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Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • New Piano Method Books from Stephen Chatman: Mix & Match

    Galaxy Music recently welcomed the new Mix and Match performance method series from dynamic duo, Stephen Chatman and Tara Wohlberg. The series is designed as a rare, innovative mix-and-match complement to any standard piano method book. We sat down with composer Stephen Chatman to learn more about the vision behind Mix and Match.

    1. What was the inspiration behind Mix and Match?

    The audio tracks include both demo and play-along tracks for each piece. The best way to use this tool may be for the student to first listen to the demo recording of the duet, then learn the student part, and then play-along with the version which includes only the teacher's part. The student may play the piece as a solo or live duet with a teacher, friend or family member.

    2. What makes these performance books unique from other performance series?

    Several factors make these performance books unique:
    1)  These books are a unique supplement to current method books, which systematically re-enforce pedagogical concepts.
    2)  Through original pieces and arrangements, I explore an eclectic sonic world, where students can play, for example, Happy Birthday (the first level 1 piano  arrangement ever published) or sample a folk song, boogie, rag, minuet, Christmas carol or an arrangement of an timeless classic. Given my reputation as a composer and composition teacher, the original pieces are not typical pedagogical pieces. They are fresh, innovative and less conventional or predictable than pieces in other performance series.
    3) The teacher duets, designed as concert pieces, are uniquely imaginative, harmonically rich, and engaging. Teacher accompaniments, while sometimes complex, are idiomatic and "audience friendly".
    4) The performance books loosely correspond in pedagogical approach to popular method books. However, they include very little written text, which would be redundant considering texts in existing method books.
    5) The Mix and Match for Older Beginners book is a rare, essential addition to pedagogical repertoire.

    3. Who is the Mix and Match series designed for?

    The Mix and Match series is designed not only for any young beginner and level 1 piano student but also for any older beginner and level 1 piano student.  The Mix and Match for Older Beginners (primer and level 1) performance book omits illustrations designed for children, young childrens' themes or songs, and "pre-notation" pieces. Adult beginners really appreciate this album.

    4. The series comes with audio tracks. What is the best way to use this tool?

    The audio tracks include both demo and play-along tracks for each piece. The best way to use this tool may be for the student to first listen to the demo recording of the duet, then learn the student part, and then play-along with the version which includes only the teacher's part. The student may play the piece as a solo or live duet with a teacher, friend or family members.

    To learn more about Mix and Match, click here. 

  • Interview with Luke Mayernik: The Five Graces Psalter

    Luke Mayernik

    Luke Mayernik's Five Graces Psalter is a collection of Responsorial Psalms for the entire three-year Lectionary cycle, and a welcome and worthy addition to the repertoire of Lectionary Psalms. The award-winning composer and organist has crafted memorable settings infused with harmonic freshness and melodic appeal—settings that bear the weight of the emotion and liturgical importance of the psalms.

    When did you start composing?

    Luke and Kassidy Mayernik

    As a child, I started taking piano lessons around the age of 8.  In just a few short years, I was already re-arranging and discovering chord substitutions for all of the piano music Beryl Flemming (my piano teacher) would assign to me.  Every Wednesday evening I would to her house for my weekly lesson, excited to share my "improvements" of classical/contemporary staples - oh, she was quite furious and flustered by my musical changes, but I was never discouraged by her anger.  Beryl lived to be 105 years old, teaching many people over 80+ years to play the piano.  I will always be thankful for her guidance, support, and her patience (which was tested every week by yours truly!).

    What do you know about composing now that you wish you had known earlier?

    To be completely honest, what has been instilled in me during graduate school is the power of the rest and rhythmic gesture.  Before coming to, and ultimately graduating from, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, much of my musical elements within any given composition began right on the downbeat, and often remained that way throughout!  A rest at the beginning of a phrase can provide so much movement, beauty, and clarity to phrases.  Like a great orator, a pause or breath in the right place can strengthen the composer's rhetoric and support the overall musical narrative. When in doubt, put in a rest!

