Advent Suite

As part of a series of articles on Charles Tournemire at www.organimprovisation.com, I set about to actually compose a suite modeled on L’orgue mystique. Tournemire did not write much music for Advent, so I decided to use familiar melodies from that season as themes for each movement. Three of the … Continue reading

Westminster Relocation

Dear President Dell’Ormo: This month twenty-seven years ago, I received my acceptance letter to Westminster Choir College. After receiving my admissions offer, I completed no other undergraduate school applications. Westminster offered unique opportunities in choral and organ music that were unmatched by any other school. Before enrolling at Westminster, I … Continue reading

Hymn Tune Psalms

One of the challenges in the Roman Catholic Church is trying to find ways to encourage and enable the congregation to sing. Unless you use a seasonal psalm refrain, this generally means the congregation has a new melody to learn every week with the responsorial psalm. Sure, you can build up a repertoire over time, but there’s not a lot of repetition in the three-year lectionary cycle. One of the easiest ways to learn a piece is through repetition, so I decided to use hymn tunes as melodies for the psalms. This reinforces the singing of the hymns and gives something familiar to the people for the psalm. I created numerous of these settings while at the Cathedral in Albany and now am in the process of revising them (and perhaps finishing the set) to go with the new Revised Grail Psalms. We used the first of these new revised hymn tune psalms at Mass this weekend for Advent 2.
Psalm 72 – Justice Shall Flourish
Refrain based on EIN FESTE BURG with Gelineau-style tone by Wm. Glenn Osborne

Music Requires Participation

A brief recruitment message given over the weekend at Mass demonstrating that making music is dependent upon people. I would love to have more people participate in music at the Cathedral. Visit http://www.cathedralofmary.org/music-ministry/ for more information about music at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Psalms for Jazz Vespers

Jazz and Roman Catholic are two worlds that don’t meet up very often. Jazz has been used in other worship traditions, but the liturgical structure of Roman Catholic worship provides challenges for the free improvisatory nature of jazz. Yes, there are Jazz Masses that have been composed, but even most … Continue reading

Psalm 17

When I composed the Audubon Park Psalter, my intention was that most all of the settings would be flexible enough to work in a traditional setting with organ and choir as well as a more contemporary setting with piano and guitar. While I have attempted to make recordings of the … Continue reading

Vierne for Improvistion

My last lesson for www.organimprovisation.com featured instructions on transposition and suggested using a piece by Louis Vierne as the transposition exercise and a model for improvising. The piece is a relatively simple piece from the 24 Pièces en style libre: 1. Préambule.

As transposition practice, I played it in C# major, D Major, Eb Major, and started it in several other keys.

After that, I followed the score as a model and improvised some imitation Vierne in F Major and in G minor. There are some hesitations as I searched for similar interesting tonal gestures without following exactly what Vierne did, but that’s why we practice. I decided to make this exercise my prelude this weekend, so there are two more that follow the score less slavishly in A minor and D minor as well.