Friday, November 11, 2016

Sharing an article on the Anglican Ordinariate

The Catholic Herald (UK) has a very nice article by Stephen Bullivant about taking his family to their first Anglican Ordinariate Mass. He doesn't mention which Ordinariate Parish they attended, but there are many in the UK! The online article includes a stock photo of Msgr. Keith Newton celebrating Mass.

I have plans to post a much longer article of my own regarding the Anglican Ordinariate, as well as its predecessor in the US, the Anglican Use (formally the "Pastoral Provision") which still exists in the US, even with the newer US Anglican Ordinariate.

Keep watching here for my article, but take some time reading the above articles and links.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

In Memoriam: Grigg Fountain

Grigg Thompson Fountain (1918 - 2016)
Organ Professor and Chapel Choir Director at Northwestern University 1961-1986

As I begin to compose the post, many of Grigg's former students are gathering at Northwestern University for the annual Hymnfest at Alice Millar Chapel, where most of us got to know him and be inspired by him. This year it is in his honor, and a I very much regret not being able to join in. Instead I offer this post to his remembrance, and a gift to anyone interested.

First Meeting

My high school band director suggested that I should attend a summer music camp the summer after my junior year. He showed me a number of flyers, mostly within Illinois. (I lived in Cahokia, just south of E. St. Louis where my Catholic High School was located.) I chose Northwestern University's three-week program. Yes, I was a '68 Cherub, and one of only two that took organ lessons. I also played clarinet in the Concert Band and sang in the Choir. We were also given some chances for solo and ensemble performance, and Grigg helped me refine a piece that I had already play at church for a wedding, the "Invocation" from an Organ Mass by Theodore Dubois. I performed it one evening on the wonderful Cassavant in Lutkin Hall, one of my fondest memories. I played it again for Grigg and Dr. Richard Enright. They considered it my audition to enter the school and the organ department upon graduation in '69.

As an aside, this also meant that I played clarinet under John Paynter, one of the best band directors of the entire 20th century; the program was run that summer by Fred Hemke; our Choir director was Margaret Hillis; and the guest conductor of the Orchestra was Karl Husa. This summer may have been the beginning of my being "in the right place at the right time" habit!

Student at Northwestern University

To be totally honest, I was sent home after NSHMI with a task of taking formal piano lessons during my HS senior year, and coming back in the spring for a piano audition to get into NU for the organ program. I did accomplish this, but since my piano background was so limited, I was required to take piano lessons along with my organ lessons, and these along with my clarinet (my minor) lessons. I played in the Marching  Band for two seasons as well as singing in Chapel Choir. Both were inspiring and memorable, but then my chosen career was to play the organ in Catholic churches, so that was much more important. Grigg mostly had graduate students, but took me on since we had worked the previous summer. Being around those students was also a blessing, and possibly an awakening. I remember a party at the Fountain house my freshman year - a beautiful modern house of mahogany!

Unfortunately, college didn't seem to agree with me, and I dropped out at Christmas time of my sophomore year. My lack of experience didn't help me, but the real problem was my left elbow. I had broken my left arm at about 5 years of age, just above the elbow, damaging the nerves to the growth center of the humerus bone. The ergonomics of my left arm, wrist, and hand made performance of any real repertoire very difficult. Oh well, I was really more interested in hymns and chant anyway.

But my time with Grigg was quite formational with me.

After Leaving NU

I spent a year back in southern Illinois working various jobs and getting my first car. Then I decided that I needed something fore solid for my life. I had spent some hours working with Kurt Roderer while at NU, and I really like working on  pipe organs. I called him, and he was agreeable to hire me as an apprentice. So, not much more than a year later, I was back on the NU campus. There were still former classmates finishing up there bachelors degree, as well as various graduate music students. The Roderer shop was in the Millar Chapel basement at that time. The organ shop would often come upstairs for lunch with Grigg and whoever else was around at lunchtime. This was about the time when Kurt Hansen came back to NU. It was an exciting time, especially since I felt more like I was in my element working on organs rather than playing them. This also that I often tuned the Skinner organ on Fridays for the weekend. Grigg would leave a list of problems so that we didn't have to "bang on pipes" unnecessarily. Helen also had a position at a suburban Episcopal church, and I would regularly tune the Hinners tracker there. Grigg and Helen also purchased an Estey reed organ - two  manual and pedal - and I performed some major work on it also. Even though Grigg wasn't really teaching me those years, he was still an influence, as were many fellow musicians at NU.

