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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Frank LaRocca and a cappella sacred music on MusicSpoke


I updated the sacred a cappella choral list I made the other day to include the music of Frank LaRocca.  I wanted to do a separate post about it because I'm so excited to have him onboard at MusicSpoke. I seriously love his music. It's the kind of music that I often try to write. I find it exquisitely beautiful, expertly informed by tradition, unmistakably modern, lush, and gorgeous. If you don't know about him, you need to.

O Sacrum Convivium

Miserere click here for a recording

Anima Christi

Ave Maris Stella

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The 38 reasons you need MusicSpoke in your life this week. You won't believe #5!



One of our British MusicSpoke composers, Matthew Cann, asked for a list of the a cappella sacred choral music we now have available on MusicSpoke.

It's wonderful just to use the site to listen to some of this fabulous music. It's even better to buy it and work with the composer.

So, in alphabetical order by composer, I've made a rough list. The catalogue is already getting large, so if I skipped one, let me know.


Flowers for the Altar - Eric Barnum
In Paradisum - Eric Barnum

In Manus Tuas - Matthew Cann
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis - Matthew Cann

Fishing in the Keep of Silence - Paul Carey

Alleluia - Saunder Choi

Benediction - John Conahan
Of Man and of Angels - John Conahan

God's Grandeur - Garret Hope

The Holly and the Ivy - Jason Horner
Lo, How a Rose, There is a Flower - Jason Horner
Unison Prayer - Jason Horner

Ayin - Ryan Keebaugh
Our Father - Ryan Keebaugh
The Suffering Servant - Ryan Keebaugh

Ordo Rachelis - Kurt Knecht

Jubilate Deo - Connor Koppin
Vidi Aquam - Connor Koppin
O Vos Omnes - Connor Koppin

O Sacrum Convivium - Frank LaRocca
Miserere - Frank LaRocca
Anima Christe - Frank LaRocca
Ave Maria Stella - Frank LaRocca

Jesus is Mine - Andrew Marshall
Praise to the Lord - Andrew Marshall

Sicut Cervus - David Montoya

Land of Rest - Mona Lyn Reese

The Creation - Tinsley Silcox

And Good in Every Thing - Kile Smith
God So Loved the World - Kile Smith

Alleluia - Joseph Gentry Stephens
Requiem Aeternum - Joseph Gentry Stephens
Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One - Joseph Gentry Stephens
Sing Unto God - Joseph Gentry Stephens

Abun D'bash'maiyo - Mark Templeton

I See His Blood Upon the Rose - Timothy Tharaldson
Nearer, My God, to Thee - Timothy Tharaldson

Blessing - Dale Trumbore
Es Autem Fides Credere - Dale Trumbore
Kyrie Eleison - Dale Trumbore
Sing to the Lord - Dale Trumbore

Cradle Hymn - David von Kampen


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fugue on the NPR theme

Some of my composition students are currently in Gretchen Foley's fiercely graded 18th century counterpoint class.  She asked me if I would pull out my final project and give her a copy. I had a little bit of practice time on Spring Break.

I took the NPR theme and turned it into the kind of subject you would use for a gigue fugue. I then used the Bach G Major fugue BWV 541 as a sort of template for the structure. All of the subject entries are annotated, and I even managed some stretto entrances at the end.

The playing is a little rough in patches, but the beast is dreadfully difficult to play. I originally thought the theme was by the ubiquitous B.J. Liederman, but it turns out it was by Voegeli.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What great musical education looks like

I had another opportunity to find great musical education happening this week. This time, to my great delight, it was my oldest son Zach. He is the executive director of the Academy of Rock here in Lincoln, and I had the chance to watch him work with some middle school boys.

The first thing I look for in a music educator is to check whether they are actually engaging their students. Zach had an immediate rapport with the kids. He was energetic and encouraging.

After hearing them play, he immediately complimented them on what they did well. This is a great best practice for any young educator.

When it comes to problems, here is my ideal.

