Music Notes: Fourth Sunday after Epiphany January 29th, 2023
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
January 29th, 2023
Welcome to Music Notes! Your weekly insight to the music making at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia!
This week, the music in our 10:30AM service spans centuries as well as continents! From the ancient Russian Orthodox chant of the Beatitudes to the present day (well, 2012 at least!) with music inspired by Japanese and east Asian musical traditions. The sheer variety of music we can offer to the Glory of God is foundational to our music ministries at St. Martin’s.
Thanks to Brooke Witherite our Chorister Leader, for stepping in with her musical gifts and supporting our LIFT service in January. We are currently advertising for a new, Children, Youth, and Families Music Leader to help support our 9AM worship service and move with us into the future!
The Offertory Anthem this week is by living composer Susan Matsui (b. 1959). Studying in the USA at Williams College, MA, as well as in Europe at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Having spent over 20 years in Japan, Matsui’s work is heavily influenced by the traditions of East Asian, and this can be heard in some of the pentatonic (5-note melodies) as well as parallel harmonies in the work we hear this Sunday. As well as being a composer, conductor, and organist, Susan Matsui is also author of many children’s books, which are still being published today in Japan.
Her piece Create a Pure Heart in Me is a paraphrase of Psalm 51 and in her own words is “hushed and contemplative." A beautiful melody is first heard in the altos and then the sopranos, before being shared among the tenors and basses. Listen for how similar melodies change in color (or “timbre”) as they are passed between the sections of the choir. The sopranos and altos share a flowing duo before the tenors and basses enter for an unaccompanied last verse. A simple but effective setting of Psalm 51.
The Beatitudes – Russian Orthodox Chant
From the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Our Savior Jesus Christ according to Matthew, the Beatitudes introd
In Luke, we see four Beatitudes, followed by the four woes (Luke 6:24-26) which are not in this setting. The name given to this text, the Beatitudes, comes from the Latin for “happy” or “blessed": beati. The various translations of who is happy/blessed is too long for discussion here, but it is interesting to see how different composers set different translations.
From the Book of Mormon to the Baháʼí faith’s Lawḥ-i-Aqdas, from the Bhagavad Gita and traditional writings of Buddhism to the New Testament’s Epistle of James, we see many parallels to the Beatitudes. This Sunday’s setting has its origins in the Orthodox church of the tenth century, if not before, and its regular use woven into the Divine Liturgy of the same today. This simple setting in 3 parts puts the text and meaning at the forefront of its contribution to our worship.
For a “modern” iteration of the same, consider Pope Francis’s beatitudes from his visit to Sweden in 2016 (shamelessly taken here from Wikipedia):
1.Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart;
2.Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness;
3.Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover Him;
4.Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home;
5.Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others;
6.Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
Written for organ or harmonium, Marcel Dupré’s (1886-1971) Elevation, Op. 2, first appeared in the publication Maîtres contemporains de l’orgue (an eight-volume collection) in 1912 and is dedicated to no-less than Louis Vierne. Written in the distinct vernacular of early 20th century French organ music, Dupré takes the listener on a journey through many beautiful sonorities and harmonic structures while maintaining his characteristically wonderful melodic writing and development.
The Postlude, Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten by Georg Böhm (1661-1733) is based on a 1641 melody by Georg Neumark (1621-1681), and has also been set in Chorale-Preludes by such composers as Bach, Telemann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Reger. Böhm’s expert treatment of some of his chorale preludes certainly would have been an influence on J. S. Bach who most certainly heard Böhm play during the latter's time at the Church of St. Johannis in Lüneburg.
Böhm’s setting of Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten is written in verses or variations which vary in texture, tempo, and rhythm.
Director of Music & Arts
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As Director of Music & Arts at St. Martin's, Mr. Tyrone Whiting (he/him) oversees all our music and arts ministries, outreach, and education. Tyrone says: "With a robed adult choir supported by four professional section leaders, a children’s choir Chorister program, and a robust series of concerts throughout the year, St. Martin’s is an incredibly musically active church, whose mission and outreach are at the heart of the music program. I am proud and grateful to all who participate and support our music ministries."
Winner of multiple prizes, organist, pianist, and conductor, Tyrone Whiting began his formal studies as a teenager with Nigel McClintock at Croydon Parish Church (now Croydon Minster) in London, UK. Five years later, in the summer of 2011, he was awarded the Associateship diploma of the Royal College of Organists (ARCO).
Tyrone previously graduated from the Royal College of Music (RCM) as a scholar from the Postgraduate Diploma in Performance Science course, where he was generously funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship and supported by the Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award. Returning to the RCM in 2016, Tyrone received a distinction in the one-year fast-track Master of Music degree course, achieving an ‘excellent’ category distinction grade in his final organ recital, and receiving the renowned Harold Darke Prize in 2017. Tyrone studied organ with both David Graham and Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, conducting with Peter Stark and Howard Williams, and has also undertaken historical performance projects with Jane Chapman and Lawrence Zazzo.
Graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he studied organ performance with William Whitehead, Daniel Moult, and Ann Elise Smoot, Tyrone was three times winner of the Geoffrey Singleton Prize for Organ Performance (2010, 2011 & 2012), and twice winner of the Cardnell Organ Prize for ‘talents as an organist’ (2011 & 2012). Throughout the degree, Tyrone trained as a pianist under the direction of the renowned Phillip Fowke and continues to perform piano alongside his organ work. Tyrone also studied at Trinity’s Junior Department where he was awarded the Hambourg Award for Improvisation.
In September 2017, Tyrone was appointed Director of Music at Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey, USA and began working there in February 2018. At Grace Church, Tyrone extended the Chorister Choir School program, developed and expanded the adult choir, and founded a brand-new adult chamber choir, Brick City Chorus, as well as significantly raising the profile of music at Grace Church and the Arts in Newark, NJ.
Prior to Tyrone’s arrival in the USA, he was Director of Music at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Battersea from 2012 to early 2018. At St. Mary’s, Tyrone established a biennial recital series as well as a new fully-funded choral scholarship program, and conducted several large-scale concerts including Mozart and Fauré’s requiems, J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion, and Stainer’s Crucifixion. Collaborative work included conducting a recent commission by prominent British composer Simon Bainbridge written for the Choir of St. Mary’s, as well as working as accompanist for the Philharmonia Chorus under conductors Stefan Bevier and Yaron Traub.
Passionate about teaching, Tyrone was awarded the Licentiateship diploma of Trinity College, London (LTCL) in Instrumental/Vocal Teaching with a high distinction and worked in and around London as a teacher of organ, piano, and theory. He was formerly Head of Music at Elmhurst Independent School for Boys for many years and worked as an animateur in London schools and with the London Mozart Players.