I had moved to Houston, Texas, and gotten married when Grigg retired. We drove up for the weekend, and I sang in the Chapel Alumnae Choir that evening. It was wonderful - singing favorite pieces from the Chapel repertoire. I also got to see John Paynter and Fred Hemke again. I may be one of few musicians who got so much out of the NU Music School without ever attaining a degree!

After Grigg's Retirement

A few years later, Visser-Rowland Associates built an organ for Fountain of Life Luther Church in Sun City, AZ. I had to make a tuning/servicing visit one week. Rather than fly immediately back to Houston, I flew to Albuquerque to visit Grigg and Helen in their retirement home. We had a very nice visit, and  in the morning we saw a snow storm coming in over the mountains to the north. There was an inch on the ground by the time Grigg took me to the airport. It was an interesting trip, since upon my arrival in Phoenix a few days earlier they had just had a sudden thunderstorm, and all the viaducts were full, and water rolling across the roads as I made my way over to Sun City.

Some time after than visit, Grigg and Helen were on a birding holiday in south Texas. Grigg had received a call from Duke University, asking him help out during an interim period. They interrupted their trip to fly there, leaving their Winnebago in our driveway. We had a nice visit on that occasion. I was quite frustrated with pipe organ building, and Grigg suggested that I might want to transcribe music professionally - something that I had been dabbling in since high school. It was a very good idea. After they left, I contacted the librarian of the Houston Symphony Orchestra who loaned me a comprehensive book on the subject. I understood it all. It all made sense, musically and visually. My problem was, again, my left arm. Not so much that it wouldn't work, but the first chapters in the book were about how to care for and hold a calligraphy pen. All the photos showed the pen in peoples' right hands! Oops! So that's why there are fat and thin sides of notes. Mine would all look backwards because I'm left handed! Well, I returned the book with a comment that I would wait till someone invented a computer program for music composition! (More on that and my gift to y'all below!)

You all know that Grigg was born in South Carolina, which is where I live now. I am the Associate Musician at Stella Maris Catholic Church on Sullivan's Island, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Since moving here in 2003, I chatted with Grigg a few times, the last being only a few months before he went to his well-deserved reward. Those conversations were also blessings!

"Ave Maria" by Charles Gounod
with J.S. Bach's Famous Accompaniment

Many years ago I came upon an octavo copy of the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" for Soprano Solo, SATB Chorus, Piano or Harp, and Organ. I think I paid a dime for it. I knew it could be stunning - with some changes. It was not the actual prayer, but the Sir Walter Scott "Lady of the Lake" poem. As a Catholic musician, I really needed it with the Latin text. It was also in the key of F major, giving both soprano parts a high C to sing. I'm sure none none of you need more fingers than on one hand the Catholic choirs that can boast such a soprano!

Here at Stella Maris, we have a wonderful tradition of performing the Gabriel Fauré "Requiem" in its original form - the actual music of the Latin Mass, i.e. the Traditional Latin Mass, or EF Mass. That is what it was composed for, not concert or stage performances, and we usually have as many instrumentalists as can fit in our choir loft. The performance does, however, leave a few parts of the Latin Mass without music, notably the rest of the distribution of Holy Communion. So we find other repertoire to perform. Last year it was time for my re-arrangement of the classic "Ave Maria"!

This piece is quite flexible. I have put it all into Finale, the most popular music composing program. The original Bach had a few adjustments made by the original arranger from 1913, which I returned to Bach's original. The rhythms had to be adjusted for the Latin text. I lowered it to D major so our sopranos only needed to hit a high A. I added string parts. Here is what I have available at this point:

Soprano Solo with SATB Chorus
Bach's original for Harp or Keyboard
String parts based on the organ accompaniment
String parts colla parte of the Chorus

I'm including in this post an audio recording from that Requiem High Mass using the strings to support the choral parts (except for the contrabass taking the organ pedal part), Harp playing the Bach, and the organ accompaniment.

