PipeChat Digest #3098 - Friday, August 30, 2002
OHS Chicago 2002 - 6/29 Posting #6
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Re: prayer for choirs
  by "Mark Harris" <M.Harris@Admin.lon.ac.uk>

(back) Subject: OHS Chicago 2002 - 6/29 Posting #6 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 02:39:21 -0400   OHS Chicago 2002 - Saturday 6/29 Posting #6   This day had something of an English beginning, other than the fact that = no one "knocked me up with tea," as the English like to say! Bus departure = was again at the civilized hour of 9:00, for the short trip to St. James RC Church, Chicago. This is a fine building, first dedicated in 1880, and Consecrated in 1895, by which time the very long work of completing the interior was finished. The architect was Patrick C. Keely, who designed = both Holy Cross Cathedral and "The Immaculate" in Boston. He also designed Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, which the convention did not visit, and = which I have not seen. Quoting from the Organ Handbook, "On December 22, 1972, a devastating fire struck the church; it took eight hours before the fire = was extinguished. . . . . marble altars and Tiffany windows were lost among other artworks. Thankfully, the organ and tower chime were not destroyed." As we climbed out of our buses, the tower bells were ringing, in a = computer generated random clangor, but wonderful to hear. I said something to the priest at the top of the stairs about how nice it was to hear the bells. = He smiled his pleasure that anyone noticed. The 1891 organ here, two-manuals and 26 ranks, is by Frank Roosevelt, successor to Hilborne. [In the last posting, for 6/28, in First Congregational Church in Michigan City, = Stephen Schnurr was also playing an organ by Frank Roosevelt, not Hilborne, as I = had it.] I will quote from the Handbook something written in 1893 - it will = help set the stage for what we were to hear: " . . . the celebrated English organist, Frederic Archer is Organist. The Organ, by Roosevelt, is of two manuals, blown by an electric motor. The question now most naturally = arises, how is it such a great performer has such a small organ at his = disposition? In the first place, lack of room prevented the building of a larger one. = But this instrument must be heard to be appreciated. A peculiar occurrence happened at its dedication. The church being packed with hearers, the full power of the instrument proved to be insignificant; no gathering ever had such a marked effect upon an organ. Mr. Davis, Roosevelt's Chicago representative, immediately sent most of the pipes back to the New York factory, with an order for pipes of much larger scale." There is some question about whether or not new pipes were actually supplied. There is some evidence that perhaps Roosevelt merely raised the wind pressures. = There is, however, evidence that the reeds were replaced.   The "English" reference above was to a splendid recital given us here by David Dahl, Director of Music Ministries at Christ Church, Episcopal in Tacoma, WA, and recently retired after 30 years as Professor of Music and University Organist at Pacific Lutheran University. (He is decidedly American, but his program spoke English!) He spoke to us first, announcing that the Tremulant is not working. The audience response was a wonderful, comic, drawn out "Aw!". This defies analysis! To the program:   Purcell - Trumpet Fanfare, arranged by Biggs, and I think played on one of the King of Instruments LPs. The Handbook says the Great Trumpet is = harmonic from 45 - 54. That's pretty much in the range that would help explain how wonderfully gutsy was this Trumpet.   Mendelssohn - Allegro moderato - I believe from one of the recently discovered Krakow Manuscripts. A fine piece, and a magnificently full, impressive sound!   An English Suite Honoring the 18th century English Organ Art . . . David Dahl 1. Voluntary for the Diapasons - a truly lovely piece 2. Sarabande - Air "With lyricism" Beautiful. A solo with Quint 3. Voluntary for the Cornet or the Trumpet "With playful spirit" - Pleasantly surprising melodic twists 4. Pastoral for the Flutes "With serenity" - This really let the beautiful Flutes shine in this acoustic 5. Jigg "With jaunty humor" - Very clever indeed. This suite is a great addition to the repertoire. It is in print, = available through www.ohscatalog.org With this work, you will receive a short addenda sheet - there are a few errors in the first printing. Some time after David Dahl retired from Pacific Lutheran University, his much loved successor, James Dale Holloway, was tragically shot to death in a random violent act. This English Suite is in his memory.   Thalben-Ball . . . Elegy - Big, broad Diapason tone for the melody - gorgeous, and a wonderful build up. What a great instrument for this = music!   