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Iíve been very much interested as to what it is that we really listen to in music. What is it that really happens when we crowd ourselves into a hall with our elbows against the next man, listening to something that lasts maybe twenty-five or thirty minutes? Besides merely some pleasure that we get out of the combinations of pitches together and lines, I think that there is some satisfaction that we get in the fact of having this diffuse thing organized very concretely and put onto a frame and have it actually decided. Thereís just a pleasure in seeing this sense of organization, the sense of logic, this clarity. I believe eventually, in the last analysis, that that is really what holds our attention to a piece of music more than anything else.
--Leo Ornstein
 
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Music for September 14

Prelude in C, Bwv 547
J. S. Bach

Canzone in C, BuxWV 166
Buxtehude
Today we welcome back our organ after 10 weeks during which it was being repaired. While most of the work involved rewiring to take care of an existing problem, there is one new sonic feature. Today's selections come from one of the high watermarks of the organ literature, the German Baroque period, and our first entry is from a composer many regard as the greatest of all organ composers, Johann Sebastian Bach. After he sings and dances his way through most of the C major prelude there are two dramatic pauses. Listen carefully. The low C that follows, the bottom pedal note on the whole organ, has a little more rumble than it used to. That's due to some creative rewiring to form a new organ stop that fools the ear into thinking it is hearing an octave lower than the organ is actually capable of! You'll also hear this new "resultant" stop during the choir anthem, and at the end of the offertory when I couldn't resist giving Mr. Buxtehude a grand finish. I dedicate this offertory to the folks at the Buzard organ company, and especially Stuart, who professed a preference for Buxtehude over Bach (imagine!).





Music for September 21

        Sonata no. 4 in Bb
               I. Allegro con brio


One of the most lively and joyous pieces by Mendelssohn in the opening movement of this fourth organ sonata. Nonetheless, it does move through some stormy regions; here I've attempted, without the use of an assistant, to pull stops while the piece is in progress, in keeping with what was Mendelssohn's own practice (although he writes about having someone else do this for him). When the turbulent development section arrives, for instance, I add the sub-couplers, combining the current sound with the octave below. Then when the theme returns in all its glory, I reach over, cancel the sub-couplers, and add the super-couplers, which add the octave above it. The effect is that suddenly the organ gains a brighter sound.

 

Music for September 28

 Sonata in Bb                 Mendelssohn
IV. Allegro maestoso e vivace
II. Andante religioso
Mendelssohn himself, when invited to play these sonatas in England, complained that the organ's touch there was too heavy for him to make the attempt: in this fleet finale from the fourth sonata, one can easily see why this might be a problem. It is both a majestic, and a lively finish to this most cheerful sonata, and also a jubilant beginning to our service. The congregation responds with the hymn "Glorious things of thee are spoken."

 

Music for October 5

Canon in Ab     Ciurlionis
                      
I Come with Joy      Marteau
It's a bit ironic that this week's prayer of confession has us apologizing for being too rule-bound when a canon (which means "law") is a strict, procedural type of composition. But when it is done well, it sounds, as this charming little piece does, as if it were free of any of those concerns.  In other words, you won't notice the skill with which the composer adheres to canonic procedure, following compositional rules--instead, it just sounds like a delightful duet.



Music for October 12

Canzon from Fiori Musicali

Frescobaldi       
                      


Sonata, k. 1

Scarlatti
The flowers may be dying in our northern hemisphere as the autumnal air gets colder, but here is a piece from a collection of "musical flowers" (Fiori Musicali) by the fresh, bold Italian of the 17th century, Girolamo Frescobaldi. This Canzone is part of the first of three mass settings in this collection, and is intended to be played after communion. Since it is the week after "world communion" it has found a repurposed home in our protestant church, where the pastor doesn't spend several minutes cleaning up after communion before proceeding with the mass so that a musical interlude is necessary. The piece consists of 4 short sections, all at a rapid tempo, each of which is concluded by a few measures of slow, grand music and a final sounding chord. Was this so that Frescobaldi could end the piece at any one of four possible points if the priest finished his task sooner?

Music for October 19

Grand Choeur in G
Salome

Allegretto (from Sonata in Bb)
Mendlessohn
Theodore Salome was choir organist at St. Trinity in Paris, when Guilmant was principle organist. His music had some popularity in the United States. Ironically, I only know about it from the website of an Australian organist! Serving a congregation whose members included Bizet and Gounod, Salome was part of the rich musical life of late 19th century Paris.
note: there won't be any posted recording of the Mendelssohn for a couple of months for two reasons: There are too many sticking notes on the swell this week, and also the organ is out of tune. One of the notes sounds like a car horn!


Music for October 26
Reformation Sunday

Ein feste Burg
Walther


       
                     

The last Sunday of October each year being Reformation Sunday, I frequently turn to various settings of Luther's magnum opus, "A Mighty Fortress." The one for the offertory this year was written by Bach's one time roommate when he worked for the court at Weimar, Bach's own version is longer and flashier.

Despite the seasonal remembrance, I have also come upon the perfect offertory to complement today's sermon on "love"--however, I'll be playing it in concert this afternoon at 3, so come back later if you want to hear it! It is the last piece on the program.





