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In Tune

ECS Publishing Group Blog and News

  • Jennifer Pascual and Sounds from the Spires: Interviewing the interviewer

    Jennifer Pascual

    Jennifer Pascual is Director of Music at St. Patrick’s Cathedral since 2003 and the first woman to hold this position. She holds degrees in organ and piano performance and in music education, culminating in a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Organ Performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. She hosts Sounds from the Spires on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, where she interviews musicians and music lovers of all stripes.

    How did you get involved with Sounds from the Spires? 

    The Archdiocese of New York began a collaboration with Sirius XM in 2006. The Catholic Channel (now on Sirius XM, Channel 129) first launched in December of that year. It is 24 hours of programming of various religious topics, and of course, mine is about music. The Archdiocese asked me if I would host a one-hour per week program related to music to which I responded, “I have no radio experience, but I'll give it a shot! I work two blocks away from the studios, so I think this will work!” I have been hosting the program ever since and am one of the few original hosts that saw the launch of The Catholic Channel

    What is it like to prepare for the show?

    Other than the sound engineer in the room during the program, I do all the work myself. Each week I try to feature a different musician, and they can either be live in the studio with me or over the telephone. Guests range from instrumentalists, singers, composers, historians, publishers (Mark Lawson (ECS Publishing Group President) has been on my program before!), conductors, chant scholars, priests, seminarians, writers, organ builders, etc. Most of the time, I am featuring music composed and/or performed by my guests, and part of the preparation time is listening to their recordings. I travel a lot, so I often have guests from places I have traveled and am usually carrying CDs home from most trips! If I know someone will be in New York on a certain date, I try to reserve that date for that person, and keep the other open dates flexible. Sometimes people reach out to me and tell me they have a new recording out or they’d like their music to be featured on my program. If I don't have a guest on a particular date, I do the program myself and pick a composer who has a significant anniversary, or focus on a particular liturgical season.

    We all have a tendency to get stuck in our own little worlds, and if I hadn't hosted my radio program for almost 12 years, I think I would be quite out of touch with what is out there aside from cathedral-type music. I have a real appreciation for music that I am not necessarily familiar with, and even more so when the composer or musician tells the story behind it. Many times I find myself feeling generally exhausted and run down, and in speaking to some of these musicians who are so full of life and positive energy—it’s really encouraging. I hope that listeners get a sense of this as well.

    What are some favorite experiences you’d like to share? 

    Favorites… that’s a difficult one—like picking out my favorite dessert! Some of my favorite guests have been people from foreign countries who have become good friends of mine and my family’s over the years: two organists from St. Peter’s Basilicain theVaticanJames Goettsche, an American, and Juan Paradell Solé, a Spaniard—both have lived in Rome for many years. When I interviewed Solé in the studio, his wife served as the translator. Whenever my family and I are in Rome, we always try to visit with Solé and Goettsche over a meal. If I happen to be at St. Peter’s for a Papal Mass, one of them would find me and have me play the postlude!

    Another two favorite guests are from Russia: Marina Omelchenko, Principal Organist at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Moscow, and Fr. Daniel Maurer, CJD, an American who serves in Vladivostok, which is in far eastern Russia—he was instrumental in reopening a parish there after the fall of communism in the 1990s. Long story short, the former Roman Catholic Cathedral building would only be released to the Church if, in part, it were used as a magnet for organ music. Ms. Omelchenko was their first organist, and also was baptized in the parish after the suppression of religion was lifted. I was there in 2015, along with Ms. Omelchenko, to dedicate a new Diego Cera pipe organ, which was built in my mother’s hometown of Las Piñas, Manila, Philippines.

    On vary rare occasions I have had live performances —our own St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir did a Christmas program one year. Other live performances were Argentinian pianist Rosa Antonelli performing works of Argentinian composers, and New York pianist Eleni Traganas performing works of Alexander Scriabin on the 100th anniversary of the Russian composer’s death. On one occasion, I hosted Armenian duduk player Oganes Kazaryan, and he demonstrated that ancient Armenian wind instrument during the interview. He lives in Moscow and is a duo team with Ms. Omelchenko.

    What feedback have you received about the show?

     My hope is that people listening are getting something out of my program, whether it be musical ideas for their church programs, spiritual inspiration, exposure to new music or musicians or instruments that they’ve never heard of, or even just enjoying the music of the guests that I host.

    Some cool notes that I have received from listeners are, “I liked such and such a piece that I heard on your program and I will start using that at my parish,” “I’m glad I heard so and so and you mentioning their upcoming concert because I was able to attend,” “I listen to you all the time when I am driving in my car!” “I heard your show and I hope you consider my music to be played on your show.”

    Describe the connection between your work at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the radio show.

    If I were not at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I never would have been asked to host a radio program. It was a direct personal ask from the Archdiocese, and I am here to serve!

    I should make mention of the man who hired me at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Edward Cardinal Egan. He was on my show once, along with two other musicians whom he wanted to feature. Ideally, I would have wanted to interview him alone, but I never had the chance to do that before he passed away. He was my boss, but also my friend and a good mentor.

    I was responsible for the liturgical music for the 2008 visit of Pope Benedict XVI and the 2015 visit of Pope Francis to New York. I interviewed different musicians from different cities involved in those U.S. Papal visits—those were some very memorable interviews for me.

    In addition to the radio program, our 7:00 a.m. Mass is broadcast live Monday to Friday, and our 10:15 a.m. Sunday Mass is as well. I used to play the organ for the early Mass (which used to be at 8:00 a.m.) 4 times a week. The Cathedral Choir, which I conduct, can be heard on the Sunday broadcast from just after Labor Day through the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, and during other special liturgies when they are broadcast. One of the most memorable notes I received from a Mass listener was, “I listen to Mass every day when I commute to work, and it helps me to pray every day.”

