Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

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  

Aug. 3, 2014

Tunes often create a sense of going somewhere and returning. The opening hymn, no. 48, illustrates a common pattern, with lines 1, 2 and 4 being nearly identical, with a “break” strain in the middle. The closing hymn, 522, mostly follows the pattern, but its final phrase is quite different, and the reason is mostly harmonic. Phrases 1 and 2 in no. 48 end on the key note, the tonic, so each phrase ends with harmonic repose, which also works for the ending. But in 522, phrases 1 and 2 each end on the “dominant” note, i.e. the one most strongly requiring resolution to the tonic, which creates a sense of suspense, not what Herr Haydn wanted for the final note. – D. Boelzner