Monday, October 08, 2012

Arlington church introduces new pianist-organist; more contemporary music


On Sunday. October 7, 2012, I saw (for the first time, for me) a new pianist-organist and choir director, who will fill in sometimes, at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Alrington VA, and he continued the tradition there of introducing contemporary composers’ music.

The artist is Mathhew Stensrud, and he opened the service with a collage of music by Norman Dello Joio on solo piano. Dello Joio tends to like variations and improvisation and to stay away from big-canvas classic forms.

The service featured two anthems. One was “Inscription of Hope” aka “Inscription on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany”, based on a Russian folk tune, for chorus (usually girls’) and piano, by Z. Ramdall Stroope.  Here’s a performance by the Girl Choir of South Florida:


The inspiration of the piece is similar to that of “Sacred Geometry” by Andrew Norman (post on Oct. 2).

You can go to the website of the composer and find samples of much more “modern” vocal (sometimes a cappella) and instrumental (often religious) music (most has to be purchased).  Sample  the “Three Metaphysical Motets”  Stroope  (b. 1953) was educated at Colorado State and Arizona State universities and teaches in Oklahoma.  I think I recall his name from the 1980s when I lived in Dallas.  The website link is here.

The other anthem (the offertorium) was “Lord, Our Lord, Thy Glorious Name” (Psalm 8) by Henry Mollicone, with cello soloist Sarah Cuthridge Szymanowski (maybe a very distant relative of the famous Polish composer).

The postlude, for solo piano, was a setting of  “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

The sermon (for World Communion Sunday) by Rev. Judith Fulp-Eickstaedt, “As a Little Child”, dealt with the “paradox” of the Book of Job.  Horror novelist Stephen King has said “God was p-o-ed” at Job.  Clive Barker was so impressed as to have God lose a battle with man at the end of his fantasy novel “Imajica”.  The idea that bad things happen to good people who think they have done everything right becomes the basis for the need for compassion.

The website for Stensrud appears to be this. His twitter page has an artwork background depicting the score of the Beethoven Sonata 8 (Pathetique). 

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