    Our annual, standing-room-only “A City Singing at Christmas” concert is a favorite of The Catholic Channel staff, and they make it a point to re-broadcast it on Christmas Day. The two Papal visits, of course, were broadcast on The Catholic Channel, and I did a couple of solo shows featuring the music that was to be heard at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as at Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden.

    What first attracted you to the field of church music?

    I went to Catholic school, K-12. Playing the piano since age 5 was ok, but when I joined the choir in 8th grade, I saw that an organ was pretty cool. The organist was playing on several keyboards and with his feet. I only played the organ once during elementary school when the organist was late for Mass. Then in high school, after my organist friend graduated, I wanted to try it out as there was no one else to play organ for Mass. I was hooked onto the organ from that point on! One of my teachers told our parish priest that I could play the organ, and I have been playing the organ every Sunday since! The instruments in themselves are cool, but working with liturgical musicians is far more rewarding than sitting in a practice room, solo, all day for a performance stage. I consider myself to be a liturgical musician before a performer. The years of hands-on experience, education and networking have made me the person I am today.

  • Juliana Hall Performances - 2018/2019 Season

    Juliana Hall:  A Season of Premieres

    How Do I Love Thee?
    world premiere
    Saturday, September 29, 2018 – 7:30 PM
    Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project (CUSP)
    All Saint’s Church
    16 All Saint’s Road
    Princeton, NJ
    Soprano Martha Guth and pianist Erika Switzer present the world premiere of How Do I Love Thee? - 5 songs on sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    O Mistress Mine
    west coast premiere
    Saturday, October 6, 2018 – 8:00 PM
    Winifred Smith Hall
    Claire Trevor School of the Arts
    University of California – Irvine
    Countertenor Darryl Taylor and pianist Juliana Hall present the west coast premiere of O Mistress Mine - 12 songs on texts from plays by William Shakespeare.

    Cameos
    world premiere
    Thursday, October 18, 2018 – 8:00 PM
    CollabFest 2018
    University of North Texas
    College of Music
    415 Avenue C
    Denton, TX
    Soprano Molly Fillmore and pianist Elvia Puccinelli present the world premiere of Cameos - 6 songs on poems by Molly Fillmore.

    And It Came To Pass
    world premiere
    Wednesday, December 12, 2018 – 7:00 PM
    “A Contemporary Christmas from Britten”
    Ware Episcopal Church
    7825 John Clayton Memorial Highway
    Gloucester, VA
    Countertenor Charles Humphries and pianist Juliana Hall present the world premiere of And It Came To Pass - a canticle on the Story of the Nativity from the Biblical Gospel of Luke.

    Of That So Sweet Imprisonment
    world premiere
    Saturday, January 19, 2019
    Sparks & Wiry Cries
    songSLAM Festival III
    DiMenna Center for Classical Music
    450 West 37th Street
    New York, NY
    Mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Alan Smith present the world premiere of Of That So Sweet Imprisonment - 7 songs on poems by James Joyce.

    Through the Guarded Gate
    world premiere
    Friday, March 8, 2019
    Seattle Art Song Society
    “Womxn’s Voices”
    Ballard First Lutheran Church
    2006 Northwest 65th Street
    Seattle, WA
    Mezzo soprano Clara Osowski and pianist Juliana Hall present the world premiere of Through the Guarded Gate – 5 songs on poems by Margaret Widdemer.

    Sentiment
    world premiere
    Saturday, April 27, 2019 – 7:30 PM
    Calliope’s Call
    “Cross Connections: Juliana Hall”
    Old West Church
    131 Cambridge Street
    Boston, MA
    Soprano Laura Strickling presents the world premiere of Sentiment – a monodrama for solo unaccompanied soprano on texts by Caitlin Vincent.

    The New Colossus
    world premiere
    Date & Time TBA
    Montreal, Canada
    Bass baritone Simon Chalifoux presents the world premiere of The New Colossus – a setting of the poem by Emma Lazarus.

  • David Conte Performances - Fall 2018/Winter 2019

    Sunday, October 14th, 2018, 7PM

    “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”

    Joshua Trio:  Emil Miland, cello; Meredith Clark, harp; Ann Moss, soprano

    Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco

    http://www.annmosssoprano.com/calendar/2018/10/14/the-joshua-trio

     

    Thursday, October 18th, 2018, 7:30PM

    “In Praise of Music”

    San Francisco Girls’ Chorus; Valerie Sainte-Agathe, conductor

    Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

    https://www.sfgirlschorus.org/performances/anamericaninspiration

     

    Saturday, November 10th, 2018, 11AM

    ‘Soliloquy”

    David Higgs, organ

    Walter Holtkamp, Jr. Memorial Concert

    Gartner Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Art

    http://obits.cleveland.com/obituaries/cleveland/obituary.aspx?n=walter-h-holtkamp&pid=190140713&fhid=2995

     

    Fri-Sun, November 30th, December 1st, December 2nd, 2018, 8PM

    Solo Opera

    “The Gift of the Magi”

    an opera in one act

    Lesher Center for the Arts; Walnut Creek, CA

    https://lesherartscenter.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1042

     

    Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 10AM

    “The Gift of the Magi”

    an opera in one act

    Viva La Musica Opera Company

    Chandler Center for the Arts; Randolph, VT

     

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018; 7:30

    St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Oakland

    Saturday, December 16th, 2018, 4PM

    Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco

    “Two Winter Scenes” for SSAA Chorus, Cello, and Piano (World Premiere)

    Emil Miland, Cello; Young Women’s Choral Projects; Susan McMane, conductor

    https://www.ywcp.org/concerts/

     

    Saturday, January 19th, 2019

    “Sinfonietta for Eleven Instruments” (New York premiere)

    Sinfonietta of Riverdale; Mark Mandarano, conductor

    Christ Church Riverdale; Bronx, NY

    https://sinfoniettanyc.org

     

