 15, Pt. 2
Our hotel breakfast having been so copious, we felt we could do without lunch after church, so, setting off for Lincolnshire, as described in the last Weekly, we arrived at our destination at about 3:30pm, which was the home of Chris and Denise Gudgin in Aslackby (pronounced Ay-zul-bee, for reasons unknown to us).
Here’s how Aslackby came to be our home for the next four days: On our honeymoon in England in October, 1997, MB and I purchased a lovely little early 19th century print we found in an Oxford print ship which showed a quaint English village parish church with sheep picturesquely dotting the hillside beyond. The caption read “The Village of Aslackby.” We framed it and hung it on our wall when we got back, and I probably even looked up the location of the village in a road atlas thereafter, but soon forgot this. On a subsequent trip to England in 2008, we were staying with good friend Richard Harrison, chaplain at that time to Uppingham School, one of England’s premiere “public” (i.e. Americans would say private) Church-of-England schools, which is in Rutland, the neighboring county to Lincolnshire. One day we decided to go to Lincoln cathedral for Evensong, so we set out in Richard’s car, and I was the navigator. Suddenly I sighted that we were going to drive right through Aslackby, recognizing the name from our print. I suggested we stop in to see the village and church. We did so, and while in the church, we met Chris Gudgin, who is one of the churchwardens currently of the church. A pleasant conversation evolved into his inviting us back to his house (virtually next door, the Old Vicarage) for coffee. Little did we know, we had had a picture of the Gudgins’ house hanging on our wall for 11 years, because there, right next to the church in the print we had purchased on our honeymoon, is the very recognizable Vicarage, built in the early 1790’s. Well, we stayed in touch with the Gudgins, and this was to be our third visit to their house. Chris and Denise are both retired teachers, Chris having been headmaster at his school as well. They had been residents of Aslackby for many years before purchasing the Vicarage when it was sold by the church a decade or so ago. Since then they have nurtured the house with loving care, restoring and renovating this “Grade II Listed” house with no little tenderness (translation to Americans: Britain has a system for its landmark buildings that grades them according to historical importance and significance. Grade I is for places like palaces, cathedrals, medieval churches, City Halls, mansions, manor houses, etc. So Grade II is still fairly significant. It feels to us like living in a Jane Austen novel for a few days!).
Back to 2011, now. There is a quiet movement sweeping through Britain right now of something called “West Gallery Choir Music.” This, too, requires a bit of historical explanation. After the Restoration in 1680, and before the Oxford (or Tractarian) Movement of the 1830’s and 40’s, services in the Church of England did not much look like what one experiences today. They were what we would now describe as “low church,” with little ceremony, very minimal vesting of clergy or other ministers, little or no music (except at cathedrals or Oxbridge college chapels), and 2-hour sermons! In the 18th– and 19th centuries, galleries were sometimes built at the west end of the church to accommodate musicians, who would occasionally add an anthem or a hymn to the service. It must be stressed, these were not vested choirs, seen as co-ministers in the monastic or cathedral traditions. They were informal groups of villagers who sang and played instruments to add an occasional piece of music to the service; hence, they were not integral to the flow of the liturgy or what little ceremony there was. In fact, one could very aptly say that they were an interruption of “local color” that was tolerated by the clergy. They also used whatever instruments and singers that were to hand, and were thus not terribly picky about balance or blend or a particular instrumentation. Thomas Hardy’s novels have many scenes that take place in these “West Gallery Choirs,” and many of the characters sing or play in these hodge-podge ensembles. Hardy’s novels, and the recent researches of musicologists like Nicholas Temperley, and the enthusiasm of amateur musicians for a music that is essentially “folk” music, has given rise to “West Gallery Choirs” springing up in many a town and city across England. I would say that the American equivalent is the “Shape-Note Singers” one has heard of here and there, singing from “Southern Harmony” and “Sacred Harp” collections originating in the American Southeast and Appalachia.
Our friend Denise Gudgin, who seems to have no limit to the number of her ideas nor the energy necessary to carry them out, suggested to a local folk musician (Peter something…) that he start a “West Gallery Choir” in their area, encompassing some dozen or two villages to the north of the nearest town, called Bourne; and she offered her administrative and moral support in getting it going. This group was having its first concert, together with a Thomas Hardy Tea, and a raffle, that evening in the Aslackby parish church (the one on our print). Our arrival was a very happy coincidence with this event.
So, no sooner had we arrived in Aslackby and carried our things from the car to our bedroom, then we were carried away by the excitement and preparations for this event. Once the event got going, the Gudgins thoughtfully paired us up at a table with a couple from Lincoln named Bob and Kathleen so we wouldn’t feel surrounded by strangers while they were running the event, and we had a lovely conversation on a variety of interesting topics. Later we met the owner of the local manor house, Alan Baxter (so everyone refers to him tongue-in-cheek as the “lord of the manor,” even though he has no title), and he invited us to look around the manor gardens while we were in Aslackby. We bought five raffle tickets (£1 each). There was a wealth of food, which sufficed for dinner. Then came the concert itself, which was a wonderful event, mixing music with humourous readings from Hardy’s novels about West Gallery Choirs. It gave me the blueprint for a St. Martin’s concert sometime, and Denise (who had selected the readings) generously shared them with me should I move forward with this idea. MB and I were even mentioned in some opening remarks as people who had come all the way from Colorado for the concert. Afterwards, to our surprise, one of our raffle tickets won a prize – a compass! We assisted in cleaning up after the event, which included the agreeable task of eating a few more sausage rolls so they wouldn’t go to waste!
We concluded our day at the kitchen table in the Gudgin’s house having tea and catching up since our last visit in 2009.
It’s taken me two installments to include the events of a single day, I’m aware. Fear not, however – not all our days were so eventful, and it is my hope to fit several days into a single installment pretty soon here! J
I’ll miss one week’s Weekly while we are in Michigan, but expect the next in early July.
Timothy J. Krueger
30 May, 2011
In this issue:
- 6/2, Ascension Day Evensong with Eucharist (“musing” alert)
- 6/3, Confluence String Quartet Concert (“musing” alert)
- 6/5, Easter 7
First, my hearty and public thanks to all those who kept things going in my absence – Ralph Valentine, Don Warner, Brock Erickson, and the members of the St. Andrew’s Choir. It is really a load off one’s mind to know that such good-hearted and talented people are there to step in in one’s absence. Thanks!
