Songs of early America, new beginnings, and faith. Wayfaring strangers we may be—but never alone.
From "Five Dances for Organ" by Calvin Hampton, "Those Americans" possibly expresses the hustle and bustle of the stereotypical American citizen through a flurry of repetitive minimalist figures in this brief charming work. During communion, the classic spiritual "Let Us Break Bread" is re-imagined in a jazz idiom by Charles Callahan. A triumphant and exciting toccata setting of the folk tune "How Firm a Foundation" by Craig Phillips closes the services (just in time for burritos!).
The Chancel Choir will present their first anthem in person since March 2020! The Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" is interwoven with the hoary "Pachelbel's Canon" in a joyful setting by Donald Moore. Lift every voice and sing!
It was common practice in the Baroque era that organists could improvise a clearly defined polyphonic imitative composition — a fugue— on a given or chosen theme. The base motive is introduced with additional voices methodically entering the texture one at a time based on the initial fugue subject or as supporting musical material. The end result can be quite intricate as shown in the virtuosic fugue works of J.S. Bach, the pinnacle of this compositional technique.
For this Sunday morning (the last pre-recorded service we hopefully will ever need to do!), we explore the little cousin of the fugue, the fughetta. Although less ambitious in form and scope, the imitative characteristics of the fugue remain intact but in a concentrated work. A generation before Bach, Johann Pachelbel produced a number of fughettas of which we'll hear the Fugue in C Major—a spirited delightful piece that showcases his keen understanding of counterpoint. A contemporary setting by Richard Proulx on the hymn tune "Engelberg" (commonly associated with the text "When in Our Music God Is Glorified") closes morning worship with a Neo-Baroque spirit.
The works of Henry Thacker ("Harry") Burleigh were known for integrating art music with traditional African-American spirituals. Soprano Blair Carpenter offers one such work in "'Tis Me, O Lord" during the Musical Offering. Burleigh was instrumental in introducing black music to the classical world and of note to composer Antonín Dvořák, who incorporated those sounds into his own music.
At 6:00 p.m., songs of praise and thanksgiving with cantor Blair Carpenter and ukulelist Stuart Yoshida.
Hear my silent prayer
Heed my quiet call
When the dark and blue surround you
Step into my sigh
Look inside the light
You will know that I have found you
from "Dreamcatcher" by Secret Garden
A dreamcatcher is a Native American talisman believed to offer protection to the home it resides in. We all seek protection from the universe, the divine, as we travel the roads of our lives. This Sunday, songs of faith and praise to accompany the journey.
The musical term cantabile means to perform in a flowing style in the manner of singing. César Franck premiered his "Trois pièces," which included "Cantabile," in 1878. This prayerful expressive work has been in the standard organ repertoire ever since. The solo reed stop evokes a soprano voice singing an aria supported by a sensuous and highly chromatic flute accompaniment.
Secret Garden is a group led by Irish violinist and vocalist Fionnuala Sherry and Norwegian composer and pianist Rolf Løvland. After winning the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest, they have gone on to sell over three million albums consisting primarily of instrumental compositions. Their work "Dreamcatcher" (from the 1999 album "Dawn of a New Century") begins and ends with a brief lyric expressing the mystery of solace in the universe. The music that follows is of a beautiful melancholic nature that surges with hope and beauty. Violinist Abigail Morgan joins us.
A hymn of praise closes the morning service with a setting of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" by Baroque composer Johann Gottfried Walther. The well-known tune sounds gloriously from the pedal reeds as the manuals echo themes from the cantus firmus. Walther was also a respected organist and music theorist and held the distinction of being a contemporary and cousin to the most famed of all Baroque composers— Johann Sebastian Bach.
The 6:00 p.m. "eclectic" service certainly lives up to this description with music offered from the Celtic, jazz, early American, and gospel traditions. Violinist Harmony Tucker joins Blair and I for this diverse worship service on the eve of summer.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed opens us to the mystery of the Kingdom of God—seemingly miraculous growth from an unlikely source with Joy and Peace aplenty.
Rhonda Larson composed a lovely solo flute work entitled "Be Still My Soul" in 2003 which incorporates the famous Jean Sibelius theme and hymn tune "Finlandia." This Sunday, we hear Plymouth member Aaron McGrew's adaptation of the piece for flute choir. By recording the solo with selective elements of the auxiliary accompaniment part, Aaron creates a layered tapestry of evocative timbres including effects such as singing into the flute.
From the organ we hear two selections from the Emma Lou Diemer catalogue.
First, her whimsical arrangement of the nature hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful," a delightful and fanciful ode to God's creation. Lastly, her "Toccata for a Joyful Day," a piece that is faithful to its title.
At the 6:00 p.m. outdoor service, we will learn to trust the seeds and cherish the holy ground we stand on—this soil of God. Bassist Peter Strening joins Blair and I for this early evening worship service out on the green.
It has been nearly two years since we convened
For worship at Rolland Moore Park, so pristine
Celtic folk tunes
'Murican ones too
Give thanks for the fellowship out on the green!
See you Sunday at 10 a.m.!
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.