    What first made you interested in setting the entire lectionary psalm cycle?

    Two words:  Michel Guimont.  Michel's sincere musical language profoundly impacted me as a young liturgical composer and musician; his gift of melody, harmony, and clarity truly shaped my own musical voice over the years. Published by GIA, Michel's Lectionary Psalms is a significant and highly celebrated resource that I continually use as a guidepost, teacher, and spring of musical inspiration to this day.  At an early age, I knew that a comprehensive lectionary psalter was the one (and main) contribution I wanted to make as a liturgical composer.  Back in 2007, I started to pen the first few psalm settings at the age of 26. Michel came to West Virginia in 2009 to lead a workshop regarding the psalms, where I was in my second year of serving as Cathedral Organist at St. Joseph's in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.   Reviewing the few settings I had already completed (and are now included in the publication of The Five Graces Psalter), Michel genuinely encouraged my compositional efforts to continue; ten years later (and after many revisions and rewrites), The Five Graces Psalter was finished.

    What is your method for writing a refrain melody?

    It is extremely important to me to first understand what type of psalm it is (A Royal psalm, a lament, Song of Ascent, etc.) before I begin to musically set the text. Secondly, I speak the text aloud, memorizing the text in its entirety.  This method illumines the natural prosody of the psalm.  Then comes the actual musical crafting, which usually begins with improvised singing first.  The harmony is worked out at the piano in the final stages of musical crafting.

    How do you know when something is "finished"?

    Funny you should ask that!  There are actually two psalm refrain settings within The Five Graces Psalter that could have been set slightly differently, in my opinion.  The other day my wife and I sang these respective psalms as they are presented in The Five Graces Psalter, and with the changes.  When we voted, the results proffered an even tie!  Finished?  How I wrestle with these thoughts, even to this day.

    Five Graces Psalter

    What are the three most important things you want liturgical musicians to know about this volume of psalms?

    1) The Five Graces Psalter has been specifically crafted to suit traditional and contemporary parish music programs, equally.
    2) These settings can be used during the Liturgy of the Word, at the Communion Procession, and many of them include the Alleluia refrain option, which could make a nice Gospel Acclamation!
    3) With accompaniments tailored for organ, piano, guitar, and instrumentalists, the memorable refrains and melodic psalm tones are designed to inspire and encourage a singing assembly!

    What would you say to liturgical musicians who have never tried having a choir sing verses of a responsorial psalm?

    First, have your choir speak each respective phrase of a verse, underlining the emphasized words of each phrase with a pencil. Then, have your choral ensemble chant that verse together in unison with a natural speech pattern; you may even want to do this by part or section as well, either in unison or in parts.  Pretty soon, your choir will be excited to sing the harmonies of these psalm tones week after week!

    Click here to learn more about The Five Graces Psalter.

  • Convention Review: NPM Sponsorship Sessions & Events

    The 2017 National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Convention was a busy and successful event for MorningStar Music. It was great to meet new colleagues and to see familiar faces! For a review of sessions led by President Mark Lawson and Editor Kelly Dobbs-Mickus, along with the corresponding repertoire featured at each session, check out the list below. Click the links for handouts and more information about featured works performed and highlighted at the convention, including PDF and audio samples.


    Accessible Music for Parish Choirs with MorningStar Music
    Kelly Dobbs-Mickus; Accompanist Preston Dibble
    Music for use with modest resources. Quality selections in a variety of styles, voicing, and instrumentation that cover the church year.
    Click here for a list of music featured at this reading session.

    New Choral Music from MorningStar
    Kelly Dobbs-Mickus; Accompanist Preston Dibble
    MorningStar presented quality music for the church year in a variety of styles, voicings, and instrumentation.
    Click here for a list of music featured at this reading session.

    Music for Advanced Choirs with ECS Publishing Group
    Mark Lawson; Accompanist Jennifer Pascual
    Music for the intermediate to advanced choir from this leading publisher of classical repertoire.
    Click here for a list of music featured at this reading session.