The Hymn - O Praise ye the Lord, to, of course, Parry's wonderful tune, Laudate Dominum. This is the tune which was given us in four glorious = parts, but someone can probably explain why the tune is called "Happy Land" in = the Hymn Supplement. It says it was taken from the Hymnal 1982, and I am = staring at the very page in that hymnal, and it is called, as it always has been, Laudate Dominum. Anyway, we sang the hell out of it, encouraged by the acoustic, the harmony, and the wonderful support from the Organ and organist. Then, a truly lovely Aria of Herbert Howells, unknown to me. Wonderful! And last, and also wonderful: Prelude on "Song 22" of Orlando Gibbons - C. V. Stanford - This was the perfect place and instrument for this program. The Stanford brought it all together beautifully! Well done, David Dahl   How wonderful to hear Dana Robinson again. He last played in my hearing at the Boston OHS Convention, and I can still hear the Widor Symphonie Gothique, with which he ended the program! We are now in the grand and gorgeous Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago. The organ is = something of a novelty to us easterners - Opus 90 of Lyon & Healy, built in 1902. In 1920, Emanuel Semerad carried out some mechanical work and installed a new Austin console. In 1950, Austin installed another new console. There are fifty stops, with lots of bottom, including a Double Open on the Great, = and two 8' Open Diapasons. There is a 32' Bourdon in the Pedal. The acoustic = for all of this is quite spacious. Most felt, however, that this very large organ does not make quite the impact one would expect, as one reads the specification. I was a bit more impressed than some - it's a matter of adjusting one's point of reference, I guess. The program consisted of the complete Widor Third Symphony in E Minor - a truly divine listening opportunity. But first, this church was awarded the OHS Plaque, at which point I became a bit concerned, when the Priest, in response said how good it was "to hear the Organ again!" When, pray, was the last time? Scary. We began by singing Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina Coelitum). There are = only two stanzas, but full harmony. This was incredibly moving, in this = acoustic, with this organ, and with a splendid accompaniment! Widor 3 - Can Widor have been pleased with the phenomenon of his = symphonies being "parted out?" Who knows? Perhaps he played single movements himself, but then one does not often/ever hear at a concert a single movement of a Beethoven symphony, does one? So many individual movements are wonderfully "useful," including THAT one - you know the one I mean! - so the = temptation is great. But it is a special experience hearing a complete symphony, in = the right place, with a sufficient instrument, and a sympathetic player. All three of those criteria were in place on this occasion. 1. Prelude - What phenomenal stuff to have rolling around in this = acoustic! It is music that keeps accumulating and retiring. I think the organ sounds glorious in this space. 2. Minuetto - Lovely Oboe and Flute cascading gently around the building. 3. Marcia - More cascading around, loud this time. 4. Adagio - A big Flute accompanied by Voix Celeste. Totally ethereal in this space, with a gorgeous Harmonic Flute at the end. 5. Final - Simply Magnificent, and the audience made it quite clear that = it was appreciated! Dana Robinson has Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from New England Conservatory, where he studied with Yuko Hayashi. He has a D.M.A. from U. = of Iowa, where he studied with Delbert Disselhorst. He teaches at the School of Music of the University of Illinois. In 1988, he studied with Harald Vogel at the North German Organ Academy, under the auspices of the Frank Huntington Beebe Fund. (Widor without heels?) Sorry! As mentioned above, = Dr. Robinson thrilled us with the complete Symphonie Gothique in Boston a = couple of years ago. Hearing the complete Third Symphony today was another memorable experience. Next year? Widor in Central Pennsylvania? Yes = Please!   Lunch was at Concordia University in River Forest - campus food has come a long way since my student days. There were separate serving islands for = all kinds of food - a Pasta Bar, of course a Salad Bar, Barbecue, Stir Fry, Desserts, Drinks, etc. The place was quite crowded with various sorts of summer students, but everything moved quite quickly and efficiently, and = the food was good indeed.   After lunch, we split into two groups, and our gang went first to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Chicago for a recital by James Russell Brown. = Mr. Brown, a graduate of Oberlin and New England Conservatory, is Vice = President of Administration and Head of the Keyboards Division at the Music = Institute of Chicago, and is Organist and Director of Music at St. Giles Episcopal Church in Northbrook. His instrument of the day is from 1891, built by the Lancashire-Marshall Organ Company, of Moline, IL. Up until the year this organ was built, the company was known at the Moline Organ Company. This organ has 12 stops, including two additions made in the 1987 restoration = by the Bradford Organ Company - a 2 Rank Mixture on the Great, and a 2' = Piccolo on the Swell.   