Written for SATB Choir, unaccompanied, this piece is a setting of and Advent text by John Dalles based upon Mark 13:33-37. It will be premiered during the season of Advent by the Basilica Choir under the direction of William Picher. Scores will be available for purchase after the premier.
The Audubon Park Psalter consists of five volumes: one for each of the liturgical years (A, B, and C), a fourth for Solemnities, Feasts and other holidays and a shorter fifth volume containing palms for weddings and funerals. It uses the new Revised Grail Psalm translation for the verses with the ICEL refrains. Each liturgical year volume is 60-70 pages and contain over 50 psalm settings.
After several years of leading very eclectic music programs, I felt the need for a psalter that would raise the standard of music available and that could be adapted to many different settings. The Audubon Park Psalter is designed to be flexible instrumentally and vocally. The verses are written most often in a one pulse per measure chant style (like Gelineau) so that a consistent tempo may be kept between the refrain and the verses. Having chant style verses makes the singer’s task of learning multiple verses easier than a through-composed setting, but by keeping a pulse, it is possible to have much more interesting melodies than a common 3-5 note chant settings would offer.
Because the verses are most often written in traditional four-part harmony, a choir could sing the text or accompany the cantor by singing on a neutral syllable. A string quartet or woodwind ensemble could also read the vocal lines for additional accompaniment colors. Because of the consistent rhythm, a skilled ensemble of piano, guitar and drums, could take many of these settings into different jazz or contemporary styles. Written with a harmonic language that is interesting, yet accessible, these settings are designed to be singable, playable and achievable for most any parish music program. Check out the playlist of recordings from live performances of the psalter.
TIFF and JPG files of the refrains are available for download. You may search by occasion or first line:
Today I received official approval from the Committee on Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to publish my settings of the Revised Grail Psalter with the ICEL refrains. The Audubon Park Psalter will consist of four volumes: one for each of the liturgical years (A, B, and C) and a fourth for Solemnities, Feasts and other holidays. Each volume will be 60-70 pages and contain over 50 psalm settings.
After several years of leading very eclectic music programs, I felt the need for a psalter that could be adapted to many different settings. The Audubon Park Psalter is designed to be useable in the traditional organ and cantor setting, but also by the contemporary ensemble with piano, guitars, and even drums. Any attempts to find repertoire common to both groups, would usually lead to complaints from one or the other, so when creating these new settings, I endeavored to use a harmonic language that will be interesting to the highly trained musicians and yet accessible to those with less formation.
The verses are written most often in a one pulse per measure chant style (like Gelineau) so that a drummer could play continuously through the psalm (instead of dropping out for non-metrical chanted verses). The verses are also written in traditional four-part harmony so that a choir could sing them (if desired). Having chant style verses makes the singer’s task of learning multiple verses easier than a through-composed setting, but by keeping a pulse, it is possible to have much more interesting melodies than a common 3-5 note chant settings would offer. These settings are designed to be singable, interesting and achievable for most any parish music program.
Look for more information to come as I finalize the drafts for publication.
10/22 – NOW AVAILABLE HERE
Written May 11-2, 2014 for Chris Barletta and the Women’s Choir of Gateway High School in Kissimmee, Florida, with the first performance given at the Baccalaureate Mass at the end of May 2014. The text is by John Dalles and is included in the collection We Turn to God published by Wayne Leupold Editions.
The piece is scored for SSA with piano accompaniment. It is fairly easy and very tonal. Expected duration: c. 2’30”
Last Thursday, it was my pleasure to attend the festival choral Eucharist at St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park where the St. Richard’s Schola under the direction of Dr. Carl MaultsBy gave the premier performance of my composition God Is Gone Up. I was very fortunate to be accompanied by a classmate from Westminster Choir College who blogs about her church visits. You can read her write up about the experience at Some Disagree with Mom. As it seems few churches actually celebrate on Ascension on Thursday in this area, there were several other musicians in attendance, and probably the best compliment I received was when one of the other musicians made a request to purchase copies of the score after the service was over! I want to express my gratitude to Carl for requesting this piece and giving me the opportunity to add another useful composition to my output.
Premiers and Classical
Both the Bel Canto Choir of Gateway High School and the Holy Redeemer School Choir did admirably with the other premier performances last week. I am sad that I was not able to capture audio for the performance of God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons, but hopefully I will be able to post audio or video for the other two pieces sometime soon.
After a three premiers last week, this week ushers in a return of my accompanying and directing responsibilities with the kick off to the summer season of the CFCArts Classical Choir. We are still looking for singers for the Mass in C Minor (K. 427) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings with one concert performance on Friday, August 8, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winter Park, FL. If you are in the area, I encourage you to come and join the group!
In addition to creating music for people such as the premiers or with people like the Classical Choir, I have been fascinated by the skills necessary to create music on the spot, especially at the organ. For that reason, I started a website a few months ago organimprovisation.com. I am pleased to announce that the site has been greatly expanded and that there is now a lesson handout on how to improvise a French toccata available when you sign up to receive the newsletter. I also just completed a newsletter series on the Four C’s of Improvisation that include a few helpful hints on becoming a better improviser. Even if you believe learning to improvise might be out of your reach, you could check out all the videos or recordings for some inspiration. I believe every musician should be able to improvise and can learn to do so if willing to practice.