I will be providing a serialized account of our trip in upcoming Weeklys, but not this one as it has grown quite long on its own, including two “musings” that I hope will elicit response from a goodly number of you.
Ascension Day is one of the five principal feasts of the Christian Church, but it is the most “incognito” of them, perhaps because it’s always on a Thursday, and not celebrated with a special service in many churches, but merely given passing acknowledgment on the following Sunday (this is in the liturgical churches, of course; the Evangelical Church of my upbringing does not acknowledge much of a church calendar at all – other than Christmas and Easter – and therefore such a thing as Ascension Day has no meaning whatsoever. It’s fascinating to look at the early history of Protestantism, and the virulent opposition which the more strident of the reformers put up to a church calendar as being too “papist” or Roman Catholic, perhaps redolent of idolatry, and objecting to the celebration of any special days. However, even the most “pure” of Protestants today have no objection to Christmas or Easter, I suspect – at least I’ve heard of none – and may even include things like Palm Sunday and Good Friday in their calendar. Other things catch my interest too – many modern Evangelicals have no objection to the idea of bowing or kneeling, especially in front of a cross [witness the bumper stickers of the cartoon character Calvin (of “Calvin and Hobbs” – the similarity of his name with John Calvin is just a coincidence) kneeling before a cross] – things that would have made the early Protestant reformers absolutely apoplectic if they knew that their modern-day adherents were “lapsing” into it. Funny how what is objectionable to one generation becomes acceptable to another, either because they forget their tradition and what their predecessors were fighting for, or because the context has changed so much that what was objectionable has, for one reason or another, been rendered neutral).
Anyway, before I got off on my “musing” tangent, I was about to say that there’s a lot of good music for Ascension, and I will be featuring some of it this Thursday. Here’s the list:
June 2, 2011, Choral Evensong: Ascension
- Preces & Responses: Tomkins
- Canticle of Light: “Coelos ascendit hodie” by Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
- Psalm 47: (Barnby in A)
- Service: Howells Collegium Regale
- Anthem: “God is gone up” by Gerald Finzi (1902-1954)
- Office Hymn: 214 (Llanfair)
The Stanford comes from the same set that includes Beati quorum via, and has a wonderful Amen that begins with the entire choir (all 8 parts) on a unison E-above-middle-C, and then spreading and blooming from there, the Sopranos going up and the basses going down, until a widely spaced chord is achieved. Magic! The Howells is a sheer masterpiece, with one of the greatest and grandest “Gloria Patri”s in the repertoire (the same one concludes both the Mag and the Nunc). And what is there to say of the Finzi except “Glorious!”
This is the final Evensong at St. Andrew’s until September, so make sure to get your “Evensong fix” this week, as there will be little opportunity over the summer!
The Confluence Quartet, which, in my opinion, is one of the finest string quartets in the Boulder/Denver region, holds a concert at St. Andrew’s this Friday evening, 7:00pm. Made up of Renée Knetsch and Lynne Glaeske, violins, Don Schumacher, viola, and Richard von Foerster, cello, they present a concert of the following interesting grouping of music:
- Walter Piston, String Quartet #5 (1962)
- Paul Hindemith, “Minimax”
- Johannes Brahms, String Quartet Opus 51, #2.
A $15 suggested donation at the door. I encourage you to come hear this group of fine players present interesting music (I have no idea what to expect from the Piston or the Hindemith! How exciting!) in a gratifying space – what more could one ask?!
Here’s another one of my “musings”: I am often asked “Why don’t we have more concerts at St. Andrew’s?” It’s the seemingly perfect chamber venue – great acoustics, visual beauty, intimacy of space, good lighting, free parking, central location, handicap-accessible church, etc. Well, the honest answer is ppor attendance. Whenever we have a concert, about a dozen St. Andrew’s parishioners show up, and the performers are left to create an audience from their own adherents. Frank Nowell and I made a concerted (pun intended) effort for several years to build a chamber series, presenting string quartets, violin/harpsichord duos, organ recitals, brass quintets, solo classical guitar recitals, you-name-it, creating a varied “series,” trying to build a following, sending out press releases . . . all to absolutely no result. I hence tired of the effort. Now, I don’t blame the parishioners of St. Andrew’s for this: There are a multiplicity of reasons for explaining why they stay away in droves (to use what I believe is a Yogi Berra-ism). The church is small-ish, at about 200 members, so even if one could say that 10% of a church automatically supports and attends a concert series, that’s only 20 people (whereas at a church with 1000 members, one starts with a base of 100). And, while most members are musically savvy and perhaps attend other classical concerts during the year, because the church has excellent music at services, this conceivably “satiates” most people in terms of their musical desires for music. In other words, a concert is superfluous as they get what they want at services. Also, St. Andrew’s tends to be a high-involvement parish: We are far above the norm when it comes to average pledge per parishioner (and not because we’re especially affluent); an unusually high percentage of members serves on multiple church committees or ministries; we have lots of things going on, so there’s no shortage of call on volunteers; members tend to be active participants in outside vocational and avocational activities like non-profit boards, charities, arts organizations, etc. In short, though the demographic of St. Andrew’s would seem to support the idea of a concert series, the reality of it is that we are too small and too “otherwise engaged.”
What would it take to get a concert series at St. Andrew’s to fly? I’m not sure. Comments from St. Andrew’s parishioners, or others familiar with church development and congregational behavior . . . ?
The last Sunday of Eastertide is this Sunday, the 5th of June. It’s the second-to-last Sunday with the full choir, and there’s just the one choral service at 10:00am. Here’s what I’ve planned:
June 5, 2011, Easter 7
- Introit: “Viri Galilaei” by G. P. da Palestrina (1525-1594)
- Anglican psalm chant: Richard Woodward (1744-1777)
- Anthem: “Geistliches Lied” by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
- Communion: “God is gone up,” by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1623)
- Hymns: 215 (In Babilone), 553 (Rushford), 218 (Deo gracias), 603 (St. Botolph), 483 (St. Magnus)
The Brahms is well known, having one of the most liltingly gorgeous Amens in all of choral music (Oh, that lowered seventh D flat!), but I think great enjoyment will be had from both the Palestrina and Gibbons, as well. Both of them are actually only “half” anthems – the Palestrina is the “Prima pars” of the anthem of the same name; and the Gibbons is the “Secunda pars” of “O clap your hands.” I’m abbreviating them for reasons of brevity, and because they both have extensive divisi and rehearsal time is short
Well, that’s all for this week. All the best!
