Organ works by 20th century American composers will permeate the morning service this holiday weekend.
"Aria" by Paul Manz begins worship with an instrumental depiction of the classic vocal solo aria. A setting of the hymn "Jesus Calls Us, o'er the Tumult" by William Bolcom contains jazz-inspired harmonies composed in a chorale prelude style reminiscent of the Baroque era. Daniel Pinkham's "Festive March" sends us out into the day. The piece is an excellent example of the composer's quirky and idiosyncratic harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities.
It is also worth noting that Pinkham was organist for 42 years at King's Chapel in Boston, the first Anglican church established in New England in 1686.
A potpourri of sounds this Sunday as our music ensembles take leave for the summer.
Staff singer and soprano Blair Carpenter shares two spirituals, "Deep River" and "Ride On, King Jesus!" arranged by H.T. Burleigh and Hall Johnson, respectively. Both men were contemporaries and instrumental in combining the American spiritual to art music. The Chancel Choir offers Mark Miller's "God Has Work for Us to Do" at the 11:00 a.m. service. The modern and edgy text by Carl Daw speaks to the injustices of our world and calls us all to be the instrument of God to undo them. Mark Miller's setting is reminiscent of musical theater and evokes a hopeful and poignant backdrop to this amazing text. To close the morning services, I offer an exciting setting of our Doxology tune, "Lasst uns erfeuen" by my Cincinnati College-Conservatory former colleague, Brenda Portman. She currently is an organ professor at Xavier University and Resident Organist at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, both in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This Sunday's music is inspired by the bucolic setting of Psalm 23. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is sometimes known as "Good Shepherd Sunday" for the traditionally prescribed reading of this famous psalm and its message of assurance and comfort. And it does appear the local weather will cooperate offering us a nice backdrop during the services...
"Pastorale" by British organist and composer Alec Rowley opens the morning services. A pastorale is a traditional music form, usually in a compound triple meter, meant to evoke nature: a pastoral scene. The apt "Toccata for a Joyful Day" by eminent American composer Emma Lou Diemer sends us out on an exciting and jubilant note at the 11:00 a.m. service.
This Sunday is also the last of the season for Plymouth's hand bell choirs. At 9:00 a.m., the Youth Bells will ring a setting of "Here I Am, Lord" by Arnold Sherman during communion and "A Time for Joy" by Cynthia Dobrinski at the postlude. The Plymouth Ringers offer "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Susan Geschke at the 11:00 a.m. service.
Also at 11:00, the Chancel Choir sings a beautiful setting of Psalm 23 by composer and virtuoso vocalist Bobby McFerrin. The composition is dedicated to the memory of his mother, who also was an accomplished singer. Sara Copper had served as a Metropolitan Opera judge and chaired the vocal department at Fullerton College in California. McFerrin's psalm paraphrase incorporates an abundance of feminine imagery.
At 6:00 p.m., Bobby and Blair are joined by harpist Alaina Bongers and flutist Rebecca Quillen for further explorations of bucolic imagery in Celtic musical offerings and an arrangement of Mack Wilberg's choral setting "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need."
The indigenous history of music in Mexico was significantly impacted by European immigrants and missionaries, Spanish colonists, and the neighboring countries of Central and South America. This week, we will explore these influences through our worship offerings. What will be heard is the merging of local folk stylings melded with the Western European art music aesthetic.
In the morning, services will begin with "Tiento de dos tiples" by Spanish Baroque composer Paul Bruna. Tiento means "touch:" and tiples "a soprano guitar," an instrument with origins in Spanish Renaissance music. Taken together, this organ work denotes a dual melody which was played on the divided keyboard of the 17th century Spanish organ: upper register for the "sopranos" and lower register for the quiet accompaniment. Eduardo Torres' "Final" closes the services with a setting reminiscent of Spanish guitar sounds and techniques though through a 20th-century lens. For the 9:00 a.m. communion time, we will hear "Elevation" by Baroque Italian composer Domenico Zipoli. As a Jesuit missionary, he emigrated to what is now present day Argentina to teach and compose music among the Guarani people.
At 11:00 a.m., the Chancel Choir will present "Journey Home" by composer and Professor of Composition at Concordia University Abbie Betinis. It is a poignant piece recounting the travels and dreams of migrants to a foreign land in the hope for a better life. A pertinent topic in our culture, to say the least.
At this week's 6:00 p.m. Dinner Church, Bobby and Blair are joined by guitarist Alan Skowron for a Spanish-inflected musical presentation.
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.