The printed program began with a bit of confusion. It showed us beginning with: Hymn: A Song of Creation . . . William Bradley Roberts (b. 1947). = The program also showed us ending with a hymn: A Song of Creation . . . Dan Locklair. Here, there were very specific directions for singing this = unison hymn. The Hymn supplement gave the tune the name Whitehead, and attributed it to the afore-mentioned William Bradley Roberts, but Mr. Brown made a little speech about how the printed program was messed up, and in fact . . = .. .. and then something inaudible seemed to indicate who actually wrote the thing, but I could not hear it. The text is based on <Benedicite, Omnia Opera> Episcopal parishes used to sing in Lent at Mattins instead of Te Deum - I think I have that right. The paraphrase is by Carl P. Daw, Jr. I did a quick Google search, and found a quite nice anthem of this name and text by William Bradley Roberts. The tune before us has no part in it - it looks like an estimable piece, and one can download a PDF sample of it. = This leads me to conclude that the tune we were to sing was by Dan Locklair. It was something of a Sunday School tune. A lot of words had to move by quite quickly, and there was little memorable in the music to hang on to, I am afraid. The second stanza was "designed to fail," as Alan van Zoeren used = to say. First of all - old complaint - all the directions were in the Organ Handbook, not in the Hymn Supplement. But in this fast-moving hymn, = printed rather small: "line 1: women, line 2: men, line 3a: women, line 3b: men, = and line 4: all." Confusion reigned, and the whole effort seemed to me hardly worth it, a sad state of affairs for a group that is accustomed to singing great hymns really beautifully.   The program proper (finally) began with the Buxtehude E Minor Chaconne, = the repetitions in this lovely work rendered less effective with no = registration (or manual) changes, as I see it. Anonymous English - Sur "La, Mi, Re" Gigout - Scherzo Locklair - From Rubrics: The Peace may be exchanged - played quite = soulfully Frank Ferko - Angels (Chaconne). In this very slow-moving work, which, I fear, felt interminable, one could make out the Chaconne melody most of = the time, but I did not think that helped a great deal. I think it might = deserve another hearing. The program finished rather nicely with the BWV 540 Fugue in F. This is = the wonderful double subject fugue that appears with the famous F Major Toccata, but is often left unheard after performances of the Toccata. This was just retribution - the Fugue had a chance to shine on its own, glorious = creation that it is.   Thence to The Living Sanctuary of Faith Church of God in Christ! "Good Morning, this is The Living Sanctuary of Faith Church of God in Christ. = How may I help you?" (Big breath!) The building began life as Grace = Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1903, and the present organ was installed at that time, = a 19-stop, 2-manual mechanical instrument by the Burlington Pipe Organ Company, of Burlington, Iowa. The Lutherans moved on to bigger and better things, the Methodists used the building for a time, and the present congregation bought the building in January of 2001. I am afraid it = suffers from the acoustical tile on top, carpet on bottom syndrome, but the organ manages to make a statement nonetheless. Frederick L. Beal, now in Oregon, has some Illinois history, having served as Service Manager at the = Berghaus Organ Company, and I am guessing he was involved in some remedial work the company did on this Burlington instrument. He also served as organist of = St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Wilmette. He is presently Service Manager for Bond Organ Builders in Portland, Oregon, whose shop us old OHS types know quite well. In the Portland Convention some years ago, we had our nightly exhibit hall cum cash bar in that shop, as the hotel had some problem about providing the space. Good, hospitable folks they were. Mr. Beal studied Organ at U. of Tennessee at Knoxville, moving on to the Royal School of Church Music in Croydon, U.K. His program: Maurice Greene . . . Voluntary in C Minor Bach . . . the wonderful Schuebler setting of <Meine Seele> Bach, the not-so-little Fugue in G Minor, a bit hurt by a few inaccuracies Here followed two deeply-felt performances of two of the Dupre Fifteen Pieces: "I am Black but comely," and "How Fair and how Pleasant art Thou." Next, two Willan chorale preludes: The first on "St. Columba" and the = second on "Hyfrydol." We then sang the hymn "Love Divine, all loves excelling" to, of course, Hyfrydol, feeling very well supported by Mr. Beal. The final stanza was to = a reharmonization by Bairstow   Jonathan Hall is a native New Yorker, now back in New York as Organist and Choirmaster at Church of the Epiphany in Manhattan, but for some time a Chicago resident. He has, in fact, two Chicago Master's Degrees, one each from University of Chicago and Roosevelt University. He went on to earn a Doctorate at the University of Indiana. In New York, he plays a 1963 Whiteford Aeolian-Skinner instrument. At St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Forest Park, he got to play a signed Harrison Aeolian-Skinner of 1954. The stoplist looked just