10 May, 2011
In this issue (a long one!):
- New England
- Old England and Musical Weekly interruption
- Blair in B minor and St. Andrew’s choir
- Boulder Bach Festival resignation
- Evensongs 5/12, 5/19 and 5/26
- Sundays 5/15, 5/22, and 5/29
- St. Martin’s final concert of 2010-11 Season
It is interesting to note how many New England purists there are on my recipient list. Yes, I am aware that New York is not technically in New England; but I suppose I didn’t think that so many of you would rise up in arms about it! It dwarfs the whole Howard Hanson controversy, as, instead of three protests from transplanted Nebraskans, I’d say I had almost a dozen protests (much more strongly worded, I might add) about New York’s exclusion from that exalted group of states known as New England. Because of the apparent risk of offending any more of you, I will attempt to let this whole Howard Hanson/Eastman/New England issue rest now (if you will allow it). 😉
Speaking of England, MB and I leave this Friday for two weeks in the namesake of New England – that is, Old England (or Old Blighty, as Australians call it). It is our first time in England since January of 2009! We’ve not had so long an absence (2½ years) in our entire marriage, I believe. We will be seeing several members of this Musical Weekly recipient list (and apologies to several others for whom our itinerary and time does not make it practical). We begin our stay (after an initial night in a hotel we always go to first because of their wonderful Roman Baths, which helps us over jet-lag) in Lincolnshire with friends the Gudgins, who live in a picturesque village named Aslackby (and pronounced Ay-zul-bee – of course!). We met the Gudgins serendipitously on our last-trip-but-one when we wandered into the parish church where Chris is one of the churchwardens. Conversation led to coffee, and coffee led to friendship! During our visit, there will be a concert in the church by the Greenwood Choir (I think it’s called), who specialize in the “Western Gallery” parish church music of the 18th and 19th centuries, made famous in Thomas Hardy’s novel “Under the Greenwood Tree.” It promises to be great fun.
Then we motor across to Hereford, where we will spend four nights with the Taylors, who we also met on a trip to England, but longer ago (must be almost 10 years now). Stewart is the organist at one of the Hereford parish churches (avocationally), and all their children but one were choristers at Salisbury Cathedral, and have now grown up. We look forward to a foray into Wales with them, and perhaps to Ludlow and Leominster (maybe even to Tenbury again to see Ouseley’s grave and the fabulous but under-utilized organ there), or perhaps Abbey Dore, or Tinturn Abbey . . . who knows! I recall a trip to a rural Welsh pub with Mary and Anna where I was brave enough to eat “Welsh faggots,” I think they were called (the Welsh version of Haggis). Perhaps I will be so brave again!
We then spend four nights alone in a country hotel in Somerset, near the Quantock Hills, where our principal occupation will be walking (if the weather is good), both in the Quantock Hills and along the northern Somerset/Devon coast. Finally, we spend a night with the Pikes in Englefield Green (near Windsor). Lionel was my doctoral advisor while I was at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and he has been mentioned frequently in this Weekly.
Somewhere along the way, it is my hope to have lunch with two other parties – Ruth Jackson, an old post-grad musicology colleague from my time at Royal Holloway; and Philip Cannon, composer and one-time student of RVW, Hindemith, Rubbra and others (he was also acquainted with Finzi). St. Martin’s has commissioned a new work from him, to be performed in our June, 2012 concerts, to the George Herbert text, “King of Glory, King of Peace.” He having also received a commission from Her Majesty the Queen for a Te Deum in the 1970’s to celebrate the 750th anniversary of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, I like to think of myself in rather august company! 😉
Apologies to Richard Harrison, Martin Anderson, Rodney Williams, Richard Barnes, Barb Tennis, and others on this list for whom no opportunity to meet up was possible (largely because we’re not going to London).
As a consequence of this vacation, there will be an interruption for a couple weeks of this Weekly. I have therefore put all the music for the next two-and-a-half weeks below.
Let it be said In future times of the St. Andrew’s choir, in reference to their level of proficiency, that they learned Blair in B minor in a single rehearsal, and absolutely nailed it at Evensong last Thursday! I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of them.
Sadly, I have resigned my position as Chorus Director with the Boulder Bach Festival due to growing responsibilities at St. Andrew’s Church, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, and ongoing responsibilities at Metropolitan State College of Denver. It was proving very difficult anymore for me to make the commitments of energy and time that were necessary, and it had become clear to me that I could not continue to sustain it, especially with the choir and ministries growing so precipitously at St. Andrew’s. The good news is that BBF has hired a top-notch new music director, Rick Erickson, who will be doing some fantastic things with them in the near future, and I look forward to being a part of their success from the other side of the podium (i.e. the audience!).
MB and I will still be here for this Thursday’s Evensong, a feast of Tudor music as follows:
May 12, 2011, Choral Evensong: Thursday in the Third Week of Easter
- Preces & Responses: Smith (arr. for 4 voices)
- Canticle of Light: “O Lord, the maker of all things” by William Mundy (d. 1591)
- Service: Weelkes “Short” Service
- Anthem: “Almighty and everlasting God” by Orlando Gibbons (1583‑1625)
- Office Hymn: 489 (Tallis’ Ordinal)
Then, on the first Thursday of our absence, a quartet under Brock Erickson, one of my staff tenors, will sing the following:
May 19, 2011, Choral Evensong: St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury (A.D. 988)
- Preces & Responses: Hymnal (S26 & S22)
- Canticle of Light: S27
- Psalm(s) Plainchant
- Service: Tallis/Giles on the Fauxbourdons
- Anthem: Sacerdotes Domini by William Byrd (1543‑1623)
- Office Hymn: 279 (St. George)
The second Thursday of our absence will see a trio of women with the organ singing the following items, under the direction of Ralph Valentine, our organist:
May 26, 2011, Choral Evensong: St. Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury (A.D. 605)
- Preces & Responses: Hymnal (S26 & S22)
- Canticle of Light: “Behold, now, praise the Lord” by William H. Harris (1883-1973)
- Psalm(s) Plainchant
- Service: George Dyson (1888-1964) in C minor (unison, for trebles)
- Anthem: “Jesu, the very thought” by Eric Thiman (1900-1975)
- Office Hymn: 286 (Zeuch mich, zeuch mich)
If you are a faithful Evensong attendee, or not, don’t stop coming because MB and I will be away. Show your support of our substitutes! Plus, there’s always the sherry reception in the Common Room afterwards to buck you up!___________________________
Here’s the music for the two Sundays we’re gone:
May 15, 2011, Easter 4 (“Good Shepherd Sunday”) (Women of the choir only)
- Psalm: Anglican chant by Edward Bairstow in F
- Creed: monotone, harm. Jeffrey H. Rickard
- Anthem: Surrexit pastor bonus by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
- Service: Stanford/Krueger Unison
- Communion motet: “The Lord my pasture shall prepare” by William H. Harris (1883-1973)
- Hymns: 317 (Morestead), 478 (Monk’s Gate), 495 (In Babilone), 645 (St. Columba), 399 (Camano)
Just the women of the choir adorn Good Shepherd Sunday, ably directed by Ralph Valentine, with Don Warner at the organ. The Mendelssohn is a gorgeous SSAA piece with organ in a very leisurely, bucolic 6/8 time. The Harris is a setting of Joseph Addison’s metrical version of Psalm 23, which I like very much.