    Monday, February 25th, 2019

    FACULTY ARTIST RECITAL

    Works of David Conte

    SFCM Concert Hall

    https://sfcm.edu/events/david-conte-composition-1

     

    Friday, March 1st, 2019, 7:30PM

    “September Sun” (in memory of those who perished on 9/11)

    West Shore Chorale; John Drotleff, conductor

    Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Cleveland, OH

    https://sfcm.edu/events/david-conte-composition-1

     

    Sunday, March 3rd, 2019, 7:30PM

    Berkeley Hillside Club

    Monday, March 4th, 2019, 7:30PM

    SF Conservatory Recital Hall

    “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano”

    Left Coast Ensemble

    Jerome Simas, clarinet

    Eric Zivian, piano

    http://www.leftcoastensemble.org/community-events/2019/3/3/bay-area-spotlight

     

    Saturday, March 16th, 2019, 8PM

    “A Copland Portrait”

    Bay Area Rainbow Symphony; Dawn Harms, conductor

    Wilsey Center - Taube Atrium Auditorium, San Francisco

    https://bars-sf.org/concerts/

     

  • Responsorial Psalm Singing with the Five Graces Psalter, Part 2

    The Five Graces Psalter by Luke Mayernick The Five Graces Psalter

    Guest post by Kelly Dobbs-Mickus

    The new volume of Responsorial Psalms for the 3-year Lectionary by Luke Mayernik is receiving rave reviews from customers as an excellent resource for psalmody. This second post continues to explore the practice of responsorial psalm singing in the context of Roman Catholic liturgy using The Five Graces Psalter for reference. We hope that these reflections will be helpful to cantors and accompanists, no matter where they are on their liturgical music journeys.

    The first part of this post considered the liturgical role of the cantor as psalmist and then moved to the art of singing and accompanying psalm refrains. This second part will focus on the verses and psalm tones. Our context is a “regular” parish setting, but we acknowledge that all worship situations are not identical.

    As we discussed in part one, the psalmist’s role for the refrain is primarily about communicating the words and modeling how the assembly will sing the response. The verses are a much more complicated topic, and this post can really only scratch the surface. Because of that, we will concentrate on the most important points for psalmists and sprinkle in some information for accompanists along the way.

    The psalmist sets the emotional tone of the psalm, and should possess an understanding of this particular part of the story of salvation and how it relates to the other Scripture readings. An excellent resource for psalm spirituality is Sr. Kathleen Harmon’s book Becoming the Psalms: A Spirituality of Singing and Praying the Psalms. Preparation of the psalm must not be solely an exterior one; it is the psalmist’s privilege and responsibility to pray the psalms.

    Because psalm tones are unmetered, they allow for much freedom of expression. The psalm tones in The Five Graces Psalter are particularly expressive—they are melodic and harmonically fresh. (Listen to some samples here.) The downside of unmetered music is that it can be more difficult to interpret, due in part to how it looks on the page. How do we get past the notation to create musical prayer?

    The best place to start is with the words of the psalm verses. Read them aloud and study them apart from the music. Memorize them if you can. Here is part of the psalm for Immaculate Conception, Psalm 98:1–3ab:

    O sing a new song to the LORD,
    for he has worked wonders.
    His right hand and his holy arm
    have brought salvation.

    The LORD has made known his salvation,
    has shown his deliverance to the nations.
    He has remembered his merciful love
    and his truth for the house of Israel.

    Notice the natural stresses of the words, the punctuation, and the sequence of ideas. Make note of the emotional tone and strive to reflect it in your singing. Internalizing the psalm in this way is crucial for being able to proclaim it, and the bonus is that it will make the work of interpreting the psalm in song easier.

    The next step is to put the words together with the music. First, let’s define two helpful terms:

    1. Reciting notes are notes that have multiple syllables under them. It is important to sing the words/syllables under reciting notes with their proper stresses, and not plow through them in a robotic or quick fashion simply because the pitch doesn’t change.
    2. Cadential notes lead into the cadence of each phrase. It is important to observe proper stresses for these notes as well, keeping in mind that, although the note is changing, the syllable may be an unstressed one. (The two sets of brackets under the second cadential note indicate that psalmists and accompanists skip those notes/chords.)
    All examples: Verses from The Revised Grail Psalms, Copyright © 2010, Conception Abbey/The Grail, admin. by GIA Publications, Inc. Setting Copyright © 2017 Birnamwood Publications (ASCAP), A division of MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted for educational use only.

    Here is the first line of Verse 1, notated first showing a poor interpretation, and second showing a good interpretation.

    These two brief examples lend insight into the many variables that exist when interpreting each phrase of a psalm, and how much preparation on the part of the psalmist is needed to communicate the psalm well to the assembly. Go back to the first example and try singing Verses 2 and 3, making sure not to emphasize unaccented syllables, speed through syllables under reciting notes, or unduly lengthen cadential notes.

    There are different types of tones within Mayenik’s Five Graces Psalter. Each phrase of the tone just discussed has a reciting tone and then a cadence with multiple chords. In that kind of tone, it is easy to mis-accent the cadential notes because, after singing several syllables on one pitch, it is natural to emphasize the changing pitch.

    Here is an example of a different kind of tone, from the First Sunday of Advent C.

    This tone is less complicated, because each phrase has a second reciting note rather than multiple cadential notes. This means fewer opportunities for mis-accenting syllables. However, it is still important to find the word accents within the reciting notes, and the fact that there are two reciting notes means that there are fewer syllables under each, which has its own issues. For example, how do you treat a single syllable under a reciting tone, such as “Teach” in the second phrase of Verse 1? My vote would be to lengthen that note a bit, but you and your accompanist might agree on a different approach.