Without a harp (or piano, if you must!), the strings can play the organ parts and the organ play the Bach. The whole thing is quite flexible!

I have decided to dedicate my work re-arranging this piece to Grigg. And I offer it to any of you who would like to use it, in any configuration, and remember Grigg at the same time. Just contact me with your specific key signature and instrumentation needs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Ave Maria" by Vavilov in the style of Caccini (updated)

I recently posted a movie review of "The Von Trapp Family: A life of Music". As I stated, there was none of musical pieces from "The Sound of Music", rather music that the family typically performed at the time.

One piece is the "Ave Maria" by Vladimir Vavilov, but commonly attributed to Giulio Caccini. It is performed in the movie to particular infuriate the Austrian Nazi Party members who warned the Captain not to perform there. There are a number of arrangements of the piece. Here are just a few:
(very interesting!)

As you can hear, this is a very versatile piece! You might also notice that it only repeats "Ave Maria" without going into the rest of the prayer.

I have a simple arrangement by John Ross that we used the first Sunday in October with our cantor, Lara Brooksbank. I've taken it to Finale, made only a few minor adjustments to the accompaniment, and added the entire "Ave Maria" text. I've shared this with John, and he likes the result.

Here are JPG files in the key of E minor:

And here are JPG files in D minor, that might be easier for some cantors:



The above files have been modified since I put them up here originally.

If these JPG files don't work well enough for you (they're shown here very small, but are 600 DPI on letter size paper), let me know in a comment, or contact me on FaceBook. I have them in PDF as well. Or, if you need a different key, let me know.

And here is the SATB version in G minor:

I can still add some string parts. I don't when I will get to it, though. I will record the solo version with one of our cantors. Here is a recording with me playing the organ at the Parish Hall Mass with Lara Brooksbank singing:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Movie Review of "The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music" (2015)

This is a first for me on my blog - a movie review!

I am a big fan of "The Sound of Music" and whole von Trapp family story. I saw the Julie Andrews' movie back in 1967 at the old St. Louis Theater, now the home of the St. Louis Symphony. Over the last year I've also seen the original German movie, "Die Trapp-Familie" (1956), that was the inspiration for the Broadway show and movie, as well as its sequel, "Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika" (1958). I highly recommend them as well, maybe even to view before one views this new 2015 movie.

The first of these follows the story line of "Sound of Music" very closely, but with the music being a combination of Catholic hymns and Austrian folk music. The sequel covers their first few years in the USA, starting in New York City, and then moving to their Vermont home. The music and the acting are very good throughout the two movies.

I would also suggest this Wiki article on Captain von Trapp:

Now to the new movie.

This is the story going back to the death of Agatha (nee Whitehead) von Trapp from scarlet fever contracted from her oldest daughter, Agathe. This is Agathe's story, as told to her niece (or grand niece), from her perspective. There are many parallels to the earlier movies, but many aspects that were pretty much ignored previously are now brought out quite clearly, mainly the turmoil in Austria before WWII. The Nazi hatred of Catholics, Jews, artists, and familial social status is quite clear! There is still no music from Broadway, but a different selection of Catholic and Austrian music, performed quite nicely.

Here is a YouTube link to the trailer:

I think this film is available somewhere on the internet. I purchased a copy through Ebay. It's a Region 6 DVD, so I can only watch it on my Region 0 (all Region) player, or loan it to people who also have one.

I dare you to get through this with dry eyes!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

St. John's Lane, Dublin

Now that my visit to Dublin is a couple of weeks in the past, I am so thankful to Beverly Faber for recommending the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine for me to visit! I took a lot of photos, and posted the best here in my "Travel Log", but here are a couple of videos:

This fist is a tour of the interior with a few of the front entrance, along with some wonderful Bach background music.

As I mentioned in the Travel Log, this was my first anti-clockwise bell ringing experience, and on a 9-bell method at that! This video is not from that ringing session, but one of the ringers took a really good video of all nine bells being rung on their outing.

