Sunday’s Gospel reading features the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. This theme is reflected upon further in our choir anthem, The Souls of the Righteous, by Mark Schweizer (b. 1956). The piece begins with an almost eerie Latin chant and then gives way to some really expressive choral writing that sets the English translation. At the end, the original chant comes back in canon and fades into the distance. The whole experience is like opening and closing a door to the afterlife – we are left musically where we were at the beginning of the piece, but yet everything has changed. The lyrics are from the Book of Wisdom.
“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and the torment of death shall not touch them
for they are in peace.”
During Communion, I will play an instrumental setting of Wondrous Love by Rebecca Groom te Velde. One of the most fun things to do as a composer is to take pre-existing material and redesign it into something new and fresh. In this case, Groom te Velde has taken the melody of What wondrous love is this and changed the notes and rhythms around to make what she describes as a “contemplation.” As part of our 2016-2017 Music Season spotlight on living composers, please take a look at her biography printed below.
“Rebecca Groom te Velde (b. 1956) is a third-generation professional organist, following both parents and her grandfather. She graduated summa cum laude from Seattle Pacific University where she studied organ and composition with her father, Lester H. Groom. In 1982, she received the M.Mus in organ literature and performance from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, having studied organ with Hugh McLean and composition with Jack Behrens. The Region VIII winner of the AGO National Playing Competition in 1979, she competed at the national level in Minneapolis in 1980. Also in 1980, she was selected to participate in the Flor Peeters International Master class at Mechelen, Belgium. For the academic year 1980-81 she received a full grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to study with Michael Schneider at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany. During that year, she researched her master’s thesis on the ornamentation in J.S. Bach’s Eighteen Chorales. In 1989 she was certified as an Associate of the American Guild of Organists (AAGO). She has performed in numerous states as well as in Germany, England and Canada, and has published articles with The Musical Times and The American Organist. In 1991 she assumed her present position as organist of First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. She is an active performer, composer, clinician, and adjunct instructor of music at Oklahoma State University. She currently serves as Dean of the Cimarron Chapter of the AGO. She and husband John, associate professor of German at OSU, have two children.”
This coming Wednesday at noon, we will have our final Lenten concert of the season. This week features a remarkable bassoonist, Abigail Walker, and some special guests. The music we will be playing is very diverse and interesting – you won’t want to miss it!