As we welcome new members into Plymouth this Sunday, a potpourri of musical offerings to exemplify the diversity of the congregation seems apropos for morning worship.
From the Baroque era, "Chaconne in E Minor" by German composer Dietrich Buxtehude begins the services. The chaconne was originally a late-16th century dance song from Spanish culture (chacona). It evolved into a triple meter instrumental form consisting of variations over a repetitive chord structure and sometimes ground bass, as will be heard in Buxtehude's work. The Plymouth Ringers return this program year with an arrangement of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Susan Geschke at both morning services. John Rutter's setting of the 1558 Sarum Primer prayer "God Be In My Head" will be offered by the Chancel Choir at the later service. To conclude, we'll hear Rutter's "Toccata in Seven," so named for the asymmetrical 7/4 time signature present throughout the piece.
Guitarist Alan Skowron and cantor Blair Carpenter return this week and join Bobby and bassist Peter Strening for a jazz- inflected service at 6:00 p.m.
To reflect Rev. Jake's foray into the concept of personal salvation this week, a notion not unfamiliar to those of us with an evangelical upbringing, the following musical offerings this Sunday morning. Soliloquy by David Conte is a beautifully introspective work beginning with a distinctive solo flute voice, growing to a chorus of contemporary harmonies, and returns to the singular flute melody. Two selections from William Bolcom's brilliant Gospel Preludes will also be heard: Jesus Calls Us; O'er the Tumult during the early service communion and Blessed Assurance to send us out into the world. In addition to these staples of the evangelical songbook, the spiritual This Little Light of Mine, arranged by Mark Hayes, will be sung by the Chancel Choir.
At 6:00 p.m., cantor Blair Carpenter, guitarist Alan Skowron, and bassist Peter Strening will join Bobby in letting go the 'shackles of the world' for an hour of inspired and devotional music and congregational song
Writing organ works based on chorales is a time-honored tradition among composers for the organ, serving practical purposes for service use as well as creative variations on a theme for the concert hall. Sigfrid Karg-Elert produced his 66 Chorale Improvisations, Op. 65, dedicated to French organist Alexandre Guilmant, between 1906-1908 in six volumes encompassing chorales from the entire liturgical year. An Wasserflüssen Babylon (By the rivers of Babylon), a meditation on Psalm 137, begins the morning services. And from his compilation 20 Preludes and Postludes (1912), a postludium on the chorale Sollt ich meinem Gott nicht singen (I will sing my maker's praises) completes the services. Gabriel Fauré's setting of Pie Jesu, from the famous Requiem in D Minor, will be sung at the early service by soprano Blair Carpenter, who also serves often as cantor for the 6:00 p.m. service and sings with the Chancel Choir regularly as part of the Choral Section Leader Program. At 11:00 a.m., the Chancel Choir will present Blessed Be the Lord, My Rock by composer Abbie Betinis, a work conceived on September 12, 2001 as a response to the national tragedy a day prior and a prayer to the victims and survivors.
At the 6:00 p.m. service, the music will take on a distinctive Hawaiian flair with steel guitarist Chris Kennison and Plymouth's resident ukulele guru Stuart Yoshida.
The prelude and postlude at the morning services are both culled from French composer Léon Boëllmann's famous organ work Suite gothique (1895). Movement three, Prière, opens the services with a serene musical meditation. Movement two of the suite, the Menuet, closes the services with a majestic triple meter jaunt. The Chancel Choir anthem is Offertory by John Beck. The Ohio native was a well-respected choral composer and conductor who also was instrumental in establishing two music related companies: The University Music House in Columbus and the Beckenhorst Press. His Offertory has become a staple in church choirs across the country since its publication in 1987.
After enjoying good food and fellowship at the annual Taste of Plymouth event, come to the 6:00 p.m. service for a worshipful experience to end your day. Bobby will have an impressive roster of musicians and singers to lead you in song and offer a musical welcome to all as you into the sanctuary. Music by Beck (not John...), Leonard Cohen, Arlo Guthrie, Paul Simon, and Tom Waits will be heard. Hope to see you there!
Each week, Director of Music Mark Heiskanen writes a Music Minute previewing the upcoming Sunday's musical offerings and occasionally opines on other music-related topics.
We are blessed by an engaging music program at Plymouth!
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life.