Musings from the Artistic Director

SMCC Cameo: “A Mighty Fortress: Music of the Reformation”

Rehearsals for our end-of-October, 500th Anniversary of the Reformation concert are going extremely well, and the cameo group of 16 is sounding fantastic.  I sometimes liken conducting St. Martin’s Chamber Choir to driving a high performance luxury car (not that I’ve ever done that, but I can imagine what it’s like) – a highly responsive, feeling-one-with-the-road, sumptuous, guilty pleasure.  I’m sometimes convinced that, though I’ve rather successfully done it for 23 seasons now, I am actually not qualified to be leading these fine professionals; but, since they continue to allow me to do it, I may as well continue to take advantage of it!  😉

Anyway, that was an aside.  Here’s the program – a sort of cornucopia of musical treats, both sweet and savory:

A Mighty Fortress: Music of the Reformation

Founders

  • Motet: Non moriar
    Martin Luther (1484-1546)
  • Chorale: Jesus Christus unser Heyland
  • Motet: Allein auf Gottes Wort
    Johann Walther (1496-1570)

First Successors

  • Chorale: Jesu, dein Seel’ lass heilg’n mich
    Melchior Franck (1573-1639)
  • Motet: Wenn der Herr die Gefangenen
    Heinrich Hartmann (1580-1616)

Seventeenth Century

  • Chorale: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele
    Johann Crüger (1598-1662)
  • Motet: Verleih uns Frieden
    Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

Eighteenth Century

  • Chorale: Wer sich ein Vat’r erbarmet
    Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
    [excerpt from Motet I: Singet dem Herrn]
  • Motet: Jauchzet dem Herrn [excerpt]
    Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785)

Nineteenth Century

  • Chorale: Nun danket alle Gott
    Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
    [fr. Symphony No. 2, “Lobgesang”]
  • Motet: Richte mich Gott                                    “

Comparison of Two Settings of the same text

  • Motet: Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit
    Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759)
  • Motet: Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit
    Hugo Distler (1908-1942)

Epilogue: Audience Sing-Along

  • Chorale: A Mighty Fortress is our God
    tune: Martin Luther; harmonization: J. S. Bach

The Chorale and the Lutheran Motet are Lutheranism’s greatest gifts to the musical world, so I alternate between them as we work our way forward in time.  From Martin Luther himself, who was a musician and wrote many of the tunes and lyrics of the first Chorales, through Crüger, Schütz, Bach, and Mendelssohn (along with fabulous lesser lights like Hartmann and Homilius), I trace the annals of Lutheran music-making over the last 500 years.  Each piece is literally a guilty pleasure to sing and conduct; and I had a difficult time deciding which pieces I would allow Michael Johnson, the conducting intern, to conduct, as I didn’t want to give any of them up!

Here are the concert dates and venues:

  • Friday, Oct. 27, 7:30pm, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St., Denver
  • Saturday, Oct. 28, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2015 Glenarm Place, Denver
  • Sunday, Oct. 29, 3:00pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4500 Wadsworth Blvd., Wheat Ridge

Come to one of the early performances, because I predict a goodly number of you will enjoy it so much you’ll want to return on a subsequent night to hear it all again in a different acoustic!

Purchase tickets in advance at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org/concerts, or call the office directly for assistance at (303) 298-1970.  You won’t want to miss these concerts!