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In Tune

ECS Publishing Group Blog and News

  • The Washington National Cathedral Series

    Washington National Cathedral Washington National Cathedral

     

    The Washington National Cathedral Series is designed to be representative of the vibrant music making present in this great Cathedral. The series features anthems and instrumental pieces that are reflective of the emphasis the Cathedral places on being a National spiritual resource for people of all faiths and perspectives. The series is edited by the Cathedral’s Music Director, Michael McCarthy, who was appointed to the position in the summer of 2003.

    Visit the series page to view all of the great pieces in this collection.

     

     

  • Paul Manz - 100 Years of Music

    Paul Manz picture Paul Manz

    2019 is the 100th anniversary of Paul Manz's birth. In honor of the occasion, we're reminding ourselves of the incredible contributions Manz made to church music, and invite you to join in. If you are performing any of Manz's works in 2019, let us know in the comments!

    If you're not familiar with Manz's legacy as a musician, composer, teacher, and worship leader, a great place to start is Scott Hyslop's book, The Journey Was Chosen: The Life and Work of Paul Manz. Along with publication of the book came a Paul Manz Portal, where you can quickly find articles, photos, and programs, among other resources.

    Manz's best-known piece is "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come." Watch a video with the score below!

     

    To view all of Manz's works with MorningStar, click here.


    Paul Manz long served the church as recitalist, composer, teacher and leader in worship. He was Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois; as well as Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the director of the newly established Paul Manz Institute of Church Music, and was Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

    A Fulbright grant enabled him to study with Flor Peeters in Belgium and Helmut Walcha in Germany. The Belgian government invited him to be the official United States representative in ceremonies honoring Flor Peeters on his 80 th birthday and his 60 th year as titular organist of the Cathedral of Saint Rombaut in Mechelen, Belgium. At that time, Flor Peeters referred to his former student as "my spiritual son."

    Paul Manz concertized extensively in North America. He appeared at the Lincoln Center in New York City, with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall and with the Minnesota Orchestra under the direction of Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, and Henry Charles Smith. In addition, he played recitals in churches and cathedrals here and abroad. He was in great demand for his hymn festivals, which are his legacy as a church musician. He conducted many organ clinics, participated in liturgical seminars and appeared as lecturer and recitalist at the regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists.

    The esteem and respect with which Paul Manz is regarded can be seen in the many honors he has received. He was twice named one of the "Ten Most Influential Lutherans." He served as National Councilor of the American Guild of Organists and is listed as one of the "101 Most Notable Organists of the 20th Century." He was the recipient of many honorary doctorates and awards. Northwestern University, his alma mater, presented him with the prestigious "Alumni Merit Award"; The Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago presented him with the distinguished "Confessor of Christ Award"; The Chicago Bible Society presented him with the "Gutenberg Award"; and the Lutheran Institute of Washington, DC honored him with the first "Wittenberg Arts Award". At a convention of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, his colleagues honored him for his work in the church. A large gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota held a "Paul Manz Celebration: Honoring the Life of a Church Musician" where substantial gifts were given to the Ruth and Paul Manz Scholarship for Church Musicians.

    Trinity Seminary of Columbus, Ohio bestowed the "Joseph Sittler Award for Theological Leadership" and among his many honorary doctorates is the Doctor of Sacred Music degree from Valparaiso University, Indiana, and most recently, the Doctor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota.

    His musical compositions are internationally known. His organ works are extensively used in worship services, recitals and in teaching. His choral music is widely used by church and college choirs here and abroad. His motet, "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" is regarded as a classic and has been frequently recorded here and abroad. His life and works is the subject of a doctoral dissertation which details his career spanning more than fifty years and analyzes his organ works.

  • Planning for ACDA 2019

    The national ACDA conference is just around the corner, and we couldn't be more excited. In addition to a great booth setup featuring our latest choral music as well as perennial favorites, we wanted to highlight some of our other activities so you can start filling in your schedule. The conference is in Kansas City, MO, and runs from February 27 to March 2.

    Composer Fair
    Wednesday, February 27
    5:00-7:00pm

    This year's conference will feature a brand new event--the composer fair! We're excited for you to meet composers like Karen Marrolli, Michael John Trotta, and Howard Goodall, and learn more about their music directly from the source.

