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Thread: Easter Organ Music Plan

  1. #1
    pp Pianissimo rmdostie's Avatar
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    Easter Organ Music Plan

    Prelude: Herbert Howells, "Siciliano for a High Ceremony"
    Postlude: Alec Rowley. "Triumph Song (Alleluia)"

    For the Offertory, I have to accompany two amateur trumpeters in Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Not my choice - pastoral considerations control talent-show aspects of certain big days. Trumpets will also execute (good word) certain hymns.

    Rick Dostie
    Resurrection Lutheran Church
    Waterville, ME USA

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    ppp Pianississmo Schnarrwerk's Avatar
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by rmdostie View Post
    . . . talent-show aspects of certain big days. . . .
    Boy, if that isn't the truth. I finally quit playing rather demanding pieces on "big days" because there simply isn't time to run through my own stuff before the service because of all the other folks clamoring for rehearsal time.

  3. #3
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    "Execute" some hymns -- now that's funny! I have no doubt that it happens all the time though, to some good hymns too.

    Sort of a shame, that the holiest Sunday of the year has to be a spectacle, but that's probably the case in a great many, if not most churches of every denomination. But to the extent that the service is genuinely elevated and grand, I enjoy the spectacle. Beginning the service by removing the shrouds that were put in place Thursday night, dropping the curtain from the window, lighting the candles, bringing in the Bible and cross with great flourish -- that's all "good" spectacle. But foisting amateur musicians upon us all for the sake of show is not.

    OTOH, it may be a day when you can't completely rely on your regular musicians. As choir director, I've had to face the fact that we have some members who won't be in the choir on Easter. Some go to visit family or attend church with their aging parents or whatever, and some will have guests with them and they want to sit with their guests and not in the choir. So the choir's anthem has to be something simple and familiar that we can do with less than full forces. Having something a little "special" and unusual can help keep the music from being rather bland.

    Not being a highly-trained organist, I can't present an elaborate organ number because I really don't have the skill. So I'm delighted to share the duties of providing incidental music with other talented instrumentalists, such as the amazing flutist who is also one of our most faithful choir members. But I have been in situations when there was a rank amateur in the church who wanted to showcase his/her questionable talents on Easter and other high days. Such folks have to be handled with extreme care, particularly if you're dealing with a prominent church member or the child of one. I like to take the opportunity to educate such folks on the extreme responsibility the musicians bear on Easter, and to remind them tactfully that the center of attention is to be the risen Christ, not the talented kiddo whose grandparents are in town for the weekend.

    I only wish that we could do something "spectacular" enough on Easter to impress the folks who don't come to church any other time so that they would be moved to come all the time. Alas, our best efforts in that direction don't seem to be working.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers 580 "Cheetah" organ with custom 6-channel speaker system
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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    pp Pianissimo rmdostie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbird604 View Post
    I only wish that we could do something "spectacular" enough on Easter to impress the folks who don't come to church any other time so that they would be moved to come all the time. Alas, our best efforts in that direction don't seem to be working.
    My Howells prelude wasn't heard very well through all the "fellowshipping" racket, which is unfortunate because it's a great piece. Actually the thing that a number of people found "spectacular" was my improvisation during communion distribution. It's something that I do quite often when the hymns don't cover all of the action, but this time around it was longer and more elaborate than normal because of the size of the crowd. I combined two hymn tunes - the opening Easter Hymn, 'Jesus Christ Is Ris'n Today' and the Howells hymn tune Michael which was the Hymn of the Day with the words 'All The Earth With Joy Is Sounding.' The improvisation started quietly, built to a medium-loud middle, and then subsided to a quiet ending, so it was something more than just noodling.

    Rick Dostie
    Resurrection Lutheran Church
    Waterville, ME USA

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    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmdostie View Post
    Actually the thing that a number of people found "spectacular" was my improvisation during communion distribution. It's something that I do quite often when the hymns don't cover all of the action, but this time around it was longer and more elaborate than normal because of the size of the crowd. I combined two hymn tunes - the opening Easter Hymn, 'Jesus Christ Is Ris'n Today' and the Howells hymn tune Michael which was the Hymn of the Day with the words 'All The Earth With Joy Is Sounding.' The improvisation started quietly, built to a medium-loud middle, and then subsided to a quiet ending, so it was something more than just noodling.

    Rick Dostie
    Resurrection Lutheran Church
    Waterville, ME USA
    Rick,

    That's an interesting observation, and probably is evidence that what most people most want to hear from us organists is not our complex and elaborate show pieces, but simple and moving improvs on tunes they know and recognize, with registration changes and special effects, solo passages, etc., that show off the varied colors of organ tone and shades of expression.

    Of course there are indeed real "organ music fans" out there in many congregations who will find our Bach or Buxtehude intensely exciting, but there are far more who will pass it off as just more high-brow music that means nothing to them. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ever use genuine organ music from the classical repertoire, but we certainly shouldn't ignore the more accessible hymn arrangements that "ring the chimes" for more people.

    The real challenge to me, with my limited skills and training, is to do my communion improvisations with dignity and grace while keeping them interesting but not flashy. It's not very often, but now and then someone will tell me that my communion music touched a heart-string, an association with some old hymn tune or gospel song taking the hearer back to a happy experience or spiritual mountain top.

    I really need to get serious about doing a better job with that part of the service, as that is the one and only time the organ is in fact the only sound in the sanctuary other than the footsteps of the people coming up for communion and the murmured "The Body of Christ broken for you" and "The Blood of Christ shed for you" as they receive. I owe it to the people to make that music meaningful, not so I'll get compliments, but just because it's an important part of my contribution to our corporate worship experience.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Rodgers 580 "Cheetah" organ with custom 6-channel speaker system
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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