The Baltimore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is offering a workshop on improvisation on Saturday, October 14 from 9:30am to 12noon at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Glenn Osborne will coach volunteers in improvising interludes and extensions for those times in worship that a piece needs to be stretched to cover the liturgical action. He will also offer tools and ideas for improvising pieces for prelude, postlude, or other moments during a service. All level of improvisers are welcome.
The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen hosts 10 high school graduations every year in addition to having our own Cathedral School 8th grade ceremony. While not all of the schools use the popular piece by Elgar, enough of them do that I’ve had to find ways to amuse myself while playing these short 32 measures over and over again. The longest procession for 270+ graduates takes 23-25 minutes! After my first rehearsal, I knew I would need to work out some pistons for different registrations, and I also thought about how to create other variations to keep my mind occupied.
The piece basically has a melody, chords, and a bass line. I have a right hand, left hand, and feet. Through the rehearsals and graduations, I have managed to become skilled enough to play any of the parts of the piece with any of my appendages. Thus you get the following video presenting the options:
Not a perfect rendition, but an exploration of the variety of ways I keep myself entertained when I have 10 graduations to play for each spring. First six presentations in order are:
1)RH tune; LH chords; Ped bass
2)LH tune; RH chords; Ped bass
3) Ped tune; LH Bass; RH chords
4) Ped tune; RH bass; LH chords
5) LH tune; RH bass; Ped chords
6) RH tune; LH bass; Ped chords
It’s not perfect and the solo trumpet is at the other end of the building, but I thought it might be entertaining for you to see how I entertain myself during this season of graduations.
The service, reminiscent of its English heritage, is sung in a candlelight setting by the Cathedral Choir. Traditional Carols and anthems celebrating the joy of the Christmas season will be offered. Wm. Glenn Osborne will serve as director and organist for the celebration. In addition to traditional carols arranged by David Willcocks and John Rutter, the program includes Babe of Bethlehem and God, We Would Hear the Angels Sing.
Free and open to the public.
Returning this year to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen is the 13th Annual Holiday Brass Concert. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the International Women’s Brass Conference. Included on the concert will be the premier performance of Here This Christmas Night. Scored for soprano, trumpet, and organ, the music was composed by Wm. Glenn Osborne for text by John Dalles.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 410 337-7539: Adults $26.00, Seniors/Students $23.00.
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.
Come celebrate and pray as the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen concludes the Homecoming weekend of celebrations for the Anniversary of Dedication with Jazz Vespers. The Kevin Myers Quartet will accompany the Cathedral Music Ministry in a celebration of Evening Prayer beginning at 5pm on Sunday, November 13, 2016. Wm. Glenn Osborne will preside for the celebration which will feature several of his compositions newly composed for the occasion.
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 Contemporary Group at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen before, because I have been the one at the piano, it has been difficult to capture anything remotely balanced. This week, I was able to be out in the congregation, so captured the psalm while standing next to a pillar. Here’s the resulting video:
What I really appreciate is being able to hear the people sing, even though this is a new piece for them.
I also captured the psalm at the 11:00 Mass with the choir and organ:
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.
The Old Testament reading for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C is the story of Jeremiah being thrown into a cistern where he is expected to sink into the mud and die. The Responsorial Psalm that follows is a set of verses from Psalm 40 with the refrain, “Lord, come to my aid.” When I first encountered this set of readings back in 1995, the most obvious musical idea was to make it a 12-bar blues. It was a little bit of a stretch to get the verses and refrain to line up consistently, but perhaps more of a stretch to do the premier on a little two-manual German baroque style organ!
As the setting only appears once every three years, I don’t really know how often or where I’ve been able to do it since then. Many times, this pushes the envelope of what is accepted or expected for music in the churches I have served. There is a contemporary group at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, and I’ve heard some requests for some more modern music, so I put it on the schedule this year. Here’s the video from the 9:30 am Mass on 14 August 2016:
A child decided it was time to play with the kneelers during verse three. It would have been great to have some well-timed percussion, but sometimes you just take what you get.
Note: This is not included in the Audubon Park Psalter, though it could show up in a later volume of more contemporary/gospel/jazz psalm settings.
Organists always love to make lots of sound. Improvisers typically use both hands and feet to play almost all the time while improvising. This weekend, I thought I’d do something a little different and play only one note at a time during the offertory.
Saturday evening, I improvised a slow monody thinking perhaps of a solo cello piece:
Sunday, I decided to aim at something a little more sparkly and bright:
Do you have the courage to improvise only a single melodic line?