May 22, 2011, Easter 5
- Introit: “This joyful Eastertide” (vs. 3), Seventeenth Century Dutch Folk Tune, arr. Charles Wood (1866-1926)
- Psalm: Anglican chant by Barnby
- Anthem: “Greater Love” by John Ireland (1879-1962)
- Communion motet: “O Taste and See” by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1874-1958)
- Hymns: 455 (Dunedin), 1 (Christe sanctorum), 366 (Grosser Gott), 487 (The Call), 492 (Finnian)
Some of you will say that I purposely let them off easy in my absence by programming “O Taste and See.” While this may be true, you will see that I gave them quite a monumental feat in “Greater Love,” however!
Then, teetering from jet-lag but running on the adrenaline of a wonderful vacation (hopefully!), I will direct the following on the day after my return (now here I will admit to “letting myself off easily”):
May 29, 2011, Easter 6
- Psalm: Anglican Chant by Walter Parratt
- Anthem: “Praise to God in the Highest” by Sidney S. Campbell (1909-1973)
- Communion motet: “If ye love me” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
- Hymns: 400 (Lasst uns erfreuen), 398 (Forest Green), 386 (Cornwall), 228 (Webbe), 292 (Kingsfold)
While the Campbell is not easy in the strictest sense (especially for the organist), it is one we’ve done often at St. Andrew’s, so I know that the choir will need next to no preparation on it.
A couple weeks after our return, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir will be presenting the closing concerts of its 2010-11 Season, “A Mighty Fortress.” This concert features the choir with organ – something I’ve only done two or three times in the past – and consists of only four pieces:
- First half: 3 settings of Psalm 90, “Lord, thou hast been our refuge,” by Edward Bairstow, Charles Ives, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
- Second half: Herbert Howells’ rarely-performed Missa Aedis Christi, written for Christ Church, Oxford.
Assistant Organist at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Richard Robertson, joins us on these works. We perform it twice, but only once in Denver:
- Friday, June 10, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral
- Sunday, June 12, 4:00pm, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs
If you’ve never been to Grace and St. Stephen’s, and are up for an excursion to Colorado Springs, I definitely recommend it. I consider it the most beautiful church in Colorado, bar none, both inside and out.
All the best, and wish us a bon voyage! (not literally, i.e. as in 300 e-mails over the next couple days!).
26 April, 2011
In this issue:
- Whew – Holy Week’s over!
- Metropolitan State College Spring Concerts, 4/30
- Evensong, 4/28
- Sunday, 5/1
I don’t think I’ve ever been so well prepared for Holy Week as this year, my 17th at St. Andrew’s; but it was still a tiring marathon, albeit a stirring and fulfilling one, and I still noticed items I forgot about, or which could have been prepared better. But these paled in comparison to the deep emotional and spiritual impact of the journey through the entire week. It’s why I do what I do! I was pleased that several of you told me you were there at one service or another because you had read about it in this Weekly. St. Andrew’s is always welcoming to all, even if you’re not particularly religious – it’s one thing I like about the parish. Having been raised in an atmosphere of rather strong-armed evangelism, I am appreciative of the low-key and non-invasive approach to inviting and welcoming people that the Episcopal Church (the “Frozen Chosen,” as they’re sometimes called for their denominational introversion!) tends to employ. At least, that’s my view! J
The end of the semester approaches at Metro State College, so it’s time for our Spring Concerts – Saturday April 30, 4:00pm and 7:30pm, in the King Center Concert Hall, Auraria Campus. All four choirs are combining with the Wind Ensemble for an unexpectedly stirring program (I say unexpectedly, because, as it was in the planning stages, I didn’t know most of the music we would be singing, so I did not know what to expect). Here’s the program:
- “Lux Arumque” and “Equus” by Eric Whitacre
- “Sea Symphony” by Howard Hanson
- Two Festival Works by Gustav Holst (“Festival Chime” and “Turn back, O man”)
- “Song of Democracy” by Howard Hanson
Dr. David Kish, director of the Wind Ensemble at Metro, is conducting the Whitacre pieces and the “Sea Symphony;” I am conducting the two pieces by Holst; and Dr. Mike Kornelsen is conducting the “Song of Democracy.” I need hardly introduce Whitacre, who is the current “rock star” among young American choral singers (has his reputation made it across the pond, I wonder? You Brits can tell me). Hanson is an American composer who is probably poised for a revival – a mid-20th century New England composer, his was quite popular in the middle part of the last century, but was certainly out of fashion by the time I was at university (1980’s). In preparing these two pieces with the Men’s Choir, and hearing it in rehearsal so far, I am very impressed with them as works of art, and I am pleased to be making their acquaintance. Tickets are $10. I encourage you to come!
Choral Evensong starts back up this Thursday, 5:30, with an a cappella quartet singing the following:
April 28, 2011, Choral Evensong: Thursday in Easter Week
- Preces & Responses: TJK in A (SATB)
- Canticle of Light: Alleluia. Christus surrexit by Felice Anerio (c.1560-1614)
- Psalm 148 (Anglican Chant: Walmisley in A)
- Service: Samuel Arnold in A
- Anthem: “This is my commandment,” variously attrib. to Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) or William Mundy (d. 1591)
- Office Hymn: 192 Vruechten
Yes, I’m recycling some things from Holy Week (the Anerio from Easter, and the Tallis/Mundy from Maundy Thursday), but I hope I may be forgiven! Do any of you musicological types out there know whether this piece has been definitively attributed now to either Tallis or Mundy? I get tired of always citing both!
