Jennifer Lester brings out the best in the Seraphim Singers with her assured and sensitive conducting of Mirabile Mysterium in this live performance from November, 2018.
Conductor Jennifer Lester and the Seraphim Singers delivered two beautiful performances of Mirabile Mysterium this past weekend. The reviews of their performances were deservingly full of praise for the performers. Anne Davenport’s review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer can be found here; Aaron Keebaugh’s review for the Boston Classical Review can be found here.
The Seraphim Singers have programmed my 2012 setting of Mirabile Mysterium on their Divine Encounters program. The concert will be presented twice: Saturday, November 3, 2018, 8pm at at Eliot Church in Newton, MA; and Sunday, November 4, 2018, 3pm at First Church in Cambridge, MA. The program includes works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Ferko, and Christina Whitten Thomas. For ticket information, visit the Seraphim Singers website.
Sunday, February 11 at 11:00 a.m., the King's Chapel Choir, under the direction of Heinrich Christensen, will premiere my setting of "Set Me as a Seal" for SATB choir unaccompanied. Composed in celebration of the marriage of Leigh Royden and John Diniz, it will be performed as part of the King's Chapel Sunday workshop service.
After a nearly year-long collaboration working with the gifted organist Christian Lane, we are one week away from the world premiere of Concordia Salus: A Fantasy for Organ. Chris and I made a whirlwind trip from Boston to Montréal and back last weekend to set registrations and to make a recording on the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique at Maison Symphonique.
Chris Lane's will play one half of a concert that also features Jean-Willy Kunz, resident organist at Maison Symphonique. Jean-Willy will perform with a jazz quintet as a featured as part of the Montréal Jazz Festival. This is a unqiue program that combines music associated with both the jazz and organ festivals--the first ever concert program fusing the music of these two festivals.
Scores for Concordia Salus are now available through Subito Music Distribution.
Back in December 2016, Chris Lane and I met at Old West Church in Boston to discuss how the Montréal Organ Festival commission was progressing. This interview footage was captured during that meeting. Special thanks goes to Wade Roush for both his interview and video skills.
This short interview with Christian Lane was recorded on Friday, August 5, 2016 at Maison Symphonique in Montréal. Chris discusses the process of organist-composer collaboration.
Last week, organist Christian Lane and I made a pilgrimage to Montréal’s Maison Symphonique to explore the color possibilities of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique. Chris has performed on the instrument several times before, so he was an excellent guide to the organ as he played through some very rough initial sketches for the Montréal Organ Festival commission.
The instrument is extraordinary and does many things that most organs can’t do: sostenuto options that free up the hands, keyboards couplings that permit staccato articulations on one set of pipes while playing legato on another, etc. The Chamades division is quite impressive—it can create a crescendo by slowly floating the pipes (while sounding) out of the organ case by means of a dedicated motorized mechanism. Aside from these more unusual features, the main instrument itself is warm and full of beautiful sound color options. And then there is that hall—modern and bright, and acoustically pleasing and reverberant without a hint of muddiness.
The trip was, for me at least, a huge success. Chris is a trouper—very helpful (and patient). He was willing to experiment with the same passage multiple times with varied registrations in the service of teaching me what that organ can do.
As an added bonus, I had the opportunity to meet several key people who are instrumental in organizing the Festival, including Thomas Leslie, Adrian Foster, and Frederick Frances. Everyone was so gracious and welcoming with that I felt right at home and well cared for—quite a treat. A special thank you goes to Jean-Willy Kunz, organist for the Maison Symphonique, for his willingness to grant us access to the hall and the amazing instrument.
I am excited to announce a new commission to write a concert organ work for the 2017 Montréal Organ Festival, to be premiered by American organist and educator Christian Lane. The festival, which is a collaboration between the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) and the Northeast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), will feature performances and workshops throughout the city showcasing many of Canada’s finest instruments. The new work will premiere at Montreal’s Maison Symphonique, a state of the art concert hall that is home to a Casavant Frères organ inaugurated in 2014. The 83 stop, 116 rank instrument offers an enormous range of exciting color possibilities.
I’ll be heading up to Montréal with the organist in early August to get an introduction to the instrument. It is a great pleasure to work collaboratively with this fine musician, and Chris is proving to be a great help in the development of the new piece—I couldn’t have asked for more. I’ll post again in the coming months to document the progress on this commission.
Faced with an embarrassment of riches, I'm excited for the upcoming collaborations with Heinrich Christensen. First, Heinrich conducts the King's Chapel Choir on Sunday, January 24 at 5:00p.m. in the world premiere of "Gems and Tempests," songs for soloists and chorus that marke the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (see http://www.kings-chapel.org/concert-series.html for details). Then as organist, Heinrich will present a pair of recitals featuring my works and those of composer Robert Sirota, in Boston at St. Cecilia's Parish on Friday, January 29 at 8:00 p.m., and in New York at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on Sunday, February 7 at 5:00 p.m. (see previous post for a video that details the programs).