This is a really beautiful church - even more so that either of the larger non-Catholic Cathedrals! And the bells were a great experience to ring!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Travel Log - Day 22

There is a very nice Catholic Church named St. Audoen's with a vibrant Polish community supporting it. They don't have any bells.

It's St Audoen's Church, Church of Ireland, that has a peal of bells, including three of the oldest bells in Ireland. The site of these two church buildings have a historic and archaeological commonality, with the latter being the older building.

I rang a touch of Stedman Doubles (5-bell method) on the #3 bell - one of the bells cast in 1423.

I recorded this as I headed on to Latin Mass:

St. Kevin's Church was one of my commitments to investigate by attending their weekly Latin High Mass. I took a taxi from ringing to Mass, just so I wouldn't be late.

As stated on the parish website, this church is designated by the Archbishop as the Latin Mass Chaplaincy. Its architect was E.W. Pugin, just as St. John's Lane from Saturday's bell ringing, and there is a connection to Blessed John Newman.

It looks like this wraps up my trip. All I need now is dinner somewhere and then packing to leave tomorrow morning. It has been a whirlwind of things to do, and I loved it all! And I give special thanks to Michael and Raven who gave me an extra day to relax before finishing my grand tour.

I hope all of you have enjoyed reading about it.

Travel Log - Day 21 Afternoon

After the morning's ringing, we all had lunch at the Porterhouse. Being a group of about 30, they gave us the dining area on the second floor (i.e. the third floor in US terms).

The tower for the afternoon was St. Patrick's Cathedral, a peal of 12 bells with a tenor weighing almost 5,100 pounds (very close to the weight of the tenor at Christ Church Cathedral in the morning). Look here for some interesting notes about the bell tower.

I rang in a touch Grandsire Cinques (11-bell method) and only went wrong once. I'm sure I could ring these methods on larger numbers of bells if I could live in the UK!

I had planned to spend the day being a tourist - seeing both the "Book of Kells" and the Museum display about the Irish "Easter Rising", but bell ringing with my friends trumps being just a tourist. I'll try to get those things on my next trip.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Travel Log - Day 21 Morning

The rail and ferry journey was great, and I checked into my room at Trinity U., Dublin at about 8:30PM. Through email correspondence I had learned that ringers from Southwark Cathedral were also visiting Dublin this weekend on a ringing outing, and that I was welcome to join with them ringing today. I had planned on ringing in both of the major Cathedrals (neither Roman Catholic) but they were ringing in a few more!

The first was at 9:30AM - a very beautiful Catholic church designed by E.W. Pugin, son of the famous A.W. Pugin. I found many architectural and ornamental aspects that reminded me of our own Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, also designed by an Irish architect. The steeple is the highest in the city, but the tower was not designed for bells - you can read about them HERE.

The climb up to the ringing room was wild! (See the above link to the church's website about the bells.) The first spiral staircase went only up to the choir loft. The pipe organ is spread across the back wall with two casework towers left and right. These have facade pipes, but no interior pipes. On the left side this case hides the lower part of another steel spiral stair leading up to a straight stair into the ceiling above the choir loft! (A few of the Southwark Cathedral ringers declined to go up.)

Views from the stairs:

The ringing room is narrow, with bells 1-4 in a straight line along the west wall. The sallies are green/white/yellow, the national colors of Ireland:

This ring is anti-clockwise, i.e. the lighter weight bells are to one's left rather than right. The tenor bell weighs 2550 pounds. I rang the #5 bell to a touch of Grandsire Caters (9-bell method). This being my first ever anti-clockwise ringing, I was surprised that this was one of my best on this method!

Here are some photos of the beautifully decorated interior:

Oh! And there's a connection between this church and a Diocese in India:

Next, we all walked a few blocks to Christ Church Cathedral where they have augmented their bells to a total of 16! I rang rounds and call changes on the #4 bell. The calls were to be executed similarly by each group of four bells, e.g. bells 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16 were each considered to be 1-4. The rest of the ringers were capable of more complex ringing in 16, but I just watched and listened!

Here are photos of both exterior and interior:

And the organ is by Irish builder, Kenneth Jones, whose firm also built the organ at St. Michael's in downtown Charleston.
(photo from the internet)

More on the rest of the day later.