The full choir has been given this coming Sunday off, but a quartet of staff singers will be on hand to render the following, so that there is not a total absence of music at St. Andrew’s (may it never be so!!):
May 1, 2010, Easter 2 (“Thomas” Sunday)
- Introit: “Alleluia! Come, good people” by Katherine Kennicott Davis (1892-1980)
- Creed: S105 (setting by Calvin Hampton)
- Anthem: “Blessed be the God and Father” by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
- Communion motet: “O Sons and Daugthers” (O filii et filiae) arr. Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941)
- Service: Stanford/Krueger Unison Service (Gloria, Sanctus, Fraction Anthem).
- Hymns: 212 (Richmond), 209 (St. Botolph), 193 (Puer nobis), 204 (Noël nouvelet), 188 (Savannah).
So, as Tolkien so aptly said (although he did not intend this to refer to church musicians, but it does!), “The road goes ever on…”
19 April, 2011
In this issue:
–Holy Week Services at St. Andrew’s
- Wed. 7:00pm Tenebrae
- Thur. 7:00pm Maundy Thursday
- Fri., 12:00noon, Good Friday
- Sat., 7:00pm Great Easter Vigil
- Sun, 9 & 11 am, Easter Day
This is the marathon week, so I will keep extraneous comments to a minimum, and list the music for the many services this week at St. Andrew’s.
Tenebrae is conspicuous for a) the number (and length!) of the psalms, during each of which candles are extinguished until eventually the church is in complete darkness; and b) the singing of the Lamentations as the “readings.” 10 years ago I took the traditional Lamentation chant tone and harmonized it for a cappella chorus for use at St. Andrew’s. We’ve used it every year since then except for one (and I had many complaints that year!), and it remains my sole published piece (St. James Music Press). St. Martin’s recorded it on our CD called “The American Spirit,” containing music by American composers. Tenebrae is some people’s favorite service of the year (other people can’t stand it, naturally!). Another crowd favorite is the Allegri Miserere at the end.
- 8 plainchant psalms and canticles
- “Lamentations of Jeremiah,” Lessons 1-3, by Tim Krueger (2001)
- Responsories 1-3 by Healey Willan (1888-1964)
- Christus factus est by Felice Anerio
- Psalm 51 (Miserere) by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1654)
Maundy Thursday marks the institution of the Eucharist, recalling the Last Supper, including its ritual footwashing (which provides a lot of time for singing). These two foci make for a feast of love, principally – and there’s no shortage of music about love! An optional addition at the end of the service is the “stripping of the altar” in preparation for Good Friday, where everything is removed from the chancel that can possibly be carried out, including the pre-consecrated host to be used at the Good Friday service, which is taken to an “altar of repose,” at which vigil is kept throughout the night, taken in shifts by parishioners. I rather like how this particular addition lends a somber feeling to the next day, as Jesus was abandoned by all before his crucifixion. Here’s what I’ve planned this year:
April 21, Maundy Thursday
- Anthems at the Footwashing:
- “Peace is my last gift,” Plainsong, Mode I, harm. James McGregor (b. 1930) and MB Krueger (2005)
- “Drop, drop slow tears” by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
- “This is my commandment” variously attrib. to Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) and 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)
- Psalm 22 chanted as the altar is stripped.
- Hymns: 315 (Song 1), 581 (Cheshire), 173 (O Traurigkeit), 313 (Jesus, meine Zuversicht), 329 (Pange lingua)
In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve removed the “Alleluias” from the Friedell and replaced it with other text. This anthem is usually done on Pentecost, but pondering the text one day recently I was struck by how much more appropriate it is for Maundy Thursday (“when the bretheren used to gather…” “all our meals and all our living make as sacraments of thee…” etc.) It’s one of those pieces that sings itself, too (although it’s not a walk in the park for the organist).
We do Good Friday at St. Andrew’s with a very fitting solemnity. It remains one of my personal favorite services. Here’s what’s planned in terms of music:
April 22, Good Friday (12:00 noon – call time 11:00am)
- St. John Passion by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
- Processional Crux fidelis by King John IV of Portugal (d. 1656)
- The Reproaches by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
- Procession to the Altar of Repose: Hymn 166 Pange lingua
- Communion motet: “My God, my God, look upon me” by John Blow (1648-1708)
- Hymns: 170 (The Third Tune), 166 (Pange lingua) 168 (Herzlich tut mich verlangen)
The Blow anthem is a real classic – one of my favorites in all of Holy Week.
For many years, we did not hold an Easter Vigil at St. Andrew’s, the parish being small and parishioners encouraged to attend the Vigil service at the Cathedral instead. But since Elizabeth has been here, we’ve been doing this service, and this will be my third. I used to hate it when I was a staff singer at the Cathedral, because it was so long. I used to actually bring a book, because there were literally hours of inactivity for the choir while oodles of people were being baptized and confirmed. Anyway, I like it more now. The first half occurs in darkness, but then the second half is essentially the first Easter service. Since our new deacon does not currently know the Exultet, she will speak it, so I composed a hummed underlay to be sung by the choir while she is saying it, based on the chant that belongs to this ancient canticle of the church.
April 3, 2010, Easter Vigil
- Exultet musical underlay: TJK (2011)
- Musical responses to the Vigil Readings:
- Hymn 409 The Spacious Firmament
- “God is our refuge” by Wolfgang A. Mozart (1756-1791)
- Canticle 8 (S208)
- Sicut cervus by G. P. da Palestrina (1525‑1594)
- Canticle: Gloria in excelsis from the Communion Service in F by Harold Darke (1888-1976)
- Great Alleluia: S70
- Anthem: “Ye choirs of New Jerusalem” by Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
- Sanctus: [Stanford/Krueger]
- Fraction Anthem: [Stanford/Krueger]
- Communion motet: “Most Glorious Lord of Life” by William H. Harris (1883‑1973)
- Hymns: 187 (Straf mich nicht), 191 (Lux eoi), 186 (Christ lag in Todesbanden), 199 (St. Kevin)
The “Stanford/Krueger” bits I list above are an arrangement I made a few years ago of Stanford’s Unison Communion Service in D. I took his original, transposed it to C (better for the congregation), and rearranged it quite a bit, not just to accommodate Rite II language (as opposed to Rite I/1662 BCP), but to make it shorter and more singable. While the Gloria is drawn from Stanford’s original Gloria, the Sanctus is actually mostly drawn from the Jubilate, the Agnus Dei from the Sanctus, and the Credo from both the Credo and the Te Deum. About 10% of it is my own composition, in order to connect up bits that needed it, but the rest of it is Stanford’s music. I’m quite proud of it, and think it could be published someday for use by American Episcopal choirs who sing Rite II services.
