Last night, I went to the first of the two-concert series, Echoes and Refrains, and of course, I recognized a lot of people from my life before—when I was the organist at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu for 35 years. Of course, I go to the church four days a week to teach organ lessons so the building and organ are no stranger to me, but of course I don’t see all the parishioners like I used to.
The concert began and ended with the choir divided in half on opposite sides of the church. The opening piece was W. B. Olds’ arrangement of Martin Luther’s A mighty fortress is our God and the concert ended with Heinrich Schütz’ Alleluja, lobet den Herren. Both pieces had that “ear candy” appeal, with many antiphonal and echo effects, both with solos and ensemble. Accompanied by the mellow sound of the cornetto and sackbut ensemble on one side of the church, playing off the string ensemble on the other end, the two choirs filled the room with warmth, one beautiful chord after another.
The rest of the concert featured smaller groups of instruments with vocal duets, plus Bach Cantata 38 Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir. I was asked whether the choir had ever performed this before, and my answer was “I’ll have to look it up!” After getting home and consulting Carl Crosier’s detailed spreadsheet of the major choral works performed with their corresponding date, I can say with authority, “Yes, it was done on March 7, 2010!”
I think I especially enjoyed the duet pieces: Heinrich Schütz’ “Domine, labia mea aperies” with Karol Nowicki and Naomi Castro; and Johann Hermann Schein’s “Mach dich auf, werde licht, Zion” with soloists Georgine Stark and Eric Neuville.
By the way, for those of you who were not at the concert, you can view the program here. (Yes, quite a number of people complimented me on the layout of the program, and my response was “Yikes! I found two typos!”)
Tomorrow night’s Bach Cantata 80 Ein feste Burg was performed five times before: on October 13, 1984; October 28, 1984; October 26, 1986; October 15, 2000; and October 29, 2000. Hmmm, do you see a pattern here? All performances in October, of course, in celebration of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s most famous hymn.
After intermission, Linda Pearse, director of the visiting early brass ensemble, ¡Sacabuche!, welcomed the audience back to the second half, and rightly credited director Scott Fikse for doing the lion’s share of the work to pull these concerts together.
Hearing all this antiphonal music reminded me so much of our 2007 visit to the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, where Heinrich Schütz was the church musician for 55 years.
Three years after that visit, I wrote this:
Carl and I visited the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, where Schütz was a church musician for 55 years. We marveled at the wonderful acoustical space with its many galleries, and could easily imagine why Schütz composed music for multiple choirs, located all over the building.
At intermission, a number of people came up to me to tell me they read this blog. Why, thank you! I have to admit, however, that I am presently involved in a HUGE non-musical project which is consuming most of my waking hours. When I’m not teaching organ, I’m absolutely glued to my computer, 8-10 hours a day, working on the 50th Class Reunion blog and website for my alma mater, Burbank High School. We sent out a “Save the Date” notice last week to my graduating class which had over 600 alumni, and I’ve been answering about 30-40 emails per day. When someone emails an RSVP, I scan their picture from the yearbook, in addition to engaging with many of them to write up “their story” for the blog. In case you’re interested to see what I’ve been up to, check out this link: burbankhigh1968.net. I have written 9 posts just in the last week for this blog! Egad!