    Reading Sessions
    TBD

    We'll be hosting two reading sessions: one for new church music, and one for new school/concert music. Check back for definite dates!

    Stainer & Bell
    We're especially excited to welcome one of our European publishing partners, Stainer & Bell, to their first ACDA conference!

     

    See you in Kansas City!

    Kansas City Kansas City

     

     

     

  • Randol Bass - Winter 2018 Performances

    It's that time again! Orchestras and choruses around the country are gearing up for Christmas concerts, and many of them are performing music by composer Randol Bass. Check out the list below to see where Bass' music will be performed this winter!

     

    Bellringers' Holiday

    Cleveland Orchestra

    Missoula Symphony Association

     

    Christmas Flourish

    Case Western Reserve University

    Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida

    Georgia State University

    Kansas City Symphony

    Paducah Symphony Orchestra

    Sequoia Symphony Orchestra

    St. Timothy on the Northshore UMC

     

    Christmas Ornaments

    Empire State Youth Orchestra

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Sierra Master Chorale

     

    Fanfare: Joy to the World

    California Baptist University

    Dudley Birder Chorale

    Plano Symphony

    University of Texas

     

    A Feast of Carols

    Catalina Foothills Church

    Choral Society of the Palm Beaches

    Colorado State University

    First United Methodist Church - Baton Rouge, LA

    Harper College

    Indianapolis Symphonic Choir

    North Carolina State University

    Santa Barbara Choral Society

    Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

     

    Gloria

    Central Maryland Chorale

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Colorado Symphony

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    DCINY (Carnegie Hall)

    Firelands Symphony Orchestra

    Hershey Symphony Orchestra

    Indiana Wesleyan University

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Modesto Symphony Orchestra

    Omaha Symphonic Chorus

    Paducah Symphony Orchestra

    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra

    University of Mobile

     

    Glory to God (from A Savior is Born)

    Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra

    San Angelo Symphony Orchestra

     

    I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

    Greenwood Festival Chorale

    SUNY Potsdam

     

    The Night Before Christmas

    Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    Cleveland Pops Orchestra

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Columbus Symphony Orchestra

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    Edgewood Symphony Orchestra

    Firelands Symphony Orchestra

    The Florida Orchestra

    Folsom Lake Symphony

    Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

    Irving Symphony Orchestra

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Long Beach Symphony

    Manchester Choral Society

    Mid-Texas Symphony

    North Carolina Symphony

    Roswell Symphony Orchestra

    Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra

    San Diego Symphony Orchestra

    Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra

    Toronto Symphony Orchestra

    University of Lynchburg

    University of Texas

    Utah Symphony

     

    Seasonal Sounds

    Marin Symphony Orchestra

    Dudley Birder Chorale

     

    Sing We Now of Christmas

    Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

    Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Modesto Symphony Orchestra

     

    A Symphony of Carols

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    DCINY (Carnegie Hall)

  • Introducing Three Songs by Ephraim Amu

    By Kofi Agawu

    Between 2002 and 2006, the local currency in Ghana included a 20,000-cedi note with the image of composer Ephraim Amu. These spaces are normally reserved for famous political leaders, generic situations that project the country’s industry and culture, and historic sites. That Dr. Amu shared this company speaks to the very high regard in which he is held. Indeed, Ephraim Amu is probably the best-known cultural icon of twentieth-century Ghana.

    Talk to primary school pupils about the songs they sing at assembly, and they will invariably mention Yɛn ara asase ni (This is our own land). Some of them will refer to it as Ghana’s national anthem; the more discerning will describe it as the unofficial national anthem. Neither designation is correct. The national anthem (originally “Lift high the flag of Ghana,” later “God Bless our homeland Ghana”) was composed in 1957 to English words in a stately, hymn-like and quite un-African idiom by Philip Gbeho, and remains in regular use for official functions and ceremonies. Yɛn ara asase ni, composed in a more indigenous idiom to Twi words, is a patriotic song; it is widely popular because it captures more readily an African musical sensibility. If you ask those school children what they like about it, they will probably say that the song is sweet and that its words fill them with pride.