    Two other features of this tone are 1) a repeated phrase at the end of the first verse, indicated by brackets, and 2) an optional cue note on the penultimate chord of each verse. (Cue notes are also included in the first example.) Cues indicate optional notes that a cantor or choir might use for variation on one or more verses. The introduction to the psalter has more information on cue notes, especially for use with choirs.

    There is a third kind of tone that is a combination of the two already discussed. Look at the third and fourth phrases of Psalm 51 for Ash Wednesday and you will find both a second reciting tone and cadential notes. Try singing through those phrases for an idea of the interpretation issues involved.

    Now that we have talked about reciting and cadential notes and natural word accents, let’s move to breathing. There is no single correct method for when to breathe. The easiest way to talk about breathing is to link it to punctuation. There is little argument for breathing at periods, colons, or semi-colons. Keep in mind that taking a breath usually implies a lengthening of the syllable that precedes the breath.

    It is often appropriate to breathe at a comma, but not always. I recently heard this good tip: When there are two commas close to each other, breathe/break at one, not both. In the first phrase of Verse 1 above, breathing both before and after “O God” feels choppy. However, there is also a way to use a break in the sound, not an actual breath, for a smaller separation. Another option is to lengthen the syllable that precedes the comma, even if you don’t breathe or break at the comma.

    The Ash Wednesday example has unusually long phrases in the first two lines which require attention. Breathing after “God” in the first line and after “compassion” in the second line will be a necessity for many psalmists. But even if a singer didn’t need to breathe there, doing so will improve the assembly’s understanding of the text. To underscore the breaths, the accompanist might repeat the chord, or perhaps tie the melody note and repeat the other notes.

    A less obvious practice in singing psalm verses concerns connecting phrases by avoiding breaths between them. It can be appropriate to do this when the two phrases of text have no separating punctuation or when a connection of the meaning is otherwise implied. In the Psalm 51 example, look at phrases 3 and 4 of Verse 4. The psalmist could breathe after “Lord,” and then connect “lips” with “and,” and the accompanist could underscore this by connecting the chords.

    It should be obvious that if the accompanist and psalmist do not rehearse and agree on the details of breathing, the interpretation will suffer. When these points regarding breathing are understood by the accompanist, s/he will be free to underscore the interpretation in other ways: the volume/voicing of the accompaniment, the registration/octave of the accompaniment, articulation, alternate harmonizations, etc. In addition to those factors, the accompanist and psalmist should decide how to begin the phrases of each verse—there is some freedom here. For example, the accompanist could play the first chord of each verse before the psalmist enters, but could begin the following phrases with the psalmist. The accompanist’s role during the verses is to creatively support the psalmist without calling attention to the accompaniment. When the refrain comes around, the accompanist becomes the leader again.

    These are but a few of the many nuances involved in singing psalm tones. The previous emphasis placed on internalizing the text cannot be overstated; without this personal connection to the psalm itself, the details that should enable its prayerful expression will instead get in the way. Even experienced psalmists should continually ask themselves how well they are interpreting, communicating, and praying the psalm—how well they are fulfilling their ministry.

    Visit our website for more information on The Five Graces Psalter, especially the options for both print and downloadable versions, and the sample recordings.
  • Ronald Arnatt (1930–2018): A Remembrance by Stanley M. Hoffman

    Ronald Arnatt Ronald Arnatt

    My first memories of Dr. Ronald (“Ron”) Arnatt came during the early to mid-1990s when I worked as an editor at Scores International music engravers (formerly Commonwealth Digital). ECS Publishing was one of our main clients; both companies were in downtown Boston not far from one another. Ron would often stop by our office to drop off edited manuscripts for engraving, or to pick up completed projects which we delivered on floppy disks; sometimes I delivered those disks to the ECS office. I would ask Ron how he was doing, and he sometimes replied, “I’m in a bit of a rut,” in his quite pronounced English accent. To my knowledge, he never took to technology in a big way other than to email. So, with the advent of music engraving technology, he found himself somewhat out of his element. I was nonetheless struck by how knowledgeable he was and, above all, how very kind and gentlemanly.

    In 1998, I was hired to work as Editor for ECS by its former owner, the late Robert (“Bob”) Schuneman. One of the primary functions of an editor at a music publishing company is vetting submissions to help the owner decide whether to accept them for publication, or to turn them away. For many years Ron was by my side, usually weekly, filling out evaluation forms for submissions. His informed comments were invaluable to Bob and me because of the keen insights he gained from his formidable experience as a composer, editor, organist, and conductor in both England and the US.

    We worked together as co-editors of various titles more times than I can recall. We also had many good times together, both at work and socially, especially when ECS would have occasional staff parties and picnics. Even when things got slightly tense at work (as is bound to happen when people work at a business together for years at a time), he was always exceedingly civilized in how he comported himself, a real role model on how to live life fully and yet somehow gently. I was honored to serve as editor for many of his fine musical compositions and arrangements and, in turn, to have Ron critique my own compositions and arrangements. In all aspects of his work, he often thought of things in ways that I might not have considered otherwise, which was incredibly valuable. He is the only person in my life I can truly refer to as both a mentor and a friend.

    As the years went on, Ron’s hours at work grew gradually fewer and farther between until he eventually retired; I forget precisely what year that took place. He also eventually retired from his other job as Director of Music and Organist at St. John’s Church in Beverly Farms, MA. He and his lovely wife, Carol, whose death preceded his, were both battling various afflictions at the time, so he decided that it was best that they move to where there was family. After that, I could always count on exchanging emails and holiday cards with Ron for as long as he was able to write them.

    Ron passed away on August 23, 2018. May both his memory and his musical legacy be blessings.

    Below is a touching video of him playing piano at his house in Beverly Farms, MA.


    Dr. Ronald Arnatt (1930-2018) had an exceptional professional career spanning both sides of the Atlantic. After receiving his music education at Trinity College, London, and Durham University in England, he emigrated to the United States.

