“Simple Song”, from Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers
will be sung by our soprano choral section leader Emily Morris at both the 9:00 and 11:00 services. Flutist and Chancel Choir member Aaron McGrew will provide the obligato. MASS was commissioned by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and received its premiere in 1971 at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The Chancel Choir offers British composer Will Todd’s “Lighting the Way.” Subtitled "A Song for Pilgrims," the work was composed for the 1999 Lighting the Way Festival at Durham Cathedral in England.
A selection from Ned Rorem’s Organ Book III (1989), “Impromptu,” begins the morning services. Rorem won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his orchestral composition, “Air,” and is also a published author, notably his essays on music and personal diaries. Canadian organist Healey Willan’s setting of the English folk melody Deo Gracias (translated "Thanks to God") closes the services. The tune is commonly known as the Agincourt Carol, the melody originating in the early fifteenth century in commemoration of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.
Bobby welcomes two new additions to the 6:00 service musicians roster this week. Guitarist Alan Skowron is an active performer and instructor in the area specializing in jazz and classical. Vocalist Hannah Walters is also the music director and organist of Peace With Christ Lutheran Church here in Fort Collins. Bassist Guy Keith, percussionist Matt Brown, and yours truly will also be present and together provide a musically contemplative worship experience.
Director of Music
This Sunday morning’s choral and organ music will all hail from Britain. Two organ selections from Six Pieces by Frank Bridge, Allegro comodo and Allegro ben moderato, will be offered. The composer’s organ works are among his oft-performed repertoire. Bridge was also a mentor to his colleague and friend Benjamin Britten. Philip Wilby’s setting of “If ye love me,” a lovely alternative to the Thomas Tallis standard, will be sung by the Chancel Choir at 11:00, accompanied by organist Jean Merkel.
Come to the 6:00 service where Bobby and vocalist Adrienne Harlow will bring a gospel-tinged flavor to the congregational songs and musical selections.
This Sunday morning will be steeped in the musical imagination of famed Baroque composer George Frideric Händel (1685-1759). At the 9:00 service, violinist Harmony Tucker and myself will play Händel’s Sonata No. 1 in A Major as the prelude. Come early and hear this amazing work! Excerpts from Sonata No. 3 in F Major will also be offered.
At 10:00, join Dr. John Pippen in the Forum Room for his presentation on Part III of Händel’s Messiah. Dr. Pippen, Assistant Professor of Music History and Musicology at Colorado State University, will discuss the history of the work, the genre of the oratorio in general and its creators, and aspects of this Easter portion of Handel’s oratorio including form and text setting.
At 11:00, we will all have the privilege of experiencing the third part of Händel’s masterwork Messiah (1741). Accompanied by an eleven member chamber orchestra and featuring soloists from around the Fort Collins area, the Chancel Choir and friends will present all nine sections of part three in their entirety.*
Please join us for this Easter season service of scripture and music from Händel’s beloved oratorio, Messiah.
At 6:00, Bobby will be joined by harpist Alaina Borgers and friends for a Celtic-inspired service with other musical excursions very possible.
Director of Music
*Recordings of the musical offerings from April 29
Eastertide and Earth Day will be acknowledged in the music selections this Sunday.
French composer Louis Vierne, also famously the titular organist at Notre Dame Cathedral from 1900 until his death in 1937, will be represented by the sprightly “Chant de Printemps” (Spring Song). Italian concert organist Marco Bossi’s “Alleluja – Final,” from 6 Pieces, Op. 70 (1891) will close the morning services.
The Chancel Choir offers American composer William Albright’s “Look There! The Christ.” Taken from his collection of Six New Hymns (1983), this Easter text is set to verses over an intricate accompaniment in dual time signatures and a chorus reminiscent of gospel and blues rock. This approach of creating synergy between several seemingly incompatible styles of music is a hallmark of Albright’s compositional ethos.
On Sunday evening, Earth Day and environmental awareness will be focused upon with music both old and new. Saxophonist Bill Cleary and vocalist Kristen Smith will join Bobby and others for an evening of predominantly American music including gospel, jazz, and Native American sounds, with flute, and possibly a touch of Gregorian chant…
Many of this week’s musical selections have nature-oriented themes in support of the Environmental Fair held this Sunday, April 15, in the Fellowship Hall. I will play two selections from Flor Peeters’ Lied Symphony, op. 66 for the morning preludes. At the 9:00 service, “Lied to the Flowers,” a set of variations on an original chant-like melody fully utilizing the colors of the organ will be presented. “Lied to the Mountains,” a noble work ably capturing the majesty of the mountains well-known in our own natural habitat, begins the 11:00 service. These songs of nature were sketched out on an organ recital tour by Flor Peeters in 1947 and completed the following year. He considered the whole work a “symphonic Benedicite,” a hymn to nature and its creator.
Springtime Easter carols will be sung throughout the services and one played as a postlude as a toccata on “Gaudeamus Pariter” (often paired with the Easter text “Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain”) by James Biery.
The Chancel Choir will also offer John Rutter’s setting of “For the Beauty of the Earth” at the 11:00.
At 6:00, acoustic music featuring banjo player Josh Beard will be presented with a focus on folk and bluegrass. Environmentally-friendly songs by John Bell and hymn writers of the past, reconstructed, will also be shared.
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.