The comes the moment everything’s been building up to, Easter Day. The full choir will sing both the 9:00 and the 11:00 services. By popular demand, the Introit is the same one sung to great acclaim on the last Sunday of Epiphany – a double choir setting of the first verse of Psalm 100 by Homilius (a student of Bach), sung antiphonally by the staff singers. The Bairstow is new to me, as is the Poole-Connor. Anyone know who Poole-Connor is? I have no idea!!
April 4, 2010, Easter Day
- Introit: Jauchzet dem Herrn by Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785)
- Anthem at the Asperging: Alleluia. Christus surrexit by Felice Anerio (c.1560-1614)
- Gloria: [Stanford/Krueger]
- Sequence: Haec dies by Charles Wood (1866-1926)
- Anthem: “Sing ye to the Lord” by Edward Bairstow (1874-1946)
- Sanctus: [Stanford/Krueger]
- Fraction Anthem: [Stanford/Krueger]
- Communion motets: “If ye then be risen” by D. Poole-Connor; and
- “Most glorious Lord of life” by William H. Harris (1883-1973)
- Hymns: 207 (Easter Hymn), 174 (Salzburg), 210 (Ellacombe), 204 (Noël nouvelet), 180 (Unser Herrscher [also known as Neander])
I hope to see a good number of you at one or more services this week, if you have the time. If you’re not particularly religious, or not particularly Episcopalian, and just want to come for the music, you are more than welcome.
All the best!
11 April, 2011
In this issue:
- St. Martin’s on the radio (KVOD) tonight
- St. Martin’s concerts this weekend
- 4/14, Choral Evensong
- 4/17, Palm Sunday
- 4/19, Stations of the Cross
I was informed by Charley Samson the other day (and then heard it on the radio this morning confirmed by David Rutherford) that St. Martin’s Chamber Choir will be the subject of tonight’s “Colorado Spotlight,” at 7 pm MDT on KVOD, 88.1 on your Denver radio dial (or 99.9 in Boulder). And I think this very Musical Weekly got referenced on the air this morning! You’re famous, if you are reading this! David asked “What’s on Colorado Spotlight tonight, Charley?” Charley replied that “Tim Krueger, founder, artistic director, and mouthpiece of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir…” and David said “more than a mouthpiece – he writes a lot every week…” And since both Charley and David are recipients of this Weekly, I suspect it was a veiled reference to it! I hope it wasn’t a hint that I am a tiresome bother and write far too much! 😉
Anyway, even if you’re not in Colorado, you can still hear the broadcast by going to the following website and clicking on the “Listen to Classical Music” button at the top of the page: http://www.cpr.org. So, all you Brits who receive this, get up at 2:00am (I think we’re 7 hours apart) and you can hear my pearls of wisdom on the radio, talking about the SMCC concerts this weekend, and then hear samples of the choir singing. I don’t know what Charley has in line to play by the choir, but I’m sure it’s fabulous!
Hosanna! The Music of Palm Sunday is the name of St. Martin’s concerts this weekend:
Friday, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 14th Ave. and Washington St.
Sunday, 4:00pm, Montview Presbyterian Church, Montview Blvd. and Dahlia St.
I put the “4:00” in bold above because there was an error in our newsletter that said it was at 7:30pm. I discussed the concert concept in detail in a previous Weekly, so I won’t do that again, but here is the entire list of repertoire for the concert:
First half (choir divided in two halves, one in gallery, the other up front; pieces sung in quick antiphonal alternation, no applause between):
Plainchant Ingrediente Domine; Victoria Pueri hebraeorum; Schubert Pueri Hebraeorum; Weelkes Hosanna to the Son of David; Hutchings Hosanna to the Son of David; Gibbons Lift up your heads; Amner Lift up your heads; Hammerschmidt Machet die Tore weit; Homilius Machet die Tore Weit; Graun Machet die Tore Weit; “All glory, laud, and honor” audience participating hymn ; Wood Glory and honour and laud.
Second half (all from the front)
Leonhard Lechner “St. John Passion”; Distler Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit; Schlenker Alleluia
At Friday night’s concert only, the 16-voice elite choir “Shadows” from Green Mountain High School, with whom SMCC has been conducting an educational residency this semester, will come on and sing Chilcott’s arrangement of “Were you there” between the Distler and Schlenker, and then join SMCC on the Schlenker.
Tickets are $30 Premium (limited availability); $22 General Admission; $5 Students, and may be reserved/purchased by calling (303) 298-1970 or going to www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org. I don’t expect either concert to sell out, since the seating capacities at the two venues is so high (600+ at both), so you can almost certainly get tickets at the door, as well.
The last Choral Evensong of Lent (as there is no Evensong on Maundy Thursday, 4/21) is this Thursday, and it features the following music:
April 14, 2011, Choral Evensong: Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent
- Preces & Responses: Hymnal
- Canticle of Light: S27
- Psalms 131, 132, 133; plainchant
- Service: Thomas Causton (c.1520-1569) for 4 voices
- Anthem: “Behold, How Good and Joyful” by John Clarke-Whitfeld (1770-1836)
Causton and Clarke-Whitfeld are not exactly household names, even among Anglican musicians; but I find both of these pieces quite pleasant, and the whole service is appropriately somber as we prepare to enter the solemnities of Holy Week.
The marathon of Holy Week begins this coming Sunday.
