All posts by Courtney Huffman

Musings from the Artistic Director

Musical Weekly: Greensleeves was All my Joy: British Folksongs

I was very pleased with the reception of our concerts of Jewish Sacred Choral Music this last weekend.  Though the audience was small at St. Paul on Friday night, it was very appreciative.  The audience was quite large on Sunday afternoon at Temple Emanuel, and just as appreciative.  The choir sounded really good at both, and Richard Robertson played extremely well on some challenging literature.  The Friday night concert came in at 1’58”, so I made a few judicious cuts (eliminating repeats, extra verses, organ intros, etc.), and shortened my verbal remarks by about 20%, and thus managed to get it to 1’45” — perfect.

So what’s next up for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir?  We move from brave exploration to well-trodden pathways in presenting “Greensleeves was All my Joy”: British Folksongs.  St. Martin’s’ very first concert (called “Dreams all too brief” in October, 1993 — [I was in diapers]) was a program of British partsongs and folksong arrangements, and we’ve returned to it as frequently as any other body of works, so it is our “bread and butter” repertoire.  Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, George Dyson, Granville Bantock, Thomas Dunhill and many others, all based on (or redolent of) British folksongs.  It will be sung by a “cameo” group of 16 singers, and will be lush beauty from beginning to end.

  • Fri, April 24, 7:30pm – Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
  • Sat. Apr. 25, 7:30pm – St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
  • Sun. Apr. 26, 3:00pm – St. Paul Community of Faith, Denver

Reserve tickets in advance by clicking here; or by calling the SMCC office at (303) 298-1970.  Tickets also available at the door.

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Before the above concert of British folksong arrangements occurs, however, is St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s 26th Anniversary Gala, “Some of my Favorite Things,” on Friday, March 13, 6:30-9:00pm.  A scrumptious meal (several options, including vegan), two drink tickets, a concert by the choir of 5 pieces voted on by you last fall (Stanford, Duruflé, Palestrina, Pearsall, etc.), an 8-minute video of our history, some remarks by me, including some annual awards — all for the incredibly low price of $85 (tables in front are $100) — held in the beautiful Knoebel Events Center on the DU campus, 2044 East Evans Ave, Denver, 80208.  Our 25th Anniversary Gala was at first intended to be a one-off event; but everyone had such a fantastic time, and so many people said “You should do this every year!”, that we decided to do exactly that.

Reserve tickets by clicking here; or telephone the St. Martin’s office at (303) 298-1970.  See you there!!

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The Friends of Music at St. Andrew’s is hosting a concert by singer/songwriter Buddy Mondlock this coming Thursday evening at 7:30pm.  Buddy has written songs for the likes of Garth Brooks, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, among others; but he’s a troubadour himself, and there’s nothing quite like hearing a Buddy song sung by Buddy himself.  He attended services at St. Andrew’s a couple of weeks ago on his way through town, and loved the music, so, as I said in my previous Weekly, he clearly has good taste.  🙂  I thus encourage you, especially if you like folk/bluegrass/country or other genres of that mix, to come and support the music program at St. Andrew’s. $25 suggested donation at the door.

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Today is the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday.  We have two services at St. Andrew’s, one at Noon, where the music is rendered by an a cappella quintet; and one at 7:00pm with the full choir (still a cappella).  Here’s the music:

February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday (Noon and 7pm)
Anthem at the Imposition of Ashes: “Per signum crucis” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)
Anthem: “Remember not, Lord” by Henry Purcell
Fraction Anthem: “Verily, verily I say unto you” by Thomas Tallis
Communion motet:
(Noon): “Thou knowest, Lord” by Henry Purcell (1659‑1695)
(7:00pm): “Hear my prayer, O Lord” by Henry Purcell
Hymns: 149 (Old 124th), 411 (St. Thomas (Williams)), 152 (A la venue de Noël), 142 (St. Flavian)

Pretty solemn stuff — some of my favorite music! 😉

Evensong this week (Thursday, 5:45pm) marks the life of George Herbert, Anglican priest and mystical poet of the 17th century.  Below is the music to be rendered by an a cappella quartet:

February 27, 2020, 5:45pm, Choral Evensong: George Herbert (1593-1632)
Responses: John Repulski (2006)
Canticle of Light: “Blest be the God of love” by Timothy J. Krueger (2007)
Psalm: 23 – plainchant
Service: Thomas Attwood Walmisley (1814-1856) in D major
Anthem: The Call, by Clifford Harker (1923-1991)
Office Hymn: 592 (Carlisle)

The Canticle of Light, by me, is a hymn setting of two of Herbert’s poems, one called “Mattins” and the other “Evensong.”  Both poems have the same meter and the same scansion (if that’s the correct word), so they can be sung to the same tune.  I originally wrote the tune on the occasion of the retirement of our last rector, Connie Delzell (and therefore chose the tune name Delzell), writing it to fit the “Mattins” poem, the first line of which is “I cannot ope mine eyes.”  I think it’s one of the two best things I’ve ever written.

Clifford Harker was the organist of Bristol Cathedral for much of the middle part of the 20th century, and was the teacher/director/boss of my own doctoral thesis advisor (I like how the Germans call such a person one’s “Doktor Vater” — doctoral father) Lionel Pike, who was a chorister and later organ scholar under him (and who still receives these e-mails from me!).  So I consider Harker as my musical grandfather, so to speak.  His setting of “The Call” (“Come my Way, my Truth, my Life”) is exquisite.

The Waslmisley service in D major is not as well known as his monumental D minor service, but I love it almost as much.  The organ part doubles the choral parts 99% of the time (unlike the D minor service, where it is independent), and thus this service can be quite effectively rendered a cappella.

If today is Ash Wednesday, then Sunday must be the First Sunday of Lent:

March 1, 2020, 9:00 and 11:00am; Lent I
Great Litany [no introit or processional hymn]
Anthem: “Turn thee unto me” by William Boyce (1710-1779)
Fraction Anthem: “Verily, verily I say unto you” by Thomas Tallis (c.1505‑1585)
Communion motet: “Adam lay ybounden” by Peter Warlock (1894-1930)
Hymns: *143 (Erhalt uns, Herr), 146 (Ex more docti mystico), 688 (Ein feste Burg)
*Sung at 11:00 service only

The service begins with the Great Litany — with response harmonizations by Steve Kick.  The Boyce anthem is lovely, especially a little soprano duet in the middle.  And the Warlock is an odd little piece, but fun.

That’s it for this week.  I wish to all who keep it a very blessed Lent; and everyone else I give my own personal blessings.

Tim