    The Five Graces Psalter by Luke Mayernik: A Unique New Resource for Lectionary Psalms
    Luke Mayernik, Kelly Dobbs-Mickus, Joe Simmons, Kassidy Mayernik
    Participants sang through several psalms, heard from Luke about his composing work, and learned about the new publishing approach.
    Click here to learn about The Five Graces Psalter.
    Click here for the session handout.

    Breakout Sessions

    Jack of All Trades vs. King of Instruments, Part 1 & 2
    Kelly Dobbs-Mickus
    A two-part session for beginning and intermediate organists with a focus on repertoire for manuals and minimal pedal as a tool for developing skills for more effective playing, from hymns and service music to organ solo pieces.
    Click here for the session handout.

    Christ Will Be Your Way, Your Truth, Your Life
    Lynn Trapp
    Repertoire for the Sacraments and Rites of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
    Click here for a list of music featured at this session.

    Choral Classics Every Choir Should Know
    Mark Lawson and Panel
    Panelists Tony DiCello, Jennifer Pascual, Rick Gibala, and Preston Dibble—moderated by Mark Lawson—discussed sacred choral staples, including what makes a classic a classic, what pieces they return to year after year and why, and what choirs can learn from classics.
    Click here for a list of music featured at this session.
    Click here for the session handout.

    Evening Concert

    University of Notre Dame Children's Choir, Mark Doerries, Conductor

    Notre Dame Children’s Choir
    Conducted by Mark Doerries
    Mark and the Notre Dame Children’s Choir (who participated all week in the Children’s Choir Director Institute) performed an ecumenical program highlighted by a participatory Vespers service for congregation, choir, cantor, and jazz trio.
    Click here for information about our University of Notre Dame Children's Choir Series.

    New Lectionary Psalms Volume

    The Five Graces Psalter: Lectionary Psalms by Luke Mayernik
    This complete set of Responsorial Psalms for the 3-year Lectionary cycle from award-winning composer Luke Mayernik is an essential new resource for both traditional and contemporary parish music programs. The settings are memorable, infused with harmonic freshness and melodic appeal. The Psalm tones are crafted for SATB choir as well as cantors. Separate choral editions are available in print and download versions. Vocal or instrumental descants enhance many refrains. Effective accompaniments for piano or organ, with optional guitar. Available in both print and download editions.
    80-416, $39.95
    Click here for more information about this work.

    Opening hymn at Thursday's Eucharist

    Our Many Voices and Each Heart by James Biery
    Scored for SATB, Assembly, Brass Quartet, Organ with opt. Timpani
    This hymn setting was commissioned for Thursday’s Convention Eucharist and features a new text by Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB. James Biery’s creative arrangement of the well-loved tune KINGSFOLD for assembly, choir, organ, brass and timpani was perfect for this “big” liturgy, but it is also suitable for “smaller” situations.
    60-6018, $1.95
    Click here for more information about this work.



  • A Dog's Life — Daron Hagen's film score commission

    The Wintergreen Music Festival commissioned Daron Hagen to compose a new sixty-minute orchestral score for the silent Charlie Chaplin classic film, A Dog's Life. The world premiere, scheduled for July 28, 2017, will be conducted by Festival Artistic Director Erin Freeman.

    Charlie Chaplin and the dog

    A Dog's Life (1918) is an American short silent film, starring writer and producer Charlie Chaplin. The film features Scraps, a dog, as Chaplin's co-star and hero.

    This year marks Daron Hagen's third season as Chair of the Wintergreen Music Academy Composition Program. As part of this project, twelve composers spend two weeks on Wintergreen Mountain, composing and working directly with Hagen and composer faculty member, Gilda Lyons.

    During Hagen's term as Chair, he composed another score for the Charlie Chaplin film The Tramp. The twelve composers participating in the two-week retreat will create a new score to The Vagabond. 