April 17, 2010: Palm Sunday
- Anthem: “Solus ad victimam” by Kenneth Leighton (1929‑1988)
- *Fraction Anthem: “Verily, verily I say unto you” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
- Communion motet: “Hosanna to the Son of David” by Thomas Weelkes (1573-1623)
- Hymns: 157; 154 (Valet will ich dir geben), 458 (Love Unknown), 168 (Herzlich tut mich verlangen [Passion Chorale]), 164 (Bangor)
The service begins outdoors (assuming the weather is clement), palms are blessed and distributed, and then a little procession around the neighborhood (it’s odd processing around skyscrapers!) before coming into the church to that most glorious of all hymn tunes (in my opinion), Valet will ich dir geben, “All glory, laud and honor.” The anthem (Leighton) is a tour de force with its labored beginning (summoning the image of carrying the cross), through to the violently dissonant organ chords, played full organ, at the end. The anthem is designed for Good Friday (the text references the “three days’ space,” meaning Friday, Saturday and Sunday), but since we don’t use organ on Good Friday, this anthem works better for Palm Sunday as we enter Holy Week, and we sing the “seven days’ space.” The Weelkes is sort of out of place, coming at the end of the service, yet referencing the action at the beginning; but I consider it a sort of echo of the early part of the service while people are taking communion (which is itself out of place chronologically, as the very nature of communion is in reference to the death and resurrection of Christ, and yet these things haven’t happened within the drama that plays out during Holy Week). This is the first year I’ve done the Weelkes with my church choir. It’s in six parts (SSATBB), but the choir has improved so much over the last few years that I’m now doing works with multiple divisi, and double choir works, as easily as kiss my hand (to use an 18th century phrase – my fellow Patrick O’Brian aficionados will recognize the phrase!).
Last year we instituted a new service on Tuesday of Holy Week, marking the Way of the Cross (or “Stations” of the Cross). There was no music, but this year I am adding a sextet of staff singers to sing seven different settings of the text “Adoramus te,” which is the text that is to be said between each station, as the party of acolytes and officiant processes from icon to icon on the walls of the church. We will alternate the plainchant setting of Adoramus te each time with a through-composed setting (i.e. all the odd-numbered stations will get the plainchant; the even-numbered stations a through-composed setting). The latter are by the following composers: Viadana (Italian Renaissance), Roselli (It. 18th cent.), Palestrina (It. Ren.), Lassus (Ger. Ren.), Clemens non Papa (It. Ren.), Gasparini (It. 18th cent.), and Nanino (It. Ren.). If anyone else knows of any good settings of this text, I wouldn’t mind hearing of them, even at this late date, as one or two above are rather long, or could be easily replaced by something better (or for use in next year’s service, assuming it is a success). I suspect that adding this music will add about 20-25 mins. to the service compared to last year, but then, going from 30 to 50 minutes is not egregious, especially when you get good music!
I’ll write about the rest of Holy Week next Monday; but here is an outline of the services/times:
- Tues, 4/19, 7:00pm – Stations of the Cross
- Weds, 4/20, 7:00pm – Tenebrae
- Thur, 4/21, 7:00pm – Maundy Thursday
- Fri, 4/22, 12:00noon – Good Friday
- Sat, 4/23, 7:00pm – Great Easter Vigil
- Sun, 4/24, 9:00 & 11:00am – Easter Day
Gird up your loins! What a marathon (but one I love and look forward to every year)!
29 March, 2011
In this issue:
- Preview of St. Martin’s Concerts
- 3/31 Choral Evensong
- 4/3 Fourth Sunday of Lent
On Fri. evening April 15 and Sunday afternoon April 17, St. Martin’s will be offering “Hosanna! The Music of Palm Sunday.” April 17 is, in fact, Palm Sunday this year.
For the uninitiated, Palm Sunday is a day of great dichotomy – it marks Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem upon shouts of goodwill and the marks of an apparent kingship; but then things quickly turn dark, and before we know it, he’s betrayed, arrested and executed. I sometimes think of the end of the American Civil War – all is joy and gladness as the destructive war has concluded; Lincoln, the architect of the North’s victory, and the great hope of all Americans for a fair and equitable peace, is suddenly assassinated by a disgruntled southerner, and the moment of joy is snuffed out. The North becomes vindictive and punitive towards the South, which was clearly not going to be Lincoln’s way, if he could have prevented it. Well, anyway, the moment of joy being abruptly snuffed out is the bit I’m referring to vis-à-vis Palm Sunday.
This dichotomy is what I hope to portray in this concert. The first half will see the choir divided, half up front, and half in the rear gallery. They will sing a quick alternation of 8-10 relatively brief pieces in this antiphonal fashion. Then they will each move to the two sides of the church, and sing a pair of pieces that are antiphonal in themselves. They will finally end together at the front with a triumphal and extended anthem by Charles Wood, “Glory and Honour and Laud.” All this will be choreographed without interruption from applause, and audience members will enter the intermission with an “up” feeling, I suspect.
Then the second half turns dark. German Renaissance composer Leonhard Lechner (student of Orlando Lassus) wrote a through-composed polyphonic setting of the St. John Passion (about 30-mins. long), narrating the story of Christ’s last hours. The choir will be arranged in three groups, a “Jesus” quartet, a “Pilate” quartet, and, standing with the full choir, a “Turba” quartet. This will spatially dramatize the portrayal of events, I’m hoping. At the end of the Lechner, the choir will sing Hugo Distler’s motet “Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankeit” (“Surely he hath borne our griefs” [to use KJV English]), which was his last composition before committing suicide at the age of 34 in 1942, under duress from the Nazis. This unremittingly desolate motet will hopefully bring the audience to its darkest emotive moment. I think, even though it was written 350 years later, the Distler perfectly complements the 1594 Johannes Passion by Lechner.
But the concert won’t end in complete darkness. Terry Schlenker’s beautiful but rather subdued Alleluia, written in 2007 for, and premiered by, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, will provide a premonition of Easter, and a small pin-prick of light and hope at the end. Additionally, towards the end of Friday night’s concert, St. Martin’s will be joined by “Shadows,” the elite chamber choir of Green Mountain High School, who will sing Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of “Were you there” before joining St. Martin’s on the above Schlenker. This represents the conclusion of St. Martin’s residency program with this High School Choir this spring, SMCC singers and me having worked during two intensive workshops with the excellent young singers and their director David Gleason.
Anyway, I hope the above information whets your appetite for this concert. We’ve put an unprecedented amount of work into this concert, and I think it will be magnificent! Buy your tickets now at (303) 298-1970 or www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org. I’ll include a more specific listing of works in an upcoming Weekly.
This week’s Evensong falls on the lesser feast commemorating John Donne, Anglican priest. He’s better known as a poet (“No man is an island” is one of his more famous poems, containing the memorable lines “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: It tolls for thee”). The Anglican church likes its poets and writers, especially, with feasts for Donne, George Herbert, Phillips Brooks, John and Charles Wesley, J. M. Neale, Evelyn Underhill, C.S. Lewis, Richard Hooker, and others, and I like this fact. It makes for a church that is aware of, perhaps one could even go so far as to say devoted to, the arts; and the arts are the most direct route to the Divine for many individuals. How many skeptical musicians do I know, for instance, who have trouble with the “head” part of Christian theology, but are moved by sacred music and art towards a more genuine spirituality than I have encountered in many a more traditional or “orthodox” Christian. So it is significant to me, at least, that the church acknowledge the importance of these things (and allow me one of my occasional and controversial rants here, this one against the modern day Roman Catholic Church, which has the greatest artistic heritage of any Christian church by half, and yet modern Catholics are subjected to musical dreck Sunday by Sunday, and the hierarchy of the church not only supports the ignorance of the faithful to matters spirituo-artistic, but engenders it by undercutting and devaluing musicians at every turn).
