Friday, September 12, 2014

Washington DC organist gives recital at National City Christian Church

Dr. Lawrence P. Schreiber, Organist-Choirmaster at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, gave a recital at noon today (September 12) at the National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle in Washington DC.  Dr. Schreiber had held that position with the National City Church from 1960-2000.  So it was possible for young men to start careers in music in the old days, despite the social pressures (as from the military draft) that I have often written about. Here is the link from the Church for its recitals.

The program started with the majestic, post-romantic Chorale, Op. 37, by Joseph Jongen (known for an organ concerto).  The organist followed with fantasies on two spirituals: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by Calvin Taylor (b. 1948), a theme that appears in the first movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and “Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart” by John Carter (b. 1930).  He followed with the Fantasy in G Minor, MWV 542 by Bach (I would have liked to hear the Fugue, without which it sounds incomplete to me).  The main work of the concert was the 20-minute tone poem “Requiescat in Pace” (Latin for “Rest in Peace”), a lush, slow montage in triple time, with a loud middle section with the pedals.  As a “poem”, the music is less episodic than a tone poem by Liszt or Strauss.  The piece was selected as part of the September 11 remembrance.  Sowerby has composed symphonies and piano concerti which ought to be heard.
Schreiber followed with :Shylock” by Gabriel Faure, as transcribed by Virgil Fox, and concluded with “Now Thank We All Our God” by Bach, again transcribed by Fox.
Schreiber has sponsored a series of distinguished organist concerts at First Baptist Church.  The public should realize that most professional soloists get paid for church performances and “free recitals”.  Even younger professionals need to make $3000-$5000 per concert that they give.  Composers who do get commissions need enough to live on – sometimes pay a mortgage and raise a family.

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