Music for November 2
All Saints

Adoremus in Aeternum
Stell

copyrighted music posted with the kind permission of the composer and  the publisher, Fagus Music

www.evelynstell.com
www.forthinpraise.co.uk  (blog)
www.fagus-music.com


Fugue in C, Bwv 547
J. S. Bach
"I tell you the truth. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
                                                                             --John 12:24 (NIV)

On All Saints Sunday, perhaps more than any other festival of the church year, we are reminded of our own mortality, and our thoughts are directed toward the subject of death and resurrection, not only of those who have gone before us, but of ourselves. In this fugue, which musicologists think may have been his last for the organ, Bach seems to have this profound idea on his mind as well. The piece begins with a simple tune, and as each voice joins it forms a beautiful concordant harmony. For a while there is a wonderful stillness about all of the interwoven voices, at peace with each other.

But as the fugue unfolds, the harmonies become more dissonant; now there is moment of repose, some encouragement, some peace, then the struggle is renewed, as the music grows darker and the harmonies become deeper and richer; the music continues on toward its purpose through this way of suffering--finally there is shattering silence, broken by thundering dissonance--once, twice, again, again, like a death struggle--and then, triumph. It is the Easter story again, resurrection has broken through, birth into a new life. But perhaps the strangest thing about the fugue is the very end, not a long held final chord, but a last heroic harmony  lasting only an eight note, short even at a slow tempo. It is as if Bach the theologian wanted to remind us that in this life after all we only get a brief glimpse of eternity...

 

Music for November 9
Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
Sonoreaux
Menuetto from Sonata Hob. 11    
Haydn


Music for November 16

Be Thou My...
Marteau


Psalm 6
Grollen

 

Thanks
Grieg
We Gather Together
Marteau




Music for November 30 Advent 1

       Prelude in A Minor, Bwv 543
        J. S. Bach

       Piece d'orgue
        J. S. Bach
Religious concepts often exist in pairs of opposites; so it is with the coming of the Lord. We yearn for the promise of a kingdom of justice and peace; we fear the cataclysm of the end of the age, judgment upon the earth, plagues and devastation: it is the "great and terrible day of the Lord." Our liturgy this morning begins borrowing from the second of these images, cousins of the lectionary reading for the first week of Advent which concern the violent birth pangs of this new age. It is this apocalyptic sense that drives the opening voluntary, some of the first hymn (in a minor key), and later, the choir anthem based on the same hymn. But then the liturgy turns more toward hope than fear, as do the later elements in our service: the last hymn, and the offertory. It is not a clean break: the opening hymn is split down the down the middle (gloomy verses give way to shouts of "Rejoice! Rejoice!") and the choral introit is a musical foreshadowing of the joy of Bach's offertory. His piece begins with an exuberant announcement, continues in a long and solemn hymn (with touches of pathos), and finally returns to the opening mood. Here Bach makes his way to the penultimate pedal note, one of long preparation. He seems to be enjoying piling the strange harmonies above, one after another, lengthening the wait, still longer, denying that final proclamatory chord, until an unbelievable number of whirling arpeggios have passed; still more to go, as we wait and anticipate, and at last, taste the joy of apotheosis. This is Advent.

 

Music for December 7  Advent 2:   Choir Sunday Pastorale     Liszt              (see this blog entry for explanatory notes)

 

Music for December 14  Advent 3:   Christmas play

Sing We Now of Christmas

Marteau
Ordinarily there is no solo organ/piano music for this all-church event that takes places in our Worship and Life Center. However, sometimes a last minute request to fill time does occur, such as when the ushers are not finished taking the offering when the teen band is finished with their selection (hypothetically speaking, of course). Having made this recording 2 days previously, intending it to be part of next week's holiday program (see the home page), I offered a slightly paraphrased version (from memory) of this piece on Sunday morning.


Music for December 21  Advent 4

       
Prelude XV     Shostakovich

IV. Nativity     Marteau
"My Soul Magnifies the Lord (something something something)"
The words from the Magnificat that are less well remembered have to do with justice for the poor and calamity for the powerful; they are dangerous words to utter within the hearing of those in charge. Dmitry Shostakovich, it has been argued, spent his compositional career launching musical protests against the regime under which he was forced to work and prop up with musical propaganda. Those protests needed to be subtle; Joseph Stalin was not a man who bore criticism of any kind. Shostakovich, who was festooned with awards for his service to the state, was also at times censured publicly, and feared for his life: several of his colleagues simply disappeared during Stalin's purges. This prelude was written on December 20 , 1951, which may explain the opening reference to "We Wish you a Merry Christmas." Like many of Shostakovich's compositions, it bristles with nervous energy. And there may be an air of forced celebration. As the composer would write later, the regime would heap intolerable abuses on its citizens and tell them in no uncertain terms that "your business is rejoicing!" At the end, there are several "wrong" notes, which seem to threaten that triumphant conclusion. But the music ignores these, and we have our "happy" ending anyhow.

