Music Notes - The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C
Our final Sunday in Lent (next being Palm Sunday) sees 16th-century England meet 21st-century Britain by way of a short stop in 19th-century England.
Further representing our Music Ministry’s support and inclusion of underrepresented composers, this week’s prelude is a continuation of our Women’s History Month celebration with a composition by the first ever British composer to become a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire!
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Dame Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944), a staunch member of the women’s suffrage movement and renowned (if overlooked) composer of songs, chamber music, operas, and piano, choral, and orchestral works. Her father’s opposition to her career choice as a musician, and the oppression faced by women at this time, made it difficult for Smyth to get a strong footing as a composer. To illustrate this, consider that her last hour-long work, The Prison, was first performed in 1931 but only first recorded in 2020. However, she was able to study in Germany and connected with such well-known figures as Dvořák, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky.
First published in 1913, having been composed in 1882-1884, her Short Chorale Prelude on Du O Gott, du frommer Gott (Tr. “Oh God, you righteous god”) is a work in two halves: a typical ornamented prelude setting, and a canon on the same. In the former, listen for Smyth’s use of harmonic progression, in conjunction with a significant pedal line, in support of the melody. In the second “canon” section, listen for Smyth’s use of the melody in both the uppermost voice, and in that of the pedal (heard on a reed stop/sound).
Bonus Fact: Smyth had several romantic affairs, including with librettist her work The Prison, Henry Bennet Brewster (1850-1908), who may have been her only male lover. She was besotted by Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) and Smyth's relationship with Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (1872-1948) is depicted satirically in Roger Scruton's (1944-2020) opera, Violet.
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Christopher Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019) was a renowned British organist (both liturgical and concert) and composer for both his instrument and choir. He studied with the unparalleled Marcel Dupré (1886-1971) in Paris, and in Italy with Fernando Germani (1906-1998), famous for his pedagogical methods for organ.
Rawsthorne was instrumental in the refurbishment of the Rushworth and Dreaper organ in the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool and received an honorary doctorate from the same city’s university.
A man with a simple career but good career, his composition Like as a Hart is Rawsthorne’s paraphrase of Psalm 42.
Fun Fact: Though this piece, like many of his, demonstrates Rawsthorne’s serious composition, he is also capable of great humour. Click here to listen to his Hornpipe Humoresque, a tongue-in-cheek composition on a The Sailor’s Hornpipe in a variety of styles; you can’t miss the “hornpipe”!
Bonus Nerdy Fact: Rawsthorne uses a harmonic progression known as a tertiary modulation. This is where a common note between two keys is used as a pivot tone. This is simpler than it sounds. For example, in this piece a chord of G Minor (notes G, Bb, D) shares a note with Bb Minor (Bb, Db, F). You can hear this in the text “my tears have been my meat day and night”. End of my geeking out (for this work at least…)!
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With its text by Phineas Fletcher (1582-1650), an English poet and clergyman, Orlando Gibbons’ (1583-1625) Drop, Drop Slow Tears is an example of economic compositional style. Measure for measure (Shakespeare was a contemporary of Gibbons) this is a piece worth many times its 21 measures and 3 verses in poetic and musical beauty.
Gibbons was a master of the English Madrigal and Virginalist (a type of keyboard instrument) Schools and despite his short life, he is seen as an important transitional figure from the Renaissance to the Baroque periods of style. Along with his choral output, Gibbons is well regarded for his pioneering keyboard works, and was the youngest composer to be included in the first publication of English Keyboard Works, Parthenia.
Bonus Fact: Despite little being known about his persona, we do know that there is a complaint reported in 1620 that Henry Eveseed, a yeoman of the vestry, assaulted Gibbons, stating that Eveseed "did violently and sodenly without cause runne uppon Mr Gibbons took up and threw him doune uppon a standard... and withall he tare his band from his neck" (This British guy had to read it a couple of times, too!).
Director of Music
Director of Music
(215) 247-7466 ext. 105
Tyrone (he/him) writes, “I am beyond excited to have been appointed as the next Director of Music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and I cannot wait to begin working with you all. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in such a faithful, progressive, and musical church with such a wonderful tradition. My husband, Sean and I look forward very much to meeting you all.”
A prize-winning organist and conductor, Mr. Tyrone Whiting is a graduate of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and the Royal College of Music, both in London, UK.
In September 2017, Tyrone was appointed Director of Music at Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey, USA and began work 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, raising the profile of music at Grace Church and the Arts in Newark, NJ.
He has been fortunate to perform at some of the top churches and venues including Westminster Abbey, the Royal Albert Hall, St. Sulpice and Le Mans cathedral in France, as well as featuring in Trinity Wall Street’s Pipes at One series last summer.
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 3 years and worked as an animateur in London schools and the London Mozart Players.
As a pianist, Tyrone has studied with Philip Fowke, Andrew Zolinsky, and Alvin Moisey. He performs often as a soloist, accompanist, and répétiteur, holding the Licentiateship diploma of the Royal School of Music (LRSM) in Piano Performance.
More information about Tyrone can be found at www.tyronewhiting.com.
Welcome to Music Notes, a weekly blog discussing the music in support of our weekly worship services! Each week, we will explore the history, context, and relationship to liturgy which our service music has.
Music is an integral fundamental part of the worship and life of St. Martin’s. A typical Sunday Eucharist will include two anthems, and a psalm sung by the choir, as well a congregational mass setting (sometimes choral settings are used) and hymns. Congregational singing is an important part of our worship; music adds heightened meaning to texts and scripture and is a wonderful medium for expressing the inexpressible in times of joy and gladness, or in time of difficulty and sadness.