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Sunday Music Musings Sept. 4, 2022

September 4, 2022

Dr. Anne’s blog is back! I might not write about EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC like I did during pandemic (the only way I could talk to you all!), but I will highlight the most interesting choir news of the week!

I am going to play the prelude on the flute to the tune BOURBON – one of the tunes I requested in the set of Three Lenten Works for Solo Flute that I commissioned from Thomas Keesecker during the pandemic. Thomas Keesecker (b. 1956) has enjoyed a long career as a church musician, which has allowed him the freedom to be creative in composing music in a variety of styles. He studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  Thomas wrote “Three Lenten Preludes for Solo Flute” with the dedication “For flutists everywhere during the Pandemic of 2020-2021. Commissioned by Anne Matlack, Melissa Honohan, Tom and Judy Honohan, Kris Lamb, and Maureen Lewis.”

We will use this hymn at communion. The tune Bourbon is a southern folk tune attributed to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859), a Pennsylvania surveyor. There are two texts in our hymnal, #147, “O Let us All with one Accord,” and the one we are using today, “Take Up Your Cross,” #675. This is a text by Charles William Everest (1814-1877), a priest from Connecticut.

Our Processional hymn (#9) often comes up in the fall, and it reminds me of fall with its minor key and poetry referencing “the royal robes of autumn moors”. The text of “Not here for high and holy things” is by Geoffrey Anketel Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929). According to Wikipedia, he was an English Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed Woodbine Willie during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers. After serving as chaplain and initially supporting the British war effort with enthusiasm (and rousing speeches), he became a pacifist and Christian Socialist. After the war, Studdert Kennedy led a church Lombard Street, London. His books Lies (1919), Democracy and the Dog-Collar (1921), Food for the Fed Up (1921), The Wicket Gate (1923), and The Word and the Work (1925) reflected his change of heart. He toured the country speaking on behalf of the working classes, and died in Liverpool, exhausted at the age of 45. The poor working people flocked to pay their respects at his funeral, but The Dean of Westminster refused burial at Westminster Abbey, because he said Studdert Kennedy was a “socialist,” even though he had distrusted most politicians and had refused to join any political party.

I don’t know how such a distinctly British poet came to be paired with such an American tune. Perhaps because MORNING SONG is a folk tune that has some resemblance to the traditional English tune for “Old King Cole,” a tune which appeared anonymously in Part II of John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music (1813). Morning Song is attributed to Elkanah Kelsey Dare (1782-1826), a Methodist minister who was born in New Jersey (a lot of these!) and moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sometime before 1818. Dare was probably the music editor for John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813), a shaped-note collection that includes more than a dozen of his own tunes. The tune is also known as CONSOLATION, its title in Kentucky Harmony (1816), where it was set to Isaac Watts’ morning song, “Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day.” Other texts that use this tune include “The King shall Come when Morning Dawns,” and “O Holy City, Seen of John.”

The postlude on this tune, by Gardner Read, actually references the title “Once More My Soul the Rising Day,” which explains the upward-leaping toccata figures in the hands, over the tune in the pedals, not to mention the morphing of the whole piece from minor up to major! Read (1913 – 2005) was born in Illinois. According to his obituary, he was a prolific composer of orchestral, choral, and chamber works and pieces for piano, organ, and solo voice. In addition, he authored a number of texts on musical notation and composition. Between 1941 to 1948, Read headed the composition departments at the St. Louis Institute of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1948, he was appointed composer-in-residence and professor of composition at the School of Music, Boston University, retiring in 1978. In addition, Read served as principal conductor with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra in 1943 and 1944, and put in guest conducting appearances over the years with the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Kansas City Philharmonic, and various university orchestras in performances of his own works.

The summer choir will sing an offertory anthem by Martin How, a very influential English church musician who died in July at the age of 91.  You can read about him here. https://insidecroydon.com/2022/07/27/martin-how-organist-who-devoted-his-life-to-church-music/

The text “Day by Day” is known as “Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester” and is possibly most famous for its use in the musical Godspell. When we were in residence at Winchester in 2015 we visited Chichester Cathedral on a very British rainy day!

St. Richard window at Chichester

I was so excited to start choirs this week! The children are working on an anthem for Sept. 18, service music and hymns, Halloween songs (for our concert October 29 at 7) and LOTS of Vaughan Williams, whose 150th  birthday we will celebrate with a hymn sing on Wednesday October 12 at 7 (please come!).

Last but not least, please welcome our new Gargoyles director/tenor Paul Salierno. Here is his bio: Paul graduated Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University with a BM in Music Education with a concentration in voice. Throughout his time there he sang with the Rutgers University Glee Club and the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir, both under the direction of Patrick Gardner. He also participated in student theatre as a music director and performer at Cabaret Theatre and Livingston Theatre Company. Since then, he has begun teaching elementary general/vocal music  in the Verona Public Schools where he grew up and is now entering his fourth year as a music teacher. Paul also has had the amazing opportunity to be the music director for the Verona High School Spotlight Players, working on shows such as The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Footloose.

Paul is beyond excited to share his talents and work with the amazing congregation and staff at Grace Episcopal. He is looking forward to meeting everyone! Some of his interests outside of music include cooking, exercising, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

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