yesterday’s music performance at church

Yesterday at church went very well musically.

Most of my choir came early so we could get started on our three pieces we needed to work on: “Beati” from the Taizé community, “Requiem” by Puccini and the complicated arrangement of the opening hymn, “For All the Saints” (choir only on 2 & 5, high voices on 6 and low on 7).

We rehearsed them in that order in the pregame.

I was especially happy with the performance of the Puccini. I developed a solid interpretation that involved lots of “La Boheme” like rubato. The choir seemed to favor the “pure vowells” I have been trying to teach them to produce for a few years. I thought it was a respectable rendition by a shrinking volunteer church choir. 

I improvised the introduction, interludes and much of the accompaniment to “For All the Saints.” Leo Sowerby has written a chorale prelude on this tune which cleverly emphasizes Vaughan Williams’s walking bass. I stole the idea from him and used it in my intro and some of the interludes. For once I was pretty satisfied with my improvisations. 

The “Beati” came off okay. It was probably our shakiest choral number but still it pulled together pretty accurately and the cong kept their little mantra going admirably. The best part of this was the silence before and after it. I mentioned this silence to the cong in my pregame congregational rehearsal. I do like silence in prayer.

We sang “Wade in the Water” as an a cappella baptismal hymn.  In retrospect, I maybe could have done more to make this sound a bit better with accompaniment or rehearsal with the choir. But you can’t do everything I guess. I do vary how I do my accompaniments and favor attempting a cappella when appropriate. I do think it’s almost always an option on the African American Spirituals (or sorrow songs as they are sometimes called). 

My postlude was a hoary old organ piece called “Grand Choeur” by Dubois. I don’t really have enough organ to register something like this, but it seemed called for so I did it. I played it pretty well. 

There was a newcomers’ brunch after service that I skipped. Eileen came back with me for the scheduled funeral. I performed Mozart piano sonatas as a prelude. This is something I do. I think Mozart’s joie de vivre tells us something about life and death. Just my opinion, but it seems to work. I repeated the morning prelude by Guillmant as communion music for the funeral. At the end, I try to do something a bit more uplifting for mourners as they leave. Yesterday I did an organ improv on the American tune, “Come away to the skies.” It seemed to work.

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