 


Music for December 24  Christmas Eve

Pastoral Dance on 'On Christmas Night'
Milford   ©

Canzone
Tunder

In dulci jubilo, Bwv 729
J. S. Bach




Take a look at the figures on our altar this evening. Notice, in particular, the shepherd on the right. He is the only one, the single representative of what would really have been a good number of shepherds. His sheep are evidently grazing offstage, shepherdless, while he gazes, from his back row seat, at the babe in the manger. An angel also looks on adoringly, again one of its kind, of whom the Bible says there was a heavenly host, which is basically an army of angels. This extraordinary scene, when a cotillion of celestial beings surprised a group of shepherds with an unannounced concert, must have been in the mind of Robin Milford when he wrote the piece you'll hear for tonight's offertory. It is both a pastorale (picturing shepherds and the countryside) and a dance of jubilation, recalling what the shepherds did after their trip to the manger, which was to rejoice and tell everyone. It is based on the hymn "On Christmas Night the angels sang" and you can hear, first the dance of the shepherds, and then later, a trumpet call from the heavens, and the piece gets louder and louder until the organ, at full throttle, tries to approximate the astonishing experience of a full chorus of angels singing in the night sky. They vanish--the shepherds rejoice.

 

Music for December 28

Pastorale no. 2 in A
Pintaric

Pastorale no. 3 in Bb
Pintaric
Music for January 4

Pastorale no. 1 in C
Pintaric

Pastorale no. 4 in F
Pintaric
If you're feeling ambitious, you can go to my blog and read the full 10 part series on shepherds and pastorales. Or you can just read the last two entries, which deal with the music for Dec 28th and Jan. 4th.

 

 

spring semester

Music for January 11

       
 

 

 

Music for January 18

 


 

 

Music for January 25



 



Music for January 29




 

 

Music for February 1


 

 

Music for February 8


 

 

Music for February 15



 

 

Music for February 22


 

 

Music for March 1


 




Music for March 8


 


Music for March 15

 

 

Music for March 22


 

Music for March 29





Music for April 5

 


Music for April 12


 

 

Music for April 19



 

Music for April 26


 

 

Music for May 3


 

 

Music for May 10


 


Music for May 17


 

 

Music for May 24


 

 

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Music for 2014-15 at Faith UMC in Champaign, IL USA for the
8:00 and 10:30 services


2014-15
Fall Semester
September 14, 2014
The organ returns!

Prelude in C, Bwv 547
J. S. Bach

Canzone in C, BuxWV 166
Buxtehude




September 21, 2014


Sonata in Bb
I. Allegro con brio
II. Andante Religioso

Mendelssohn



September 28, 2014

Sonata in Bb
IV. Allegro maestoso e vivace

Mendelssohn



October 5, 2014

Canon in Ab
Ciurlionis

I Come with Joy
Marteau


October 12, 2014

Canzon from Fiori Musicali
Frescobaldi




October 19, 2014

Grand Choeur in G
Salome

from Organ Sonata no. 4 in Bb
III. Allegretto
Mendelssohn


October 26, 2014
Reformation Sunday

Ein feste Burg
Walther




November 2, 2014
All Saints

Adoremus in Aeternum
Stell

copyrighted music posted with the kind permission of the composer and  the publisher, Fagus Music

www.evelynstell.com
www.forthinpraise.co.uk  (blog)
www.fagus-music.com


Fugue in C, Bwv 547
Bach



November 9, 2014

Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
Sonoreaux


Sonata in G, Hob. 11
III. Menuetto

Haydn




November 16, 2014

Be Thou My....
Marteau

Psalm 6
Grollen



November 23, 2014
"Thanksgiving"

Thanks
Grieg

We Gather Together
Marteau



November 30, 2014
Advent 1

Prelude in A Minor
(Bwv 543)
Bach

Fantasia in G
Bach



December 7, 2014
Advent 2
Choir Sunday

Pastorale
Liszt




December 14, 2014
Advent 3

unified drama in Worship and Life
(no piano/organ music)



December 21, 2014
Advent 4

Prelude XV
Shostakovich  ©

"Nativity"
Marteau



December 24, 2014
Christmas Eve

Pastoral Dance on 'On Christmas Night'
Milford

Canzona
Tunder

In Dulci Jubilo
J. S. Bach


December 28, 2014

Pastorale no. 2 in A
Pintaric

Pastorale no. 3 in Bb
Pintaric


January 4, 2015

Pastorale no. 1 in C
Pintaric

Pastorale no. 4 in F
Pintaric







Spring Semester

January 11, 2015



January 18, 2015


January 25, 2015


February 1, 2015



February 8, 2015



February 15, 2015

Ash Wednesday
Variations on Mein junges Leben hat ein End
Sweelinck

----

February 22, 2015
Lent 1

Vivaldi/Bach
Concerto in d minor



March 1, 2015



March 8, 2015



March 15, 2015




March 22, 2015



March 29, 2015
Palm Sunday

valet will ich dir geben, Bwv 736
J. S. Bach




April 5, 2015



April 12, 2015




April 19, 2015



April 26, 2015



May 3, 2015



May 10, 2015




May 17, 2015



May 24, 2015


May 31, 2015



June 7, 2014




June 14, 2014



June 21, 2014



June 28, 2014