a bit scary to me, lacking, on paper, at least, significant fundamental tone. In fact, however, the effect in the good building was quite fine, not overpoweringly bright or thin, but clear and articulate with power enough to thrill. There is lots of exposed pipework, in a design influenced by Paul Bunjes, who later, in 1976, also consulted on the visual design of a Ruckpositif added by the Berghaus = Organ Company. Of its type, the whole effect is pleasing. Jon began with a spirited performance of the Bach/Vivaldi A Minor, rather = a fine choice for this instrument. For something completely different, this was followed by an Offertoire by Everett Truette (1861-1933), a Boston composer, and organ student of Guilmant and W. T. Best. What struck me as rather marginal stuff was = played with assurance enough to make it relatively palatable. John Henderson = tells of a book about woman composers which includes a listing for our hero as "Everette Truett." Now, in the 21st century, we hardly notice, but in the late 19th and early 20th century, what must people have thought - or did = the author of the book know something we do not? Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) was long associated with Duke Ellington, who sometimes received credit for compositions that were actually Strayhorn's. Lotus, or Lotus Blossom, in Alec Wyton's arrangement, works really well as an Organ piece, and very well on this particular instrument. I first heard it played by Jon at his own church in New York a year or so ago, and was happy to hear it again. If your curiosity is tweaked a bit, you can hear = it on Todd Wilson's "Quiet Cathedral" CD, and also on a CD by Christa Rakich, called Transcriptions from St. Justin's. You can find both recordings at www.ohscatalog.org/ The Hymn! O love, how deep, how broad, how high . . . to the tune <Deus tuorum militum> We received glorious support in roaring out this strong, unison tune, and it was immediately followed by a brilliant Sowerby piece = I had never heard, Prelude on, you guessed it, <Deus tuorum militum> If you have good fingers, this is a wonderful piece to seek out. It was a = fabulous ending for a fine recital.   Christa Rakich is a wonderful, strong player, and so it was with great joy that I learned that she was to become Director of Music at "The = Immaculate," or Jesuit Urban Center in Boston, with its astonishing E. & G. G. Hook, = Hook & Hastings instrument. This news came to us at the great OHS Convention in Boston a couple of years ago, which had given us two fine opportunities to hear this glorious instrument. Christa also teaches at New England Conservatory. Her program for this convention was generously supported by the Chicago Chapter of the AGO. We are now in the Arts Center of Oak Park, with a quite sturdy = three-manual, 1916 Kimball Organ that was present at the dedication of the original church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The long time Organist here was Lily Wadhams Moline, some of whose music we have heard during this convention. The program consisted of works by four woman composers, but ended with the work of a composer one would not even remotely think could be found in a book about woman composers! Wait for it! Clara Schumann - Prelude Fugue in D Minor, Opus 16, No. 3. This is good solid if stolid stuff, and, of course, solidly played. Furore Verlag publishes this and two other Preludes and Fugues as Organ works, but they are originally for piano. The second work from the hand of a woman composer was the hymn we sang, = both tune and words by Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) - "Shout, shout, up with = your song." Smyth was a Suffragette, struggling for voting rights for women in England, and this was a kind of battle hymn for the cause. It seemed to me not a particularly memorable tune, and going up to an E flat caused some = to drop off. Smyth also wrote a few chorale preludes. Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968) 1. Response for Easter (Victimae Paschali) - A virile piece (1968) with = big movements of blocks of chords. Quite exciting. 2. Four really wonderful Choral Preludes (from a set of twelve from 1950)) Rorate Coeli (Ornamented Chorale) Hosanna Filio David (Chorale Prelude) Domine Jesu (Berceuse) Veni Creator Spiritus (Toccata) Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) - Nocturne - A rich, gentle, and lovely piece, actually a transcription from a work for wind ensemble. Marcel Dupre - Most players tend to stop at one in a single recital, but the indefatiguable Christa Rakich gave us wonderful, strong performances = of the three Opus 7 Preludes and Fugues. G Minor first, then F Minor, and finally, the fantastical B Major. Definitely Saturday Night Live!   Cheers,   Malcolm Wechsler            
(back) Subject: Re: prayer for choirs From: "Mark Harris" <M.Harris@Admin.lon.ac.uk> Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 09:27:05 +0200   At my church we use the sentence "Grant, O Lord, that what we have said and sung with our lips, we may may practise and shew forth in our lives" as a prayer after the service.   Mark Harris