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Friday Lenten Recital of Women Composers, March 18, 2022

March 18, 2022

LENTEN ORGAN RECITAL March 18 2022 12:15 p.m.

A Celebration of Women Composers

Dr. Anne Matlack, organ

Order for Noonday Prayers                                 Book of Common Prayer p.103

Ego Flos Campi                                                   Caterina Assandra (1590-1618)

Domine Jesu – Berceuse                                       Jeanne Demessieux (1921 – 1968)

Petit Canon                                                          Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)

Weary Land                                                          Emily Maxton Porter (b. 1942)

Variations on Nettleton                                        Undine Smith Moore (1904 –1989)

Agora Sacred Suite: I Aurelia: The Hymn            Sharon J. Willis (b. 1949)

Kyrie cum Jubilo                                                  Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968)

Love Song – Interlude for Organ                         Sarah Rimkus (b.1990)          

Finale from First Sonata for Organ                     Florence Price (1887-1953)

Anne Matlack is organist-choir director at Grace Church where she directs a full program of choirs.  She holds a B.A. in Music from Yale University and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from the University of Cincinnati.  Her organ teachers have included Charles Krigbaum (Yale) and David Mulbury (Cincinnati) as well as serving as organist/choir director at Grace Church, she is Artistic Director of Harmonium Choral Society. This series was founded by her predecessor Helen E.J. Thomas in the 1950s, and even during 2021 we did a virtual concert of women composers in her honor which can be found on the Grace Church YouTube Channel.

Compline is chanted by candlelight the choir stalls Thursdays in Lent 8:45-9 pm March – April 7

Thank you for coming to this series! We have not yet resumed lunch/dessert. Masking is recommended during the performance. There may be a few hesitations as I perform without a page turner today.

Ego flos campi (I am the Flower of the Field, referring to the Song of Songs) is by a little know woman composer from the 17th century, Caterina Assandra (c. 1590-after 1618). According to editor Calvert Johnson, Assandra was one of many Italian nuns associated with convents around Milan who composed music at that time. She took her vows as a nun in 1609 at the cloister of Sant’ Agata in Lomello near Pavia. While at the cloister, Assandra studied counterpoint with Benedetto Re, or “Reggio,” one of the leading teachers at Pavia Cathedral. She published a collection of 20 motets, two of which were also used as keyboard pieces.

In 1923 French organist, pianist, composer, and pedagogue, Jeanne Marie-Madeleine Demessieux, began studies at the Paris Conservatory and was appointed titular organist at Saint-Esprit, a post she held for 29 years. She studied organ privately with Marcel Dupré for many years before she played her début recital in Paris in 1946 and launched an international career. She played more than 700 concerts in Europe and the USA. Demessieux had a prodigious memory: she had memorized more than 2,500 works, including the complete organ works of J.S. Bach, César Franck, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn and Marcel Dupré. In 1962, Jeanne Demessieux was appointed titular organist at La Madeleine in Paris. In addition, she was Professor of organ at Nancy Conservatoire (1950-1952) and the Conservatoire Royal in Liège, Belgium (1952-1968). Only one third of her catalogue, which consists of more than 30 compositions, has been published to date. This piece is from a collection of chant-based works for the liturgical year. Those familiar with Duruflé’s Requiem may recognize the chant Domine Jesu Christe.

Juliette Nadia Boulanger was an incredibly influential French music teacher and conductor. She taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century, and also performed occasionally as a pianist and organist. Boulanger was the first woman to conduct many major orchestras in America and Europe, including the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Hallé, and Philadelphia orchestras. She conducted several world premieres, including works by Copland and Stravinsky. In Petit Canon the use of the reed stop in the second voice helps the canon to be heard.

Emily Maxson Porter is both a painter and organist and organ composer. She writes “Over the years I have variously been a teacher, organist, composer, software engineer, and visual artist; common to all these endeavors has been a creative spirit.” Organists, her website is a treasure trove of free to use organ music. Weary Land combines the spiritual “My God is  Rock” with the Protestant hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.”

Known to some as the “Dean of Black Women Composers,” Undine Smith Moore‘s career in composition began while she was at Fisk. While her range of compositions includes works for piano and for other instrumental groups, Moore is more widely known for her choral works. Scenes from the Life of a Martyr, a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for chorus, orchestra, solo voices and narrator was premiered at Carnegie Hall and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. This short but varied composition sets the tune commonly used for “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Dr. Sharon J. Willis is the former Department Chair of Music at Morris Brown College and Clark Atlanta University; she holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (University of Georgia); Master’s in Church Music (Scarritt Graduate School in Nashville); a Master’s in Music (Georgia State University), and a Bachelor of Arts degree (Clark College). Willis is also the Founding Director of Americolor Opera Alliance.  She has written 16 operatic works to date that feature Afro-Centric, Social, Health, and American subjects. Sharon J. Willis is the only woman composer in the United States to have founded an opera company and been its principal composer. Willis has received commissions many commissions and awards, including two from the AGO. This is the first movement of a three movement work based on the tune for “The Church’s One Foundation,” The Agora Sacred Suite.

Roxanna Panufnik is a British composer of Polish heritage, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music. She has written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television, which are regularly performed all over the world. Among her most widely performed works are Westminster Mass, commissioned for Westminster Cathedral Choir on the occasion of Cardinal Hume’s 75th birthday in May 1998.bThis work sets the Kyrie that is familiar to many of us that remember Rite I service music in a clear but slightly dissonant and individual style.

Sarah Rimkus is an American composer who recently earned her PhD at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, studying with Phillip Cooke and Paul Mealor. She received her BMus in music composition from the University of Southern California in May 2013, where she developed a love of choral music while studying with Morten Lauridsen. She has written a great deal of sacred choral music, and won awards and commissions.. She was born in Washington, DC and moved to Bainbridge Island, WA in 1998, where she grew up inspired by the beautiful American west coast. This composition came about during the pandemic when her cat, Worf, was sitting on the keyboard (left hand pedal point) and she improvised above it.Florence Price (1887-1953) was born into a middle-class family in Little Rock, Arkansas. She attended New England Conservatory, one of the few conservatories to admit African-Americans at that time. She returned to Arkansas, married and began to raise a family, composing songs, short pieces and music for children. In 1927 she moved to Chicago, divorced her abusive husband and began to compose larger works as well. Price was the first black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony in E Minor in 1933. She sketched or finished 4 symphonies, wrote songs setting to music poems by Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and became well-known for her arrangements of spirituals. Her orchestral music is Dvorak-like in that it is well-orchestrated late Romantic style claiming elements of the African-American heritage in references to jazz, spirituals, and chromaticism with a luminous quality uniquely her own. You can read more about her in my blog from August 1, 2020 (and many other better sources!)

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