    In the United States, Dr. Arnatt held professorial or Director of Music positions at Trinity Church in Boston, Westminster Choir College in Princeton, American University, Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, the University of Missouri, and with the St. Louis Chamber Orchestra and Chorus.

    He is known internationally for his choral, organ, and brass compositions. Dr. Arnatt was a Past President of the American Guild of Organists. His final post was Director of Music and Organist at St. John's Church in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.

  • Juliana Hall's Art Songs March Across America for Women's Rights

    Guest post by David Sims

    Part I

    Every now and then a project comes along that is so unique and so meaningful that a composer cannot refuse the opportunity. So says composer Juliana Hall, whose new mezzo-soprano song cycle Through the Guarded Gate is the result of such a project. Through the Guarded Gate was commissioned by the Seattle Art Song Society (SASS) for performance on its 2018-2019 season, which is devoted to issues of social justice.

    SASS General and Artistic Director Brian C. Armbrust writes:

    Our 18-19 season is called "One Voice." This season means so much to so many of us. The idea started when I looked around at all my fellow artists and saw this heavy weight that we are carrying during a dark time. We have a unique and powerful method of delivery of a much needed message in a time when the world seems turned on its head. I'm inspired by my queer community to make our voices heard; I weep at death from wars and cries for peace in a time when we seem to constantly be fighting with one another, I pray for it all to end; I watch with disgust and great sorrow as racist voices are given time on the news, as our black brothers and sisters are threatened daily by injustice and loss; I glow with a pride as the womxn of this nation stand up and say "NO!" to inequality, and can say #MeToo and be heard; I get up every single day and walk into an office where we serve community members that are looked down upon for mental illness and help them fight to reach recovery despite what others say. To each of you, we dedicate this season. We will lift your voices and they will be heard in glorious song."

    Reflecting Armbrust's vision, the 18-19 SASS concerts include songs fitting the themes of "Queer Voices" in October, "Voices of War & Peace" in November, "Black Voices" in February, "Womxn's Voices" in March, and "Voices of Mental Health" in May. Hall's Through the Guarded Gate is being presented on Friday, March 8, 2019 as part of the "Womxn's Voices" concert. Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski will sing the world premiere of the new cycle with Hall herself at the piano.

    One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society

    When commissioning Hall, however, SASS's Armbrust wasn't content to just have the premiere in Seattle. It occurred to him that, in this time of #MeToo and women's rights being front and center in culture, Hall's song cycle--with its powerful settings of American poet Margaret Widdemer's social justice texts--had the possibility to bring an important message to people beyond Seattle. His idea developed into a "women's march" across the country...a project to have Hall's new songs performed in all 50 states after the premiere, bringing Hall's settings and Widdemer's poems to all of the US! To that end, Armbrust has enlisted more than 170 mezzo-sopranos from all 50 states (and many foreign countries as well), each of whom will get an early look at the score with the option to participate in the project. Singers will participate in "Beyond the Guarded Gate,"(the name selected by vote from participants after being suggested by mezzo GeDeane Graham), by agreeing to perform the song cycle on a recital between March 2019 and December 2019 following the official SASS world premiere. E. C. Schirmer is providing each singer and pianist taking part in "Beyond the Guarded Gate" with a complimentary digital copy of the work for use in the performance.

    Composer Juliana Hall describes the ideas expressed by poet Margaret Widdemer in the songs of Through the Guarded Gate and her approach to those ideas as follows:

    “The Net”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often girls) here within our own country used for whatever nefarious purposes adults may have for them, as we turn our heads away from the injustices that hurt them (especially when they are not "ours" personally)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in gender.

    “A Mother To The War-Makers”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often boys) when they are sent abroad, as the leaders of our nation use them under the guise of national defense (as a pretense for masculine leaders to become wealthy, acquire power, and exert national domination over other nations)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in societal status, offspring of the less affluent, less educated, less "acceptable" ethnic or racial groups.

    “The Old Suffragist”
    The "early" woman standing up for equal personhood, equal rights, but at the expense of a personal life rich with love and attachment (woman no longer "accepting" a second-class role in a world hitherto ruled by those men not acknowledging the natural equality of human beings)...women placing themselves in danger and depriving themselves of life's easier and better things as a way to make a path to those better things for others who will follow.

    “The Modern Woman To Her Lover”
    The "modern" woman taking on the responsibility of equal personhood, equal rights, without permission of the man but benefiting both genders (women no longer "accepting" a second-class love)...women as equals, in a world in which man may feel "belittled" by having to share with his mate...hence the question at the end: "Will you love me still?" At once both fearful and hopeful.

    “The Women's Litany”
    The community of women and like-minded men, demanding equal rights and responsibilities for both genders for the betterment of mankind (women and men both raising their voices against the holders of society's power and claiming their right to be admitted "through the guarded gate" that stops women from exerting their abilities and their insights and their communal "will" towards fixing the problems described in the first four poems)...adults identifying the path through which they must travel to effect permanent change, and a rallying cry in favor of a more equal representation and a more equal responsibility for fixing the injustices and the fears of the first poems, as well as a hope for a better future made possible by the inclusion of women as equals.

    In a later update to this story, we will begin featuring information about post-premiere concerts and the performers who will bring these songs to life across America as part of the "Beyond the Guarded Gate" project, but for now we are very excited for Juliana Hall and the possibility of as many as 200 additional performances of her new cycle Through the Guarded Gate as part of this unique initiative.

    Through the Guarded Gate will become generally available for sale next March. Until then, check out Seattle Art Song Society's concert season and, if you are in the area, we hope you will be able to attend the world premiere of  the cycle as part of their “Womxn’s Voices” recital on Friday, March 8, 2019.

    You might also find the poems of Margaret Widdemer interesting, which we've included below. These are the five poems set to music by Juliana Hall in Through the Guarded Gate.