To get back to Donne, after a promising political career was cut short by his marriage (that would make a good novel), he was persuaded to become a priest, and rose to be the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (the old one, before it burned down in the late 17th century. The present St. Paul’s was erected on the site thereafter). I’m featuring my own Evening Service as well as my accompanying Preces & Responses (they share thematic material, making them especially appropriate to be used together, but they can be done separately). St. Martin’s recorded my Evening Service on our disk “The Unknown Masterpiece” of 2004, in case anyone’s interested. It’s my homage to Charles Wood. I am told it is sung occasionally at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Detroit, where my colleague and friend Jeremy David Tarrant is the organist (he was in a High School Choir that my wife was the accompanist of back in the 1980’s, in Lansing Michigan!).
March 31, 2011, Choral Evensong: John Donne, Priest (1631)
Preces & Responses: Krueger ATB in A
- Canticle of Light: “Sing we merrily” by Frederick J. Reade (1857-1925)
- Psalm: 27, Plainchant
- Service: Krueger ATB in A
- Anthem: “I will call upon God” by Charles Wood (1866-1926)
- Office Hymn: 140 (Donne)
Fr. Reade was the organist at Ely Cathedral, I seem to recall; and the text of the hymn we’re singing, “Wilt thou forgive,” is by Donne, and the music by John Hilton. All the works in this Evensong are for ATB only, so it’ll be MB, Brock, and me singing.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called “Mid-Lent Sunday,” and the austerity is lightened a little, with different vestments and a slight relaxing of solemnity. As a result, the choir is singing a plainchant mass during the 11:00 service, the Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. It’s the setting found on pp. 60-62 in the Liber Usualis, “For the Sundays of Advent and Lent.” The choir is singing it from the actual neumes copied out of the Liber. I am of the opinion that this makes for a more supple and organic rendering of the chant, even though there’s a bit of extra learning that needs to be done up front due to unfamiliarity with the notation.
April 3, 2011, The Fourth Sunday of Lent
- Anthem: “My shepherd is the living Lord,” by Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)
- Communion Motet: “O for a closer walk,” by C. V. Stanford (1852‑1924)
- Service: Plainchant Mass “For the Sundays of Advent and Lent”
- Hymns: 493 (Azmon), 490 (Houston), 339 (Schmücke dich), 466 (Jacob), 645 (St. Columba).
The Psalm this week is Psalm 23, hence the hymn St. Columba and the Tomkins anthem (from our new Tudor Anthems Books, Lionel!). The Tomkins has extended verse (i.e. solo) sections for alto and tenor, sung by MB and Brock.
Our organist Ralph is back after a minor if painful medical issue that had him in the hospital for a couple days. Don Warner, my capable friend and, essentially, the unofficial “assistant organist” at St. Andrew’s, filled in capably at the last minute on Sunday.
That’s it for this week. I look forward to the angry replies about my rant against the modern day Roman Catholic Church hierarchy! J
22 March, 2011
In this issue:
- Stephen Tappe, and Spring Break
- Choral Evensong, 3/24
- Third Sunday of Lent, 3/27
We were honored by the presence of St. John’s Cathedral’s organist Stephen Tappe at Evensong last week, where we rendered his arrangement of “Lord of all hopefulness” (Slane). Since he had to rush off to the cathedral choir rehearsal that evening and could not stay for the sherry reception, I did not get a chance to chat with him as to what he thought of our performance; but it proves to me that he reads my Musical Weekly, which is a great pleasure to learn!
The Wood “Sternhold & Hopkins” Evening Service proved very popular with both singers and congregants. My rector said she looked forward to hearing it again!
It being Spring Break this week for MB and me at Metro State College, I’m taking it easy (if you can call cleaning the house and car, doing your taxes, and running errands to take care of deferred personal items as “taking it easy!”) – plus there’s not much going on musically anyway. Hence, a short Weekly.
Friday is the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord – i.e., exactly 9 months before Christmas, so Mary’s getting a visit from Gabriel, and we are anticipating it on Thursday at Choral Evensong. Since we hear “The Angel Gabriel” so much in Advent, I refrained from programming it here, and went with less familiar items by Brahms and Victoria, both of which, however, are on the CD “A Marian Christmas,” in case you are one of those who love that CD to distraction.
March 24, 2011, 5:30pm, Choral Evensong: The Annunciation of Our Lord (anticipated)
Preces & Responses: Smith (modified for 4 voices)
Canticle of Light: Ne timeas Maria by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548‑1611)
Psalm: 40:1-11 (Plainchant)
Service: Orlando Gibbons “Short Service”
Anthem: Der englischen Gruß (“The Angelic Greeting”) by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Office Hymn: 264 (Song 34)
Sunday features Howells and Tallis – a good pairing, I think. Plus two hymns I’ve never programmed before – Moseley, music by Henry Smart (not to be confused with the hymn tune Mowsley), and Camano, by Richard Proulx (that’s pronounced “Proo,” in case any of you were wondering).
March 27, 2011, The Third Sunday of Lent
Anthem: “Like as the hart” by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)Fraction Anthem: “Verily, verily I say unto you” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
Communion: “I heard the voice of Jesus say” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)
Hymns: 700 (Moseley), 399 (Camano), 658 (Martyrdom), 690 (Cwm Rhondda)
When I was living in England back in the 90’s, I remember seeing a survey in the Church Times, or some such newspaper of the Established Church, that Howells’ Like as the hart was the most frequently programmed anthem that year in British churches. Little wonder, as it is of surpassing beauty, and yet is not so difficult that a parish choir and organist of moderate abilities can’t pull it off satisfyingly. Just think, therefore, what it will sound like with a fantastic choir and organist, like we have at St. Andrew’s! J The Tallis piece at Communion is his Third Tune from the Archbishop Parker’s psalm tunes – the one on which RVW based his “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis,” with its haunting Phrygian modality and plaintive tune.
That’s all for this week!