1. Quickly assess the problem.
2. Explain the problem
3. Demonstrate the right way to do it
4. Let the student try to do it
5. Provide tools and strategies for improvement

I saw all of that, and then he even wrapped up the session by talking about an upcoming performance and how to deal with any stage fright that might be encountered.

I might be biased, but I saw some fabulous educating happening, and I always like to praise that when I see it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Unalienable rights and the cross

It appears that the dreaded election season is already upon us. I'm always taken aback a little when I hear politicians playing like they are theologians — funny, I don't have the same problem when musicians do it.

In any case, I find it odd when people like Ted Cruz claim that we have unalienable rights given by God.  Certainly, Thomas Jeffersons God might have doled out things like that, but I'm not sure the one in the Bible did that stuff.

In Jewish and subsequent Christian thought, the encounter with God results in an ethical demand on us to the world. This outward focus is manifested in the history of art. Chesterton points out that the Buddhist tradition always sculpts Buddha with his eyes closed or half-closed because he is focussing inward. The heroes from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Saints are always wide-eyed and facing out to the world. It's not that there aren't examples of inward focussed saints and outward focussed Buddhas. It's a generalization with all the strengths and weakness of one.  The Judeo-Christian theophany always results in working to repair the world.

The idea that your neighbor has a claim on you, or rather, as Jesus puts it, you are a neighbor to everyone seems a very different concept than an unalienable right. When someone violates my "rights", I need to defend them. When God places an ethical demand on me to love my neighbor as myself, there is no limit to what I may be called to give up in order to love him/her.

So, Hosea may have to suffer the shame of marrying a prostitute. Jeremiah may have to remain alone and without a spouse because his love for his people trumped his "right" to personal happiness. St. Ignatius may have to get chewed up by lions because his love for the eternal trumped his "right" to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

When it comes to God, we don't have any rights. We only have a calling. When I think about "rights", I think about how I am being wronged. When I think about my neighbor, I am thinking about what God is calling me to do to love them more.

Monday, March 16, 2015

On becoming a meme on a stripper pole

Apparently tired of meme-ing the cat, Jennifer has turned her sights on me and unleashed the fury of the internet on my image. We were in Kansas City last summer visiting a start-up incubator that had a green screen.



I'm not sure exactly what that pose is supposed to be, but it has proven to be much more versatile than I anticipated. It began as a simple picture of me destroying the earth.


Or, perhaps I was avoiding it. One friend has suggested that I was merely "raising the roof" while the earth collapsed. Avi had his fun next.


Something there is that doesn't like a mime meme, and this looks all too suspiciously like a mime meme. You'll have to look at the next one closely. I missed it the first time.


I'm apparently providing both moral and other kinds of support for this poor woman. That bit of fun was followed by the following offering. I'm not sure if I am supposed to be touching the dinosaur or running frantically. It reads both ways. I do like ferns.



Here I am holding up Beethoven on an organ keyboard. I think I am trying to throw him off WWE style. Note my right hand holding him by his deaf ear as my feet deftly play a G to start the 5th symphony.


This was followed by a confluence of memes. The "Panda is not amused" series has me holding up a light pole.


The light pole proved not interesting enough for one of Jennifer's colleagues who put me on a stripper pole instead. If you look closely at my right hand, he has clearly added lady fingers to my arm.


It's all a little bit like a fugue to me. The subject just keeps getting flipped around and inserted into different contexts that let you reinterpret it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New linguistic saw

My wife's business has a customer whose name is Lincoln. That's funny because he lives in Lincoln. If I knew two Lincolns, and one lived in Omaha, I would call this one the Lincoln Lincoln.

If he drove a certain kind of car, I would say, "Look, there is the Lincoln Lincoln's Lincoln."

If his car had a website and went viral, Lincoln Lincoln could put a link to it on his LinkedIn Profile. Then I would say, "Lincoln Lincoln's Lincoln is linked in Lincoln Lincoln's LinkedIn page."