My Cart:

0 item(s) - $0.00
You have no items in your shopping cart.

0

MorningStar Music

  • 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

     

     

     

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • From the Top Features Alistair Coleman

    From the Top logo From the Top

    A few months ago we did a short interview with Alistair Coleman, and had a wonderful time getting to know this young composer. We were even more thrilled to learn he got a coveted spot on From the Top, the "nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the stories, talents, and character of young classically-trained musicians." In his radio spot, Coleman takes us on his journey from beginning piano lessons, to composing a musical, to finding his first composition teacher. The spot also includes his piece, Images from Fallingwater, performed by students of the San Francisco Conservatory.

    Listen Here.

     


    Alistair Coleman Alistair Coleman

    Alistair Coleman is a young composer from Washington, DC. Most recently, he was appointed the Composer-in-Residence of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale. His piece, “Of Radiance and Light,” was commissioned by the National Philharmonic and premiered at Strathmore Hall in November 2016. His music has been programmed broadly, including performances by the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, Houston Brass Band, Boston University Marsh Chapel Choir, Takoma String Ensemble, and the Cathedral Choral Society.

    With three published works, Alistair is the youngest composer ever published by E.C. Schirmer. He has received awards from the American Composers Forum, National YoungArts Foundation, Symphony Number One, and NAfME. He received an honorable mention in the 2017 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

    Alistair has studied composition at the Atlantic Music Festival, Curtis Young Artists Summer Program, Oberlin Summer Composition Workshop, and the New York Summer Music Festival. He currently studies with Richard Danielpour and David Ludwig, faculty members at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In the fall of 2017, Alistair will begin undergraduate studies at The Juilliard School.

  • Request a New Music Reading Session

    Reading sessions are one of our favorite ways to interact with music directors and musicians. Choral reading sessions are an engaging event requiring active participation from the attendees, who in turn get to experience a lot of music in a short amount of time. Similarly, organ or instrumental sessions can offer exposure to new music in a more casual environment than a service or recital.

    MorningStar has been actively involved in providing reading sessions since its founding in the 1980s. In particular, there's been a strong tie between MorningStar and NPM, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate and help with chapter meetings in several ways.

    1. Drop us an email requesting some sample music for a quick read through at an upcoming chapter meeting. This can provide some access to new resources without devoting an entire meeting to a reading session. Simply let us know how many copies you need for a single copy for each director, and we will be glad to assist you.
    2. Provide a complete evening meeting devoted to new literature. These sessions can be particularly effective when you mix in some piano, organ, or instrumental music. The sessions can be focused on particular seasons, or can be general in nature. They can also include music of varied difficulties. Many chapters have spread the leadership of these sessions up among chapter members to get more people involved, and others have even asked a local choir to participate by singing some selections from their repertoire. Other chapters have created unique organ and piano reading sessions by receiving new music from us and then dividing pieces up between chapter members to perform. It is a quick way to insure member involvement and to discover new publications.
    3. Contact us about having a MorningStar representative at your session. We'll be glad to work with you to try and find just the right clinician for your situation.

    If you'd like more information about possibilities, please email us!

  • Responsorial Psalm Singing with the Five Graces Psalter

    Guest post by Kelly Dobbs-Mickus

    MorningStar has recently published a new volume of Responsorial Psalms for the 3-year Lectionary cycle by Luke Mayernik. In this series, we will explore the practice of responsorial psalm singing using the Five Graces Psalter for reference, in the context of Roman Catholic liturgy, while acknowledging that other traditions also use responsorial forms. Whether singing/playing responsorial psalms is new for you, or whether you are experienced, we believe these reflections will contribute to this aspect of your ministry.

    This first part of the post considers the responsorial psalm in its liturgical context and then moves to the art of singing and accompanying psalm refrains. It assumes a “regular” parish setting while acknowledging that all worship situations are not identical.

    The responsorial psalm is one of the Scripture readings in the Liturgy of the Word and therefore has an elevated place in the liturgy. The cantor or soloist (called psalmist from here) is the proclaimer, and therefore the communication of the text is his/her most important task. As musicians, we tend to be more concerned with the music than making sure the text is understood, but this clear communication of Scripture is a skill that must be practiced and continually developed by psalmists.

