Music News

Coming Soon!

A New Organ: The Allen G340-DK

The Allen G340-DK

The new organ will grace our Sanctuary likely by mid-Summer 2018 and will bring with it a modification to the interior frontal design of the church designed by a professional architectural firm to accomodate key components of the instrument. A placard currently on display in the Narthex of the Church represents these changes. The organ will feature the following state-of-the-art characteristics (more information available at Allenorgan.com):

  • A movable console consisting of three manuals, AGO standard conclave pedalboard, and 50 Stops (58 stops with optional GeniSys Voices - two stops per division) in drawknob configuration
  • GeniSys Voicing and Display - advanced touchscreen control providing access to the many functions of a modern console, known as a Vista Navigator or a sequencer; 40 combination action memory levels (and many more via USB drive) to meet the demands of most organ literature and service playing
  • 7-Channel Audio System including Antiphonal Division  
  • Manuals controlled by touch-sensitive Optical Sensor Technology 
  • Advanced MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) capability in HD with over 250 options including additional organ voices, orchestral, keyboard and percussion voices (a particular favorite are the chimes!)
  • Six traditional sound profiles (known as suites) sampling some of the world's most important organ building traditions, including: 

Classic Allen - Allen's "signature" specification. Nearly 40 years before the advent of Stop List Library™, Allen tonal directors created the specifications of Allen digital organs by selecting their favorite samples from fine pipe organs throughout the world. 
English (Willis) - Characterized by Diapasons and weighty reeds, this style of organ building was brought to its height by renowned 19th-century British organ craftsman Henry Willis. Numbered among his greatest works are the organs of St. Paul's Cathedral, London and The Royal Albert Hall.
Cavaillé-Coll - Broad Montrés and dominant fiery reeds are integral parts of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll's tonal scheme. The genius of this
French organ builder was his creation of the symphonic organ. The "Grande Orgue" became an extension of the orchestra and "a new sound for a new age".
Schlicker - The Schlicker Organ Company specialized in instruments of Neo-Baroque design supportive of contrapuntal music. The European heritage of this American organ builder is readily evident in the sound of their instruments.
Arp Schnitger - A renowned tradition of the 17th century, the Arp Schnitger is a monument of the North-German School of organ building.

Aeolian-Skinner - Under the tonal direction of G. Donald Harrison, this company developed the American Classic tonal design, characterized by firm and articulate principals, bright mixtures and French-style reeds.

Three additional theatre suites include:

Wurlitzer - "The Mighty Wurlitzer" was perhaps the "gold standard" of theatre organs during the silent movie era. Due to Wurlitzer's "assembly line" approach to organ building, various ranks, for the most part, sounded very similar from organ to organ.
Morton - Morton theatre organs "evolved" over the course of the silent movie era. Allen's samples are from a late 1920s organ that used higher wind pressures than the typical theatre organ and was known as one of Morton's "jazzier" instruments.
Barton - Barton was mainly known in the Midwest area in the United States. Their most famous instrument was the theatre organ installed in the Chicago Stadium. Barton's were known for their "aggressive" voicing style.

We are ever so grateful to the boundless generosity of our parishioners, clergy, and Organ Committee for giving of their time and treasure to create a reality of this aspiration. We will be very happy to welcome our new organ and cordially invite you to inquire or to join the music ministry for this new chapter in our worship life together as a Parish. 

In addition to incorporating the wonderful tradition of repertoire, hymnody, and accompaniment, the organ will make possible a number of new initiatives (and revisiting of old ones) in the area of Concert Ministries and may include such events as choral and instrumental performances, organ recitals and demonstrations, School show-and-tells (field days entitled "pedals and pizza") or other children's programs such as Christmas Pageants or a special program for All Souls Day (Halloween), hymn sings, a joint event of the Cleveland Chapters of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and the National Pastoral Musicians Association (NPM), or services to other important events throughout the Liturgical Year. Stay tuned as we move forward with this exciting new project! 

Please also check out Patrick's Recordings and Musings where our Director of Music will keep you informed on his latest as well as other fun topics related to the musical arts, some of which will relate directly to the organ while others may relate to broader musical issues in dialogue with what we do at SJA. 

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As some have noted, the Vatican recently installed an Allen at St. Peter’s Basilica (temporarily, as research is conducted into the possibility a new pipe organ). An article entitled Digital organs are the future - it's time to end the schism addresses the charged conversation surrounding the increasing use of digital organ technology in churches, from the standpoint of both industry and artistic integrity and viability. Some feel “if it doesn’t have pipes, it is not an organ.” Others choose to embrace the trend for a number of reasons, not the least of which that it is easily "ten times" more expensive to purchase and maintain a fine instrument today then it was in the heyday of music ministry 60 or more years ago.

The Organ is traditinally the backbone of the Church's worship. While the ideal for the organist is indeed the pipe organ, this is not always feasible. Where, then, do we legitimately consider means by which technology is capable of providing congregations and highly skilled organists access to the “pride of place” which the organ and its inimitable properties justly occupy? 

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Another recent article from the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship by Frank La Rocca recounts an interesting interview with Sir James MacMillan, one of the UK’s leading musical minds and one of classical music’s foremost contemporary composers. The article articulates the genesis of the TheoArtistry Festival which pairs young and developing composers with leading theologians to create works of artistic collaboration and synergy. Mr. MacMillan’s inspiration for this festival comes from his work on the St. Luke Passion (2014) with Duke University’s Jeremy Begbie, renowned theologian and musician at the forefront of the modern theological aesthetics movement. Other works of James MacMillan which have a spiritual outlook include a St. John Passion (2008), Seven Last Words from the Cross (a cantata for choir and strings of 1993), a Mass (2000), and A European Requiem (2017). Mr. MacMillan has also written works for many of the world’s major forces and continues to be an inspiration for younger generations of performers and composers. 

