Last Sunday was Johann Sebastian Bach's 336th birthday, and of course, our celebrated Heinrich Christensen prepared a magnificent virtual gift concert for him, featuring some of Bach's own gifts to the world.
In a prerecorded YouTube concert, Heinrich played the Chorale Partita on Sei Gegrüsset, BWV 768, the Trio sonata in E flat Major, BWV 525, and the Concerto in d minor, BWV 596, which Bach transcribed for organ from Antonio Vivaldi's original Concerto for 2 violins and orchestra.
Heinrich performed, video recorded, and edited the concert (any one of which tasks would've been a challenge) and then hosted a post-concert virtual "Bacchanal"reception, during which his musical friends and he mulled over wine and the music. While it would have been wonderful to hear it in person, everyone agreed that there were benefits to the YouTube version. Through his creative filming and mixing, we were able to see Heinrich's hands, feet, and face during the concert, and as we watched and listened, he commented live in the Chat portion of the screen. Beautiful still shots of details of King's Chapel were inserted in the video.
In his introduction, Heinrich reflected on this mode of solo music-making: spending months all on one's own in the Church practicing, and then performing and recording without an audience. It did not feel like a normal recital, but more like a video diary.
Here are some of Heinrich's Chat notes, which were informal and very interesting:
He explained that he had chosen the gorgeous Chorale Partita, a gentler, more meditative piece than some, especially for this format of hearing the concert on our computers, and perhaps not wanting to have a blast of sound coming at us. He made comments about the organ registrations and stops (eg: Flutes 8 ad 4 on choir, Swell Flute 4, etc.) for his fellow organists in the audience. At one point, the camera revealed that his right hand was playing a duet (the solo melody became a duet).
Bach wrote his Trio Sonatas as practice pieces for his son Wilhelm Friedemann. "These sonatas are a delight to practice and play but very scary to perform, since each line is completely exposed to the merciless scrutiny of the listener!" On this piece he did especially interesting camera work, the three cameras showing his right and left hands and his feet on the pedals, all in one frame.
During the Concerto in d minor, he commented on the acoustic in King's Chapel, that "everything sounds very clear and non-reverberative, which keeps you honest". Funny thing, I've never thought that Heinrich Christensen needed to be kept honest. His playing is impeccable.
If you missed the concert, not to worry. You can go onto the King's Chapel YouTube page and enjoy it:
Sylvia Soderberg, Music Committee Chair
Sunday's Morning Prayer Service
Tune in to the Morning Prayer video to see our choir gathered virtually around the Advent wreath to sing "O Come, Emmanuel," which also inspired the organ voluntaries by Hampton and Pinkham.
Tenor Sam Rosner will sing "Comfort Ye" from Handel's Messiah in reflection of Joy's sermon message, and at the end of the service, we will sing this week's hymn from the Advent devotional, "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus."
Visit our First Week of Advent Page to sing along with the King's Chapel Choir's version of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!"
Monday Meditations will be on a hiatus for the month of December. Instead, we offer an Advent calendar of seasonal choral gems on the King's Chapel Choir Facebook page. We hope you will make it part of your daily routine to spend a few minutes listening to some beautiful selections from all around the world, as we prepare for Christmas celebrations.
Listen to the playlist of the Monday Musical Meditations on our YouTube channel.
Talk About Music!
Next week's Talk About Music features choir member Emily Bieber-Harris who will talk about some of her home recording projects during quarantine and lockdown. You can see a bunch of them here.
And a word of fair warning: Our final Talk About Music of the year, on December 15, will be a very special edition of Talk About Music I Love. You are all invited to talk about your favorite Christmas carol - tell us all which carol you love the most, and why!
You can watch the recordings of the past Talk About Music sessions on our YouTube channel.
Last Sunday's Virtual Recital
In case you missed last Sunday's YouTube premiere of French Competition: A Flute and Piano Recital:
Our Music in the Time of Covid project is complete - last month, Graham Gordon Ramsay and Heinrich recorded the 5th and final Introspection. You can watch it here:
Here are Graham's program notes for the end of the series:
Introspections #5: The Final Movement
Completed on August 10, 2020, the fifth introspection is the last in the series that began last April. I started work on this movement on July 16 during a short personal retreat in Rockport, Massachusetts. Removed from my urban Cambridge home and distanced slightly from the tensions related to the pandemic and political strife, I embarked on this trip with the goal of bringing my mind into a more peaceful state.
Marked “Poignantly, rubato throughout”, this movement picks up from the previous one (which ends with a low pedal note C), beginning in C major with a sparse and simple melody that recurs as the main theme throughout. Acting as the denouement for the entire work, this movement serves as a self-reminder that there is always resolution after conflict, that positive change is inevitable after times of discord, and that there will always be things bigger and more important than my own personal angst. Perspective is difficult during times of strife, but I believe it is essential, particularly during the bad times, to remind ourselves of the beauty and wonder of the world.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to Heinrich Christensen for his constant friendship and musical support throughout this project (and so many others). His willingness to take risks with new and unknown works is a gift of immeasurable value. Tak skal du have.
--G.G.R., November 10, 2020
Director of Music at King's Chapel
In the love of truth, and the spirit of Jesus Christ, we unite for the worship of God
and the service of all.
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