    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, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2015. Preparation of the psalm must not be solely an exterior one; it is the psalmist’s privilege and responsibility to pray the psalms.

    Accompanists also have a responsibility to prepare each psalm setting prayerfully. Decide which keyboard instrument fits the particular refrain, assuming there are equally viable options. The refrain accompaniments found in The Five Graces Psalter are quite flexible; even those that appear to be pianistic can be quite successful on the organ (the example included here is such a refrain), and vice versa. Pianists should consider options for volume and articulation, and organists should decide what stops will be most appropriate, etc. Guitar chord symbols are provided; adding guitar to refrains and/or verses adds richness to the texture. Guitar would be a sufficient accompaniment for verses in some situations.

    The refrain melody is usually introduced by a keyboardist, with or without a solo instrumentalist. Playing the refrain accompaniment as written is a possibility, but other options are more helpful for the assembly. The keyboardist might play the melody only, perhaps in octaves. Another option is to “solo out” the melody, perhaps in a higher octave for piano, or on a solo stop for organ. This important skill for organists is most commonly done this way: Play the melody in the right hand, pair the alto and tenor voice in the left hand, and assign the bass line to the pedals. Here is the refrain for Palm Sunday, shown first as it appears in the Five Graces Psalter and then as a solo melody version.

    A pianist has the ability to play the melody more loudly so that it is heard above the texture of the other voices. Having a solo instrument play the melody is very effective, with or without accompaniment. All of these options can be tailored to fit the tone of the psalm and/or the liturgical season or feast; in general, it makes sense to use simpler approaches for seasons such as Advent and Lent and more elaborate ones for seasons such as Christmas and Easter.

    Establish a steady tempo in the introduction, and maintain it for the psalmist’s intonation and assembly response, being careful to rehearse the transitions among those repetitions, as well as the transitions between verses and refrains. There are several ways to handle these transitions—not necessarily one “right” way—but consistency and rehearsal are necessary for confident assembly participation.

    When the psalmist sings the first refrain, there are several things to remember. Here’s a good way to think about what is happening in this liturgical moment: As part of prayerfully proclaiming this Scripture, the psalmist is modeling the best way for the assembly—a group of untrained singers—to sing this particular refrain, thereby enabling their prayerful participation.

    • The notes should be clear and in tune, and the tempo should be steady.
    • Breathe when you believe they will need to breathe.
    • Be musical, because a musical “performance” will engage the assembly. Follow the contour and expression of the musical line, emphasize/de-emphasize certain notes, etc. In other words, allow the music to be an effective vehicle for the particular text.
    • Avoid affectations in your tone (e.g., too much vibrato) and pronunciation (e.g., rolled Rs, or a “British” style) so that the assembly will feel comfortable imitating you.
    • Enunciate each syllable. Imagine that the assembly does not have visual access to the words.
    • Microphones are not a substitute for a supported vocal production; if you have a big voice, move back a bit. Rehearse with the microphone, and record your rehearsal for an objective perspective.

    The accompanist plays two different roles in the responsorial psalm: accompanying the cantor and leading the assembly. S/he needs to support but not overpower the psalmist, taking a back seat especially during the verses to allow the words of the psalm to be primary. S/he needs to lead the assembly in singing each refrain with correct notes, steady tempo, clear breaths, and appropriate volume. It can be helpful for accompanists to give more prominence to the refrain melody—as described above—until the assembly becomes confident.

    The psalmist should allow the keyboardist to be the leader for the assembly refrains. It may be necessary for him/her to help the assembly on the first repetition or two, but it is ideal for him/her to not sing with the assembly unless they are in need of his/her vocal support. When the assembly is singing confidently, an amplified voice singing over them is not only redundant—it sends the wrong message.

    The liturgical primacy of the responsorial psalm demands careful preparation. The next part in this series will explore psalm-tone verses, including the choral options possible for The Five Graces Psalter.

    Visit our website for more information on The Five Graces Psalter, especially the options for both print and downloadable versions.

Items 1 to 10 of 30 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3