    Source: A Dog's Life — Daron Hagen

  • World Premiere at Wintergreen Music Festival — Daron Hagen

    Wintergreen Summer Music Academy faculty members violoncellist Sarah Kapps and pianist Peter Marshall will give the world premiere Daron Hagen's Sonata for Cello and Piano as part of the 2017 Wintergreen Music Festival. The performance is scheduled for July 27, 2017.

    To learn more about the concert, click here.

    Sarah Krapps

    Cellist Sarah Kapps has an active and diverse musical background that has taken her across much of the globe as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral member, and rock star. As a performer, she is a sought after and respected chamber musician, often being called on to perform new works.  She regularly appears with Atlanta’s avant garde ensemble, Bent Frequency, Paramount Chamber Players, Music on the Hill, as well as countless self-produced chamber and solo concerts.  Her first concert of 2015 was a self-conducted concerto performance from the solo seat.  In the summers, she has been a long-time member of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, Chamber Players, and Academy faculty.  She was a founding member of the Red River and Denali String Quartets, and later came to serve on the faculty at The University of Texas Pan-American. Sarah Kapps holds degrees from The Manhattan School of Music and The Mannes College of Music, and has studied with Paul Tobias and Peter Wiley of the Guarneri Quartet. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, pianist Peter Marshall.

    Peter Marshall

    Known throughout the Southeast for his astonishing versatility and expressiveness at the keyboard, Peter Marshall performs on piano, harpsichord, and organ. He has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras in Atlanta, Washington, D. C. (National Symphony), Richmond, Norfolk (Virginia Symphony), Buffalo, Columbus (OH), and Charlotte, and has given solo recitals in the United States and abroad. Marshall holds the Hugh and Jessie Hodgson Keyboard Chair at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and performs numerous concerts with the ASO throughout the year. Active as an accompanist and coach in Atlanta since 1993, he is in frequent demand as a keyboardist in vocal and instrumental recitals and in chamber music. He has appeared with the cutting-edge contemporary ensembles Bent Frequency and Sonic Generator; with the Southeastern Festival of Song; at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival; and with the period instrument ensembles Hesperus, Folger Consort, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, and Grande Bande Baroque Orchestra. Marshall joined the faculty of the Georgia State University School of Music in 2001. He holds degrees from Oberlin College and Yale University and studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck as a Fulbright Scholar.

  • Apple Hill String Quartet performs Kareem Roustom

    The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music celebrates their 47th year with a Gala Fundraiser concert on July 25, 2017, featuring a performance of Traces by Kareem Roustom. The work, originally co-commissioned in 2013 by the Apple Hill Center, will be performed by the Apple Hill String Quartet, Kinan Azmeh (clarinet), and Sally Pinkas (piano).

    The Apple Hill String Quartet commits their performance to that of new works. Since its founding in 20007, the ensemble has earned worldwide praise for its concerts of both traditional repertoire and newly commissioned music. The Apple Hill String Quartet has devoted themselves to educational outreach, including their Playing for Peace outreach program focusing on social change and conflict resolution through music.

    About Traces, as written by Kareem Roustom

    "Since the beginning of the popular uprising in Syria and the subsequent government crackdown, which was the catalyst for the current civil there, all of my concert music works have reflected on that situation. Traces, which is the largest work in this series, is a meditation on loss: both the loss of people and infrastructure as well the loss of a sense of place and connection that one has with a place. On the formal level, Traces takes its title and inspiration from a genre of pre-Islamic poetry that often begins with the poet and his companions returning to a desert campsite where his beloved lives only to find that the camp has been broken and all its inhabitants have moved to another site that is unknown to the poet. All that is left behind are al-atlaal or traces, of the site’s former inhabitants. Arguably, the most famous of this genre of poetry is Al-Mua’llaqa by Imru’ al-Qyas (d. 542 A.D.). The opening lines that most reflect the spirit of Traces are below:

