Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inaugural Recital in Celebration of the New Austin Organ at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, held today

Today, Sunday September 15, 2013, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC held its Inaugural Recital in Celebration of the New Austin Organ, with Lawrence P. Schreiber (Lon) as organist.

The console was moved into the center of the chancel.  The organ comprises a Chancel Organ (largest pipes) and a Gallery Organ in the back of the sanctuary (with additional special trumpets).
The concert opened with a “Fanfare and March” from the “Lancaster Suite” (2010) by Malcolm Archer. The piece demonstrated the antiphonal contrast between the “tuba major” and the “great trumpet”.

Next followed a piece called “NEF” by Henry Mulet, which contrasts the Chancel and Gallery sets of ranks, to give the feeling of being in a French cathedral.
Then some music by J.S. Bach followed. There were two chorale preludes (“Liebster Jesu”, BWV 731; and “Let Heaven and Earth Rejoice”, BWV 129). What followed was the centerpiece of the concert: the massive (15 minutes) Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544.  Despite the date of composition (1727), the fugue achieves some shocking dissonance in the counterpoint toward the end, suggestive of fugal material in middle period Mahler (especially the Fifth Symphony Finale).  Both movements end with a triumphant Picardy Third of B Major.
The organist provided four “requests fulfilled”.  First he played “Twilight at Fiesole” (from “Harmonies of Florence”, Op. 27) by Seth Bingham, and then a “Meditation” by Maurice Durufle, published posthumously in 2001.  There followed the “Nimrod” variation in Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”.  
 The variation is in E Major, but it anticipates the G Major triumphant at the end. The best of this set was the familiar “ A Solemn Melody” by Walford Davies. 
The concert closed with the Choral #1 in E Major by Cesar Franck (from a set of three).  The piece builds three themes out of little motives, and accumulates to a tremendous and chromatic triumph at the end.  The piece dates to 1890, the last year of the composer’s life, and the affirmation at the end sounds more convincing than it does in the Symphony.  The final pages anticipate the music of Arnold Bax. 

The organ project was the beneficiary of at least two huge contributions over $300000 a piece, and seven more over $25000.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Arlington pastor's installation service produces music with controversial lyrics,

The Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington VA installed pastor Rev. Judith Fulp-Eickstaedt in  combined “contemporary” service or “rally” in the gymnasium Sunday morning September 8, 2013, with a very full turnout, including potluck. 

The usual contemporary singers provided much of the music, “How We Love” by Diane Allard, and “Jesus at the Center of it All”.  What was striking about the “all” song is the verse line “It’s all about yu.”  In fact, famous pastor Rick Warren (“The Purpose-Driven Life”) keeps preaching the opposite, “It’s not about you.”  That is, it’s not up to you to have the knowledge of good and evil.  But it can get very personal.
For the offertory, the choir performed a cappella an anthem, rather modal in style, by Daniel Gawthrop, “Sing Me to Heaven” (composer’s site ). The composer has quite a resume of skills on Wikipeida (remember Alexander Borodin was a chemist?) and his organ music has been performed at the University of Kansas (where I got my MA in mathematics in 1968).  
Here’s a heads up, on the Inaugural Concert of the New Organ at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, Sunday September 15, 2013, announcement
The pastor this morning spoke about “going deeper”.   

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My own progress as a composer: break the work into minatures; Yes, "it takes a long time"

I have recently recorded a number of “short pieces” or “miniatures” based on materials from earlier large works that I had composed or sketched out earlier in my adulthood. This posting continues earlier discussions here on June 29, April 18, and April 1. 

I’ve documented my “progress” on my own “” at this link

I’ve added a few new selections from the “choral cantata” that I sketched out in 1974.

These items are the following:

(1)    * A “Fanfare”, C Major, from the first movement, a motive that I have thought of using as a “doaskdotell” musical trademark.
(2)    * A setting of Psalm 133 (wavering between D-flat and C), near the end of the first movement.
(3)    * Two scherzo pieces, from the second movements, in E Major and F Major.  The E Major is supposed to e a spoof of a Haydn minuet, with the rhythms constantly imploding upon themselves.
(4)    *  Six pieces from the (third)  “Song Cycle” movement. These are “He Said to Me”, “Doubting Thomas”, “Rich Young Ruler”, “Drinking Song”, “Obsession: Upward Affiliation”, and “Losing It”. The words are on a hyperlink at the bottom of the page. 
(5)   *  Four “hymns”, from a fourth “slow movement”, in G, E-flat, A-flat, D-flat, and a “transition” in F Minor.
(6)    * Finale, triple time
(7)   *  My meandering “applause” theme, in F#, which becomes the code of the third Sonata (not symphony).  I admit that in playing the coda, the fourth and fifth fingers on my right hand lacked the strength that they needed to play the passages cleanly and get the right effect.  But the grand piano tone from the Casio is quite effective generally. 

With most of the pieces, I have put them through the Sibelius “renotation” process before creating the PDF’s of the scores.  This helps somewhat.

Among the pieces, a few could be “perfected” to the point of public performance, for example, as preludes in church services (on piano, possibly transcribed to organ).   Among these are the “B Major Chorale” (essentially a “hymn”) from the slow movement of the third sonata, the standalone “Polytonal Prelude” simultaneously in D and E; the G Major Hymn, and perhaps the “Losing It” song.  Most of these fit onto two or three pages.  I could re-enter the into Sibelius manually to get the measure spacing right, but this gets tedious and difficult if it goes on for much length. It would not be too difficult to write one or more of them out manually in ink (as we did in the 1950’s) and photocopy them into a PDF, and then load the PDF to the iPad for performance.

A few of the items on the file have mp3 files. 

Here’s a link on digital sheet music for me to look into.

To record the full sonatas, I would need the help of a studio (and maybe a pianist). As with the second, I can photocopy the original and make a PDF, with some more cleanup work (especially the finale; the opening toccata theme has been entered successfully into Sibelius manually, and sounds pretty effective, if automaton-like).   Photographing originals into Adobe (done at FedEx Kinkos) leads to very large files; I don’t know if that’s a problem loading to the iPad.   

It takes a long time to become a good composer.  Yes, it really does. One factor to remember.  Yes, I have turned 70 recently.  It's a good idea to leave conspicuous notes of where my music (and other stuff) is, so others could do something with.  In the afterlife, I won't be able to do anything about it.  But I will know if someone else does.