This week at LCH we’re going all-American: the choir will be singing music by Randall Thompson (1899-1994) and I’ll be playing organ music by Gerald Near (b. 1942).
Most people associate Randall Thompson with his famous “Alleluia” — an unaccompanied anthem with only one word repeated over and over. Written in 1940, it was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky and was a reflection of the world at war. I think the LCH Choir is one of few choral ensembles who can sing this piece without dropping in pitch! But this is a topic for another post, because this week the choir will sing movements from Thompson’s “The Peaceable Kingdom”: VII. Have ye not known, VIII. Ye shall have a song, and V. The paper reeds by the brooks.
The Peaceable Kingdom was commissioned in 1936 by the League of Composers of the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society. The work was inspired by a painting of the same name, based on Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the wolf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”
Gerald Near is a graduate of the University of Michigan (my good friend, Barbara Adler knows him) and is a prolific composer of organ and choral music. He first studied composition at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago with Leo Sowerby. His works have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. I’ll be playing all three movements of his “Suite for Organ,” a piece I know very well since I performed it on my senior recital in college.
I have a feeling that it is mere coincidence that we programmed music by American composers on that most American of festivals: Super Bowl Sunday!