    THE NET

    The strangers’ children laugh along the street:
    They know not, or forget the sweeping of the Net
    Swift to ensnare such little careless feet.
    And we—we smile and watch them pass along,
    And those who walk beside, soft-smiling, cruel-eyed—
    We guard our own—not ours to right the wrong!
    We do not care—we shall not heed or mark,
    Till we shall hear one day, too late to strive or pray,
    Our daughters’ voices crying from the dark!

    A MOTHER TO THE WAR-MAKERS

    This is my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken,
    Never again to speak or waken.
    This, that I gave my life to make,
    This you have bidden the vultures break—
    Dead for your selfish quarrel’s sake!
    This that I built of all my years,
    Made with my strength and love and tears,
    Dead for pride of your shining spears!
    Just for your playthings bought and sold
    You have crushed to a heap of mold
    Youth and life worth a whole world’s gold—
    This was my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken—
    This—that shall never speak or waken!

    THE OLD SUFFRAGIST

    She could have loved—her woman-passions beat
    Deeper than theirs, or else she had not known
    How to have dropped her heart beneath their feet
    A living stepping-stone:
    The little hands—did they not clutch her heart?
    The guarding arms—was she not very tired?
    Was it an easy thing to walk apart,
    Unresting, undesired?
    She gave away her crown of woman-praise,
    Her gentleness and silent girlhood grace,
    To be a merriment for idle days,
    Scorn for the market-place:
    She strove for an unvisioned, far-off good,
    For one far hope she knew she should not see:
    These—not her daughters—crowned with motherhood
    And love and beauty—free.

    THE MODERN WOMAN TO HER LOVER

    I shall not lie to you any more,
    Flatter or fawn to attain my end—
    I am what never has been before,
    Woman—and Friend.
    I shall be strong as a man is strong,
    I shall be fair as a man is fair,
    Hand in locked hand we shall pass along
    To a purer air:
    I shall not drag at your bridle-rein,
    Knee pressed to knee shall we ride the hill;
    I shall not lie to you ever again—
    Will you love me still?

    THE WOMEN’S LITANY

    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Lips set smiling and face made fair
    Still for you through the pain we bare,
    We have hid till our hearts were sore
    Blacker things than you ever bore:
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Light held high in a strife ne’er through
    We have fought for our sons and you,
    We have conquered a million years’
    Pain and evil and doubt and tears—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    We have held you within our hand,
    Marred or made as we broke or planned,
    We have given you life or killed
    King or brute as we taught or willed—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!
    We are blind who must guide your eyes,
    We are weak who must help you rise,
    All untaught who must teach and mold
    Souls of men till the world is old—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!

    Note:
    Margaret Widdemer lived from 1884 to 1978. Although virtually unknown today, she shared the 1919 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry with the famous and very well-known poet Carl Sandburg.

    Juliana Hall and Brian Armbrust are happy to be able to share Widdemer's wonderful work with audiences of today, bringing back a major poetical talent who up to now has more or less disappeared in the shadow of her Pulitzer co-winner. Hall and Armbrust hope these songs will not only enliven today's conversations about the rights of women and children, but they also hope these performances will finally help Widdemer to receive the public acknowledgment and acclaim for her work they feel she deserves.

    The poems of Margaret Widdemer reprinted here are in the public domain.

  • From the Creators: Henry Mollicone + Judith Fein on Hotel Eden

    Click here to watch the complete opera

    Judith Fein: When composer/conductor Henry Mollicone asked me to write the libretto for Hotel Eden, he said it had to be based on the Bible. I had one immediate thought: it has to be from the point of view of the women. No, that isn’t entirely true. I also had a second immediate thought––it has to be funny and moving, just like the women I know. I was a Hollywood screenwriter at the time, and I would push my film and TV scripts to the side of my desk, and plunge into the world of those women who sometimes hide and sometimes leap off the pages of the Hebrew Bible.

    I heard, through the rumor mill, that Adam had a wife before Eve. Really? My days became consumed by #1, whose name was Lilith. She sometimes wanted to be on top, and she certainly wanted equality….so Adam got rid of her. She became demonized as an evil spirit of the night who steals babies. That was a hard demonic lump to swallow. What happened next, we all know: Adam was sleeping and Eve was born from his rib. Hmmmm. So I thought: what happens if Adam and Eve are newlyweds, and they check into the Hotel Eden for their Honeymoon?  All is romantic, lovely, cutesy, and then Adam goes out to kill a snake he has heard is slithering around in the garden of the hotel. He wants to protect his lovely Eve. And then, Lilith shows up. She wanders into the room, where she once stayed with her husband a long time ago. She asks Eve if she is married.

    What ensues next is a duet between Lilith and Eve. Lilith sings about her abusive, cruel, punishing husband, and Eve sings about her hunky hubby who loves and adores her. And then the door opens, and Adam walks in. OMG. Double OMG. The women look at him and at each other. It is a terrible moment for all three of them. And guess who gets the boot?

    Next, I started thinking about Noah, who was the first drunk. When that ark landed, the first thing he did was plant a vineyard. Well, he had children, so he must have had a wife. What about her? What was it like to be married to a drinker? Back to the Hotel Eden we went, where a middle aged couple, Noah and Mrs. Noah, have checked in to celebrate the former’s abstinence, and the latter’s relief at having her husband back from the clutches of alcohol. What happens, sadly, is that this was before AA, and, when Mrs. Noah is out of the room, Noah takes to the bottle, falls into the bathtub, turns on the water, and floods the hotel. When Mrs. Noah returns, she has had it. She sings her breakout number to the staff of the hotel: Please don’t call me Mrs. Noah. Enough of Mrs. Noah. In Spain I’m Señora Noah. In France, it’s Madame Noah. For Pete’s sake, call me by by real name. And then she cuts up with the hotel staff. So what happens to their marriage? Does Noah see the light? Does she stay or go? And what does the hotel Director (aka the boss of the universe) have to say about that? You can be sure that Henry went to town with the music, which whisks Mrs. Noah around the world in her extravagant #MeToo aria.