    Talk to another group of educated Ghanaians about broadly cultural matters, especially those who came of age in the years leading up to the country’s Independence in 1957, and who have had the benefit of either a secondary school or teacher training college education. Dr. Amu’s name is likely to emerge in connection with passionate advocates for African culture, role models for what was once called ‘African personality.’ Some indeed may recall encountering one or two of Amu’s compositions as members of a school choir.

    Until now, Ephraim Amu has been visible mostly as a national figure. This is partly a function of the circumstances in which he worked as a musician, teacher, catechist, and educator. He wrote mostly choral music using texts in Ghanaian languages, and he often wrote for specific choirs and specific occasions. He was not aiming at an anonymous global audience. No condition is permanent, however, as the song writer says, so it is not surprising that Amu’s nationalism is on the verge of yielding to an internationalism. The publication by Galaxy Music Corporation of three of Amu’s most popular songs in a beautiful critical edition made by Professor Felicia Sandler will surely hasten their accessibility to many professional and amateur choirs in the United States. Amu’s unique choral idiom, cultivated under the influence of European colonialism and missionization, yet marked by African rhythms, melodic turns and poetic expression, exudes a fresh, coming-of-age quality that has been celebrated in his native Ghana and that will surely appeal to musicians around the globe.

    Amu was an imaginative poet-composer, and many who learn his songs are immediately drawn into an enticing world of memorable, word-borne melody, exhilarating rhythms, and an undercurrent of natural harmony, tweaked in unexpected ways, sometimes under the influence of a species of parallelism common in indigenous music, sometimes in deference to the four-part harmony that the composer encountered in Protestant hymns and associated idioms. Writing in two Ghanaian languages, Ewe and Twi, Amu sought to capture pertinent thoughts and aspirations of his community and to convey them in pithy language. His best-known songs are mainly in Twi, the most widely-spoken language in Ghana. As a non-native speaker, Amu learned an idiomatic Twi that took him to the heart of indigenous expression. His song texts are peppered with vivid images, wise sayings, and challenges to self- and communal improvement.

    Before Christian missionaries arrived in Amu’s hometown of Peki in the 1840s, no one sang using the popular SATB arrangement that practically every Western choir takes for granted. No one drew on Biblical sources for song texts, and no one composed choral music on paper for performance by trained choirs. All of that changed three or so generations later, thanks to Amu, who had grown up with deep influences of indigenous cultural practice (his father was a drummer), on the one hand, and with exposure to and curiosity about selected idioms of eighteenth-century European tonal music, on the other. Amu wrote a series of choral works for various occasions, each one cementing an idea, an aspiration, an admonition. He was in that sense a pioneer and, in retrospect, a visionary. Amu’s practices eventually gelled into a model of choral composition that became hugely successful—satisfying for performers and audiences alike, and available for imitation by budding composers. Indeed, it is hard to think of a single successful composer of choral music in Ghana who has not in some measure been influenced by Amu. Today, one can hear Amu’s music performed in schools, churches, community and work-place choirs, or in arrangements for brass bands.

    The three song settings published by Galaxy are among Amu favorites, and they are likely to become favorites for American performers too, once they master Amu’s individual idiom. Yɛn ara asase ni is a patriotic song composed in 1929. It was originally written to Ewe words and then fitted with Twi words two years later. Every schooled Ghanaian knows this song, even if they do not have full control over the words of subsequent stanzas. The song’s rhythms are emphatic, the melody is well suited to the speech tones—no mean achievement given that the original was in Ewe—and the refrain is memorable because it incorporates a responsorial element found in much African traditional music. Amu maintains a diatonic base but occasionally incorporates the flattened-seventh degree of the scale in an endearing way. American singers may need the assistance of a Twi-speaking coach to help render the Twi words accurately, and they may have to time-travel to 1930s West Africa to begin to glimpse the joint influences of Empire, Christian missions and collective hopes for self-determination.

    In Asɛm yi di ka (This talk has got to be spoken), composed in 1944, the emphasis is on the spoken word. Amu’s phraseology is particularly charming here. Subphrases end on relatively short notes followed by silences, giving the song a certain enunciatory character and thus enhancing its communicative value. The spoken word, complete with the intrinsic musical baggage it carries from tone languages, lies at the root of Amu’s expression, and singers will have the opportunity, here and elsewhere, to experience that magnificent fusion of word and tone that has made so many of Amu’s songs memorable to generations of Ghanaians.