One of the events I always look forward to attending is the AGO national convention. This year it will take place in Boston, one of my favorite cities. While there are many different events to attend, you can be sure to find me at the events where improvisation will be the focus. I compiled a list of them here if you will be at the convention and wish to find me.
This year will be the first year that I attend the conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. Last summer, I was able to attend the RSCM Course in Tulsa, so I am looking forward to attending a conference with more people who run RSCM programs. As an extra bonus, I’ll get to stop by New York City in between the two conferences and play for the Orlando Deanery Choir at St. Thomas. While I would not normally be excited about two weeks on the road, the music making and chance to see many friends make me look forward to this extended trip. If you will be at either of these conferences, I hope we can find each other and at least say hello!
Hoping you have a fun and adventuresome summer!
Newsletter Issue 23 – 2014 06 02
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The Chariot Rolls On
What a delight it was Monday evening to hear the Bel Canto Choir from Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta give the premier performance of my composition, The Chariot. Knowing that the students had only a few rehearsals to learn the piece, I was quite pleased with the result. Check it out for yourself by clicking the picture below!
Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit
At the conclusion of the piece as I was walking off stage, I told Chris that I’d have another piece for the group to learn for the Gateway High School Baccalaureate. By the end of the week, I had sent him a score for a new text by John Dalles, “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons.” Unfortunately, it seems I took the text’s references to “a bold challenge we can claim…at the edge of what can be” a little too seriously and wrote a piece just out of reach for the number of rehearsal left. So I found another text (also by John Dalles) and produced something a little easier: “Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit.” I went over to rehearse the choir last Friday and am now looking to the premier of this piece at the Gateway Baccalaureate on May 25.
Finishing a Piece
So what happens with “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons”? The piece is written. Will it sit in a drawer until next year? Any one else interested in giving it a go? I love the text so much that I decided to program the piece with the school choir from Holy Redeemer for the eighth grade Graduation Mass. We won’t be able to sing all the harmony parts, but the melody alone (with piano accompaniment) will still provide a lovely rendition of this end of school year text. I may not have mentioned it in last week’s discussion of the 5 Ws, but it’s very difficult for me to write a piece of music if there is no ‘When’ on the calendar. Also, when the piece requires more than just one person to perform it, I never feel like it is truly finished until I’ve handed the score over to someone else to perform. This is when I realize what part of the music doesn’t exist on paper, and what I still need to write down. Even this scaled down performance with the school choir from Holy Redeemer will give me that opportunity I need to experience the piece and satisfies that “W’ that went missing on me.
40 Days After…
Sandwiched in between the graduation pieces above happens to fall the Feast of Ascension (40 days after Easter) and the premier of “God Is Gone Up” written for Dr. Carl MaultsBy and the St. Richard’s Schola. This is the second piece I’ve written for St. Richard’s and will make three premiers in one week! What an exciting way to bring the month of May to a close!
With all this talk about the end of the school year, it must mean that summer is almost here. For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of accompanying the CFCArts Classical Choir in their summer concerts. This summer, I will be playing for the group rehearsals and concert as they prepare the Mass in C Minor (K. 427) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you are in the Orlando area, I encourage you to sign up and join the group. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings starting June 5. I was able to perform this work with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Robert Shaw while I studied at Westminster Choir College, so I am looking forward to doing the piece again now almost twenty years later.
Wishing you a happy and safe Memorial Day and a beautiful start to your summer!
Newsletter Issue 22 – 2014 05 20
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Originally written for the Diocesan Youth Choir formed to sing for the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, NY in 2005, This setting of Delores Dufner’s text “A Year of God’s Favor” is scored for SAB choir, piano and optional flute, oboe and violoncello. The audio below was generated by the Finale music notation program.
Written May 9-10, 2014 for the Bel Canto Choir of Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta. The text is by John Dalles. Music is scored for three part women’s choir with piano accompaniment. It was one of two pieces written for use at the Baccalaureate service at the end of the school year. The piece celebrates the success of graduation while looking forward to all the possibilities and challenges of the future. It will be premiered (in unison) at the Graduation Mass for Holy Redeemer Catholic School.
For Good Shepherd Sunday this year, I had programmed an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “Schafe können sicher weiden” from Cantata 208 with an English text. At each of the choir rehearsals I had however, I became more and more frustrated with the part writing and the irregularity of the text. Finally, in a fit of frustration, I decided I would make my own arrangement and fix both the voice leading and text problems. While I considered trying for a translation of the original German, I opted instead to paraphrase Psalm 23. This is an easy anthem for the choir as they sing a simple four part harmonization of the chorale melody supported at all times by keyboard accompaniment. The piece could also be performed by a unison choir singing the soprano melody.
A performance by the Choir of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen can be seen here.