    It was natural, then, to think of advancing years, and that led me to another complex couple: Abraham and Sarah. They sing in lyrical astonishment about how fast the years have gone by, and how gray they are now. Throughout their marriage, Sarah couldn’t conceive, and so she now suggests that Abraham sleep with Hagar, her handmaiden, who was purportedly Egyptian. By doing that, there would be an heir. Abraham (affectionately called Abie) sleeps with Hagar and they have a baby—Ishmael.  All seems calm in the Hotel Eden in Abraham and Sarah’s room, until….Sarah starts feeling nauseous, and then they find out that, at age 90, she is pregnant. They immediately start thinking about what they will name the child—and they decide, in a comic sequence, to call him Isaac. Sarah’s birth takes place onstage (don’t worry, she’s covered up to protect the innocent) and little Isaac is born to much joy and celebration. Except for Hagar. She has a sense this is not going to bode well. And she is right. Sarah wants Hagar and Ishmael gone…and Abraham bows to her request and banishes Hagar and Ishmael.

    Maybe, in this third and final act, the adults are too anchored in their positions to change things. But luckily, there is a younger generation—Ishmael and Isaac. And through them, there is hope for the future of Jewish/Arab relations and for peace.

    When Henry and I finished the opera, we took a very deep breath and wondered how it would be received. We were grinning when the audience howled with laugher, grew very silent and pensive, and then bounded to its feet... and the critics were very kind and positive. Thank you, Opera America, for funding the development of Hotel Eden.

    Now I am a travel journalist, and, lucky me, I get to travel around the world (like Mrs. Noah, but my husband, my soulmate, is the opposite of her mate who has lost his bearings) writing about (and my husband photographing) other cultures. I also write about opera, and live in the bosom of the Santa Fe Opera. Last summer, we went to the entire Ring Cycle in Bayreuth, and I got to write about it for the Santa Fe Opera blog. It was an experiential guide for first timers.

    I am very excited that Henry and I now have a very timely opera—it’s part #MeToo, part comedy, part serious, about Arabs and Jews and how the separation began, about complex relationships...and it’s very physical and entertaining. We avoided everything strident. Arias are available from E. C. Schirmer, and each act of the opera can stand alone for performance. Of course, if we have our druthers, it will be performed as a whole—three couples, three periods of life, three acts.

    Let me know if you have any thoughts, reactions, anything. We live in such an interactive world that it’s great to hear from you. Happy days and nights of opera to you all.

    Judith Fein

    judie@globaladventure.us

     

    Henry Mollicone: I am writing about what it was like to compose the music for Hotel Eden, but I really feel that that in any work for music theater, the marriage between the words and the music is completely essential for its success. Judie gave me a wonderful libretto filled with humor, and I had no choice but to compose the kind of music I did, according to the mood of the story/libretto. For me, some of the essential musical moments are the rock song that follows the Mrs. Noah aria,  the song “ Yesterday,” which is sung, nostalgically and wistfully, by Abraham and Sarah, and Hagar’s aria. In terms of musical style, Hotel Eden is a crossover piece that uses jazz elements, and it is closer to Sondheim and Bernstein than to an opera. And as I look back at my musical career to date, the grand quintet at the end of act two is definitely  some of my best ensemble writing.

    Read on to see what the critics say, and watch the complete opera!

    What the critics say...

    "... a beautifully crafted work of consummate joy"– OPERA GUIDE, Los Angeles

    “...clever, highly original, musically engaging...great fun. Each intermission leaves one anxious for the next act to begin. THE SACRAMENTO BEE

    “…glitzy, hip, sometimes tender... a feminist reading of three stories from the Old Testament….
    –OPERA NEWS

    “... a lark of an opera….reminds us poignantly that today’s implacable Middle Eastern antagonists spring from common progenitors…
    — MUSICAL AMERICA

    “... there is nothing tentative about its idiom, its writing for voices or for the aptness or inventiveness of the instrumental writing.”
    — OPERA, London

    “... simple love melodies...hard-pop…sticky-rock diversions... show-biz routines as well as old-fashioned operatic procedures."

    — LOS ANGELES TIMES

    “Upbeat, provocative and craftily conceived, the Hotel Eden is destined for bigger houses… SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL

    Hotel Eden is a hit...Unorthodox. Sexy. Sassy. Jazzy. Exuberant.
    — SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

     

    Read more about Hotel Eden's production at the Peabody Opera here.

    Watch the full production below:

     

  • Howard Goodall + MorningStar Music

    MorningStar Music Publishers welcomes the choral works of Howard Goodall to our catalog! We are now the print publisher in North America for Mr. Goodall’s choral works and are excited to further introduce Mr. Goodall’s publications to American and Canadian choirs.

    Known for his TV and movie themes, his dramatic choral works are sure to be very popular additions to the libraries of church and school choral directors. Be sure to check out the YouTube playlist below to get a taste of his choral compositions!


    Howard Goodall is one of Britain’s most distinguished and versatile composers. He is well known for his popular TV themes for Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Red Dwarf, The Catherine Tate Show, Q.I., and The Vicar of Dibley. His score for the HBO film Into the Storm won him the Primetime EMMY award for “Original Dramatic Score” in 2009. Other film credits include Johnny English, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, and Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

    Howard Goodall Howard Goodall

    In the theatre his musicals, from The Hired Man with Melvyn Bragg in 1984 to Love Story in 2010, have been performed in the West End, Off-Broadway and throughout world, winning many international awards, including Ivor Novello (1985), TMA (2006 and 2010), and Off-West End (2012) awards for “Best Musical.” He is currently working with Gurinder Chadha and Charles Hart on a musical adaptation of Bend it like Beckham.