    Adawura bɔme (I am the bell), composed in 1943, is a lively and satisfying exercise in polyrhythm. While polyrhythm is often associated in Africa with instrumental ensemble music, it is produced here by voices. At the core is a three-against two feel, the sine qua non of African rhythm, and a constant presence in Amu’s scores. Speaking these distinct, layered rhythms will give singers a feel for some of the energy that comes from this brand of simultaneous doing.

    Ephraim Amu died in 1995 at the age of 95. Already a legend in his lifetime, he has grown in stature posthumously. Scholars have become more keenly aware of the size and diversity of his output. Students of religion and culture have also become aware of Amu’s work as a theologian, nationalist and patriot. We owe an incalculable debt to Professor Sandler, who has undertaken the mammoth task of making Amu’s music available to a larger public in an authoritative critical edition for which these three songs provide a taste. This edition will do justice—for the first time—to the composer’s vision and achievement. May all who engage these gems of African choral music draw satisfaction from the close and cosy harmonies, the melodic inflexions, the vital rhythms, and the inspiring verbal messages, and may Amu’s music find audiences well beyond the ones that he imagined in 1931.

     


    Kofi Agawu was born in Ghana, where he received his initial education before studying composition and analysis in the UK and musicology in the US. He has taught at Haverford College, King’s College London, Cornell, Yale and Harvard; held visiting positions at the University of Hong Kong, Indiana University, University of Toronto, the University of Pavia, Cremona, and Oxford University; and lectured at numerous universities and conferences around the world. In 2012-13, he was appointed George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University, becoming only the second music scholar to have held that position since its endowment in 1930. He has served on the editorial boards of leading journals in musicology, music theory, African music and ethnomusicology, and on several fellowship panels.

    Agawu’s work is widely discussed and frequently cited for its interrogative quality. Tony Lewis remarks on Agawu’s role in “recasting African music as a musicological rather than ethnomusicological topic”; Veit Erlmann wrote that Representing African Music (2003) is “without any doubt the most powerful intervention in African musicology in a decade or more . . . one of the most edgy and stylish pieces of writing on the politics of culture in postcolonial Africa to have appeared of late”; and Music as Discourse (2008) elicited the following from Raymond Monelle: “The painstaking clarity of the analyses will surely be imitated by a generation of bright students . . . radical and challenging . . . easy to absorb yet infinitely sophisticated . . . elegant and rich . . . needs to be lived with and digested.”

    Agawu’s current research includes essays on rhythm and iconicity in African music, and further studies in topic theory.

  • Tom Keesecker Winter 2018 Performances

    Tom Keesecker

    Tom Keesecker will be performing music from his Advent and Christmas piano collections in an hour-long program of piano music, song, and poetry at these churches in November and December.

    - Sunday, 11/18, Saint Martin’s Lutheran, Annapolis, MD, 3pm
    - Monday, 11/26, St Mary Magdalen Mission, Bel Air, MD, 7 pm
    - Wednesday, 11/28, The Village at Orchid Ridge Winchester, VA, 2 pm
    - Wednesday, 11/28, Grace Lutheran, Winchester, VA, 6:30 pm
    - Sunday, 12/2, Abiding Presence Lutheran, Ewing Township, NJ, 6 pm
    - Monday, 12/3, St Paul’s Lutheran, Glenside, PA, 7:30 pm
    - Wednesday, 12/5, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Bel Air, MD, 6:45 service
    - Sunday, 12/9, Reformation Lutheran, Milford, DE, 7 pm
    - Monday 12/10, Epiphany Lutheran, Richmond, VA, 7 pm
    - Tuesday, 12/11, Wycliffe Presbyterian, Virginia Beach, VA, Noon
    - Tuesday, 12/11, Bayside Presbyterian, Virginia Beach, 7 pm
    - Wednesday, 12/12, St Michael Lutheran, Virginia Beach, VA, 6:45  pm

  • 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.

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