 

It is important to note that the TheoArtistry Festival is closely associated with “ITIA – the Institute for Theology and Imagination in the Arts – [which] was founded at St. Andrew’s University in 2000, merging an existing program with Begbie’s Cambridge project, “Theology Through the Arts.” This interview then broadens “into large themes, especially the relationship between music and the sacred.” Music's 'sacred' properties have been expressed in many ways throughout its history and have imbued the art form with a particular spiritual energy claimed even by the larger secular world. The music of Richard Wagner, MacMillan claims, is particularly influential to composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, and even Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage. These artists wrote a kind of reactionary music and philosophy of spiritual means. They wrote ‘music for the ages’ which sought to challenge the human mind to ‘move beyond’ in that most substantial sense of the term. 

 

In fact, it is Wagner (particularly Parsifal and Tristan) who “[brings] this search for the sacred right into the heart of modernity. Without Wagner, there wouldn’t have been this constant search for the sacred in music throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” Rather, it is true, La Rocca continues, that “[this sweeping claim] does not intuitively yield to “the received wisdom…that Wagner laid the foundations for the modernist rejection of traditional harmony and form resulting in what musicologist Carl Dahlhaus dubbed modernism’s “Great Disruption”. That many graduate music schools of the 1960’s and 70’s spent much of their time making composition study difficult in their “brutalist rejection of beauty” and repudiation of the concept of drawing “inspiration from the pages of musical tradition” is testimony of such a transcendental mystical extension of harmonic aesthetic that was the essence high Romanticism. What then are we to make of those works of art which are not thought of as religious

 

MacMillan continues, “This is a complete reassessment of modernity and modernism through theology, one that is required and timely. It means that even before we got on to Messiaen and all those composers who came out from behind the Iron Curtain after Shostakovich: Pärt, Penderecki, Gorecki, Kancheli, Schnittke, Gubaidulina; and in this country, Tavener, Jonathan Harvey, and many others. You could argue, therefore, that our discussion about modernity and music would be incomplete without a discussion of a search for the sacred. Which could even be argued has been central to modernity. It’s not just the so-called “conservative” composers that have been marked by this, but very cutting-edge modernist figures such as the ones I’ve mentioned have been among those most affected by Wagner’s example."

 

"I mean this idea of inspiration, you know, the in-breathing – which is what inspiration means – and the power of the Spirit even to the extent of the Spirit being instrumental in the conception in the Incarnation of Christ, it was a living reality with Mary and her Son. But perhaps it’s a living reality in every composer’s, in every artist’s, mind as well. It’s the same in-breathing process, the inspiration, the breathing in of that divine essence and spirit that gives birth to our little incarnations, which can be pieces of music, works of art, so in that sense, being open to the Spirit, being open to being divinely inspired is a Marian concept, and an inspiration for all Catholics.”

 

 

 

Organ Demos

The links below feature information on Allen GeniSys Voices and Display. The first clip features a highly detailed technical demonstration by organist Hector Olivera while the second features a more basic explanation by Barry Holben, VP of Sales at Allen: 

Progress on Preparations at SJA

Patrick's Recordings (2006-2017)

Jesse Ayers: Beneath Suspicion

Patrick's Musings

Up-Coming Events

KSU Orchestra and Chorus performance is scheduled for Sunday, May 6, 2018, 3PM at Cartwright Auditorium on the main campus of Kent State University. Music, poetry, dance and journalism weave together for the world premiere of "I Sing the Body," a newly composed multi-movement work for chorus and orchestra which will include a new piece of mine entitled "My Voice". Drawing on the talent of students from across the university, the creation of this work represents the interdisciplinary collaboration of the School of Music, Wick Poetry Center, the School of Theatre and Dance, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (recording interviews with the composers, including myself, forthcoming). The concert will open with Verdi's "Nabucco Overture." As a grand finale, the KSU Orchestra and Choirs will also perform the "Dona nobis pacem" of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Jungho Kim and Scott MacPherson conduct. Come one, come all!

I will be performing a Student Showcase Recital with violin featuring the Kreutzer sonata of Beethoven, as well as sonatas of Schumann and Mozart on Thursday, April 26th, 7:30PM at Ludwig Recital Hall on the main campus of KSUI will also perform a new multi-movement piano work (so new, in fact, that I have not yet finished the third movement) entitled 3 Pieces for Piano on the last Student Composers Recital of the academic year. This recital is April 30th, 2018, 8PM in Ludwig Recital Hall and will round out my first year as a PhD student there in Music Theory and Composition.

The above video, a Civil War Era operatic scene composed by Dr. Jesse Ayers of Malone University entitled Beneath Suspicion, was selected in 2018 as a semi-finalist feature in the College/University division of the prestigious American Prize National non-profit competitions in the performing arts. This performance features myself as accompanist, with Jessica Crowell and Desirée Mischell Hargrave sopranos, and Joy O'Connor (violin). It was recorded in May 2017 at Malone University's Johnson Center. Congratulations to my colleagues and friends with whom I have enjoyed creating new and beautiful music. 

Many of the above recordings are from my days as a student at Oberlin Conservatory and at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Antonio Pompa-Baldi (Gold in the 2000 Cleveland International Piano Competition and Silver in the Queen Elizabeth Competition). 

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church

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