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Weekly Music Notes

May 28, 2017: “Peace” by David Boelzner

Today’s Music: At the offertory the choir will reprise my anthem Peace. It sets Jesus’s words, “My peace I give you…” The women’s voices begin in two-part harmony, then the section repeats with all four voice parts. A middle section on “Do not let your hearts be troubled” begins with the basses, with imitative entries in each voice building to a climax, suddenly quieting on “Do not be afraid.” A repeat of the opening section with all voices leads to a short coda. David Boelzner

May 21, 2017: “Cantate Domino,” by James Chepponis

Today’s Music: The anthem is Cantate Domino (Sing to the Lord) by James Chepponis (b. 1956), an organist, composer, and Roman Catholic priest who served the Pittsburgh diocese as director of the diocesan music ministry and as music director at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Cantate Domino has a light, lilting triple rhythm, with chordal opening and closing sections, divided by Alleluias in imitative lines among the voices. It ends with one long cheerful Alleluia. David Boelzner

May 14, 2017: Antiphonal “Alleluia” by William Boyce

Music Notes: As an anthem the choir will sing an antiphonal (literally “opposing sound”; here it is ensembles that oppose) “Alleluia” by the English Baroque composer William Boyce (d. 1779). Boyce, a contemporary of Handel and Bach, was master of the King’s music beginning in 1755. Like Beethoven, he went deaf. The choir is divided into three groups; all sing the tune through once together in unison, but the tune is cleverly constructed so that it can be sung against itself, which is what happens as each group enters with it in succession (as in a round). David Boelzner

May 7, 2017: “Hail, thou once despised Jesus!”

Today’s Music: The hymnal information gives only a clue as to the origin of our recessional hymn, (“Hail, thou one despised Jesus!,”): the language “Oude in Nieuwe …” etc. is Dutch, and the tune is a traditional Dutch melody. It was discovered and incorporated into hymn collections by that source of so many Anglican hymns, Ralph Vaughan Williams, in an arrangement by Dutch musician Julius Rontgen (1855-1932). Rontgen was an important composer, conductor music scholar, editor, and friend to some of the great composers of his time, including Brahms, Grieg, and Liszt.  David Boelzner

Apr. 30, 2017: Counterpoint

Today’s Music: The anthem, “Now the Green Blade Rises,” is a setting of an old French carol, Noël Nouvelet, in a two-part arrangement using a lot of imitation (one voice part echoing another). Why do composers use this device so frequently? A hallmark of Western music, as compared with that of other cultures, is the use of counterpoint, more than one recognizable melody sounding at the same time. It grew out of the practice of singing by monks in French monasteries and cathedrals and was brought to high art by Renaissance composers and then by J.S. Bach. It demonstrates ingenuity in matching the sounds of each melody against the other, which perhaps accounts for its appeal. D. Boelzner

Apr. 23, 2017: “O filii et filiae”

Music Notes: 15th century

Apr. 16, 2017: “Come, Ye Faithful” by Reginald S. Thatcher

Music Notes: The anthem for Easter, ” Come, Ye Faithful,” is by Reginald S. Thatcher (d. 1957), an English composer of a conservative bent, music director at Harrow “public” school, principal of the Royal Academy of Music, and deputy director of music at the BBC. The melody is either an English folk melody or contrived to sound like one (I’ve found no information on this). It is heard three times, first in unison, then by the women while the lower voices join with harmonized Alleluias, finally by the men and the congregation (you’ve heard the tune twice now), with the women singing Alleluias. David Boelzner

Apr. 9, 2017: “For God so loved the world,” by Bob Chilcott

Music Notes: The anthem for Palm Sunday is a lovely contemporary setting of “For God so loved the world,” by Bob Chilcott, British composer and former tenor with the King’s Singers, a splendid a cappella vocal group. When the main theme repeats, listen for the haunting solo soprano voice that weaves in and out over the texture of the choir singing softly. David Boelzner

Apr. 2, 2017: “Ave Verum,” by Robert Lau

Today’s Music: The anthem, “Ave Verum,” is by Pennsylvania native Robert Lau (b. 1943), long-time organist and choir director at Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church in Camp Hill, PA. Lau employs harmonies other than basic triads, often leaving a chord “unresolved,” as at the end of the piece where the women’s voices are a major second apart, an interval that is generally considered “dissonant” but works in this context. Also listen for the lovely effect of parallel triads in the women’s voices right after the tenor entrance on “cujus, cujus latus.” DB