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Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225


To Know Christ and to Make Him Known



Weekly Music Notes

Sep. 28, 2014

The music for the well-known processional hymn, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” was composed not by a professional musician but by a skilled amateur.  Oliver Holden (d. 1844) was a carpenter, ran a general store, dealt in real estate, served as justice of the peace, and for 15 years served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  He was also pastor of the local Puritan church.  A great lover of music, he composed hymn tunes and published several collections of hymns. Our anthem this morning is also the contribution of another skilled musical amateur, our own Dick Hickman, who, come to think of it, also has ties to a legislature.  – D. Boelzner

Sep. 21, 2014

The communion hymn, 326, “From Glory to Glory,” nicely illustrates “relative” keys or modes.  Whether a scale is in major or minor mode depends on the order of the 5 whole steps and 2 half steps of the scale in relation to the tonal center.  (A half step is the gap between two adjacent notes on a piano, including black keys.)  This hymn begins with its first phrase in E minor.  The phrase is then mirrored exactly but starting three notes higher, in the relative major.  It’s the same scale, but the focus of the tonal center a third higher shifts the half-step locations in relation to the tonal center, which in turn affects the harmony, emphasizing the “brighter” major rather than the “darker” minor chords  – D. Boelzner

Sep. 14, 2014

The prelude (Prelude, Op. 11, No. 12) is an early work of the Russian Alexander Scriabin (d. 1915). Scriabin’s early works are Chopinesque but quirky, and this lovely piece is a good example. Its melody skips rather wide intervals and the harmony makes unusual shifts. The postlude is something I wrote for use while the organ was disassembled but didn’t get completed quite in time! It makes heavy use of 5/8 meter, which gives a syncopated feel. – David Boelzner

Sep. 7, 2014: Guest Musicians

This morning, we are fortunate to have two of Richmond’s most accomplished performers contributing to our worship. Pete Pettit is a freelance trombonist who teaches and performs in the Richmond area as a soloist as well as with many Richmond area large ensembles. Karine Eva performs with Richmond’s Capitol Opera, where she serves as a Member of the Board. She is also an active recitalist, concert singer, and film and voice over actress. Special thanks to Pete, for selecting the music, and to Ann Boelzner, for accompanying our musicians.

Sep. 7, 2014

The offertory presentation is “Dovunque il guardo giro” (“Wherever I look around”), a duet for soprano and alto trombone from a Passion written by Antonio Caldara (d. 1736), little known today but highly respected in the late Baroque era, his music known and studied by such as J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, even Brahms. Caldara worked in Vienna from 1716 on, and trombones were commonly used in oratorios and other works there. Here it dialogues with and ornaments the vocal line. The recessional is by North Carolina composer and organist David German (1954- ) and was written for his wife in honor of their wedding. – DB

Aug. 31, 2014

Pete Mathis: How many people do you know who toured with their own rock band (the Gib Droll Band), have an advanced performance degree in harpsichord, and are equally at home playing jazz, Bach, and their own compositions? These are just some of the skills that Pete displays in his professional life and shares with us, his parish family. This morning, as he has done frequently in the past, he steps in for Ann Boelzner, who is on vacation. How fortunate we are to have his rare combination of gifts and skills, always offered to the glory of God. Thank you, Pete! RW

Aug. 24, 2014, Blue Grass Sunday

We continue Good Shepherd’s annual late-summer tradition of Bluegrass Sunday this morning with several bluegrass and gospel songs, including new arrangements by Rick Curtis of “What a Day That Will Be” combined with “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” as the prelude and “All Day Long” combined with “When the Saints Go Marching In,” as the postlude. The offertory, “To Be Redeemed,” was written by Jane Bowers and recorded in 1963 by the Kingston Trio. The service music includes my arrangements of the Gloria, the Doxology, the Sanctus and the Fraction Anthem; I based the Sanctus on Pete Seeger’s song, ” the Bells of Rhymney,” and Psalm 124 on Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” The gospel hymn, “The Rising Dawn,” is my musical adaptation of Job 38:12, inspired by my friends Roland and Linda Beard of Christworks Ministries in Crozet, Virginia. The music this morning includes elements of folk, folk-rock, country, bluegrass, and gospel styles, and is intended “to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” — Dick Hickman

Aug. 17, 2014

For prelude and offertory, Francile Bilyeu and Ann Boelzner will play movements from a Flute Sonata by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963).  Poulenc was once described as “half monk and half delinquent,” and it is an apt description of his music as well.  Much of it is light, witty, even mischievous, but with moments of great beauty and pathos.  The main theme of the Allegro (today’s prelude) displays this dichotomy: the opening flutter suggests something very light but it gives way immediately to sighing downward half-steps and overall the melody is quite haunting.  Poulenc, an able pianist as well as composer, played a series of concerts in the U.S., meeting among others the soprano Leontyne Price and composer Samuel Barber.  – D. Boelzner

Aug. 10, 2014

As the offertory this morning we’ll hear a reprise of Gabriel Fauré’s wonderful “Cantique de Jean Racine,” sung earlier in the year by the choir but now presented by a quartet of choir members.  The same four parts are present as in the choir version; the texture is thinner, losing the fullness of the choral sound, but in exchange there is a clearer perception of the individual voice lines as they weave in and out, and the climactic sections are quite effective.  – D. Boelzner