    Howard is a prolific composer of choral music and has been commissioned to mark national ceremonies and memorials. His Eternal Light: A Requiem has had over 200 live performances since its premiere in 2008 and won him a Classical BRIT award for “Composer of the Year.” In the Top-selling 100 Specialist Classical CDs of 2009, Goodall occupied the 1st, 4th and 9th positions. His 2009 Enchanted Voices, a setting of the Beatitudes, was No. 1 of the Specialist Classical CD chart for 6 months, winning him a Gramophone award.

    For the past 15 years Howard has written and presented his own TV documentary series on the theory and history of music. For these he has been honoured with a BAFTA, an RTS Judges’ Prize for “Outstanding Contribution to Education in Broadcasting” and over a dozen other international broadcast awards. He hosts his own weekly show, Saturday Night at the Movies, on Classic fm, for whom he is also currently Composer-in-Residence. In January 2013, Howard Goodall’s Story of Music, 6 hour-long films for BBC2, was broadcast, with an accompanying Chatto & Windus book.

  • Karen Marrolli - Five Things You Didn't Know About Me

    In one of our new composer interview formats, we asked Karen Marrolli to do a lightning round by telling us five things we didn't know about her (and weren't in her bio).
    1. I write the songs (as well as the choral pieces).

    In addition to composing choral music, I like to write and perform in the amorphous genre known as “singer-songwriter.” I like to record these little nuggets and post them at www.youtube.com/c/KarenMarrolli and www.karenmarrollimusic.com for the world to hear.

    Karen Marrolli Karen Marrolli

     

    1. I took the scenic route to Music Ministry.

    Once I embraced conducting as a primary “instrument” of my music making, I assumed that I would pursue a Director of Choral Activities position at some university. But various church positions have gradually pulled me down the road of Music Ministry, defying the normal expectations of someone on my particular educational path.

    [Listen to one of Marrolli's compositions for church below}

    1. I hike to get the shot.

    I’ve always been a fan of the outdoors, but somehow I became a hiker and a photographer while living in Santa Fe, NM. There are so many strangely beautiful sights in Desert Southwest that one doesn’t have to be particularly smart to get a good picture- just point and shoot, anywhere.

    Photo by Karen Marrolli Photo by Karen Marrolli
    1. I’m a blossoming church jazz vocalist.

    The resident jazz trio at my church has discovered that my voice suits their repertoire, so we’ve been collaborating on vocal music like “Just a Closer Walk” for their bimonthly appearances at our services. Needless to say, it’s a completely different skill set than when I sing Mendelssohn or Handel for the Offertory.

    1. I basically just like to make things.

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s a concert program, a song, a music video, a new dinner or dessert recipe, a repurposed piece of furniture, a concert series, or an arrangement or mix of a piece I’m recording. I am constantly creating something!


    Karen Marrolli Karen Marrolli

    Karen Marrolli is the Director of Music Ministries at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, NM. She has previously served as Director of Music Ministries at Trussville First United Methodist Church in Trussville, AL, as Director of Choral Ministries at the United Church of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, NM, and as the Artistic Director of the Zia Singers, the Cantu Spiritus Chamber Choir, and the Santa Fe Men’s Camerata. Marrolli holds the DMA degree in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University (2010), where she studied Choral Conducting with Dr. Kenneth Fulton. She earned her BM in Music Theory and Composition (1997) and her MM in Choral Conducting and Sacred Music (2000) from Westminster Choir College before relocating to Charleston, SC, where she lived for seven years prior to pursuing doctoral studies. While in Charleston, she founded Lux Aeterna, a chamber choir who presented candlelight concerts in honor of such events as World AIDS Day, the September 11th attacks, and Child Abuse Awareness Month. These concerts always consisted of readings, often written by survivors of traumatic events, interspersed with choral music. The concerts progressed from a sense of darkness to light and were meant to give hope to those who were in a process of healing.

    Marrolli's choral works are published independently as well as through MorningStar Music Publishers and Colla Voce. In June of 2010, her arrangement of "Patapan" was recorded for commercial release by the Taylor Festival Choir and featured such Celtic Music greats as John Doyle and Liz Carroll.

     

  • Celebrating Paul Bouman

    Composer Paul Bouman will turn 100 on August 26, 2018. In a century he has certainly built a legacy, particularly in Lutheran church music. In 2015 the Center for Church Music produced an interview with Bouman (led by another MorningStar composer, Michael Costello), providing a great resource in getting to know the composer quite well in just an hour.  We also love this article by Northwestern Magazine, which details Bouman's connection to composer Michael Wolniakowski.

    View Bouman's music here.


    Paul Bouman was born in Hamburg, Minnesota on August 26, 1918. He has a B.S. in Education from Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois, and attended Westphalian Church Music School, in Herford, Germany. He has held positions as a Director of Music and as a teacher at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Melrose Park, Illinois; and at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois.

    He has received many honors including the Spiritus Christi Medal from Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois; the Te Deum Laudamus Award from Zion Lutheran Church, Dallas, Texas; and Dr. of Humane Letters from Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri.

    Bouman's other activities include: Staff member at Lutheran Worship Conferences as well as workshops for Chorister's Guild and AGO in Dallas, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale, etc. with particular emphasis on children's choirs; Staff member of Lutheran Summer Music Program since 1986; As a member of the Illinois Grade School Music Association his children's choirs always received a top rating in the Illinois Grade School Contests.

    In 1971 he co-founded with Carl Schalk the Bach Vesper Cantata Series at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois. In 1984 he was invited to prepare the Children's Choirs for the Bethlehem Bach Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem.

    Bouman holds memberships in the American Guild of Organists, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, the American Choral Director's Association, and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

    He is married to Victoria Bartling and has five children.

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