    Halt, my two friends. Let us weep, recalling a beloved and an abode by the edge of the twisted sands...
    The encampment traces have not yet been effaced for all the weaving by the winds from the north and south...
    There my companions halted their beasts awhile over me, saying, "Don’t die of grief; show some restraint!"
    Yet the cure for my sorrow is indeed an outpouring of tears. But is there, among disappearing remains, a prop for me?
    Traces Traces LMP021

    One of the basic melodic themes of Traces is based on an old nationalistic song that was often broadcast on television during my childhood in Damascus. The song, called Oh Syria my beloved (Suriya ya habibati) is in a maqam, or scale, called Kurd and begins with a melodic line that descends by whole steps and then cadences to the lower tonic with a triplet figure. This song, and the very nationalistic video that accompanied it, was an annoyance to my siblings and me because it often delayed our after-school cartoon programs. Because of its constant re-airing, it carved out an indelible part of my auditory memory; but its nationalistic overtones were never ones that I connected with, and for many years its memory was buried in my subconscious. However, after civilian deaths began mounting in Syria, I came across a reinterpretation of this song, made by a Syrian percussionist based in Europe, that was scored for clarinet and marimba. This re-imagined version of this song was full of grief and sadness, and it took on a whole new meaning. Like the poem of Imru’ al-Qays, it became a meditation on loss as I watched the place I once called home, and my memory of it, disintegrate, leaving behind only traces of what once was." - Kareem Roustom

    Learn more about the summer concert series here: Apple Hill Concerts

  • Robert Kyr - Composer-in-residence at Walden School

    Robert Kyr Robert Kyr

    The Walden School Young Musicians Program’s composer-in-residence Robert Kyr, the chair of the composition department at the University of Oregon, will be joining the school for a discussion of his work on Sunday, July 30th, in the Fountain Arts Building on the campus of The Dublin School.

    The Walden School, founded in 1972, is an acclaimed summer music school and festival offering programs that emphasize creative application, specifically through the study of musicianship, improvisation, and composition. In residence on the beautiful campus of the Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire, the school provides an inspiring retreat-like environment ideal for creative music making. The School’s programs include the Young Musicians Program for students ages 9 to 18, the Teacher Training Institute for music educators, and the Creative Musicians Retreat for adults.

    Robert Kyr, has composed twelve symphonies, three chamber symphonies, three violin concerti, and numerous works for vocal ensemble of all types, both unaccompanied and accompanied, including many large-scale works for which he wrote or co-wrote the text, including: A Time for Life (an environmental oratorio, 2007); The Passion according to Four Evangelists (1995); and three choral symphonies—From Creation Unfolding (No. 8, 1998), The Spirit of Time (No. 9, 2000), and Ah Nagasaki: Ashes into Light (No. 10, 2005). Many of his works are inspired by the problems of war and peace – for example, he envisioned and implemented ‘Waging Peace through Singing’ (2000-02), a global initiative that encouraged the creation and dissemination of an international repertoire of choral music composed on peace-related texts. Kyr holds a BA from Yale University, an MA from The University of Pennsylvania, an a PhD from Harvard University, and has held teaching positions in composition and theory at Yale University, UCLA, Hartt School of Music, and Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Aspen Music School, and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Source: Presentation by Robert Kyr, composer-in-residence

  • James Eakin joins faculty of Centenary College of Louisiana

    Dr. James Eakin has joined the faculty of the Centenary College of Louisiana Hurley School of Music as professor of theory and composition.

    Hurley School of Music

    Eakin has been a composer-in-residence with the Turtle Creek Chorale, Resounding Harmony, and The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.  His compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas. He has recently scored such films as Cut to the ChaseSugar, and Visible Scars.  His composition #twitterlieder, performed by the Virginia Chorale, is currently in production for a PBS documentary.

    James Eakin James Granville Eakin III

    Eakin received his Bachelor of Music from Centenary College in 2000, his Master of Music from Southern Methodist University and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City. A well-known choral composer, Eakin studied at the Aspen Music Festival and School’s Center for Composition Studies before becoming the Electronic Music Studio Coordinator and eventually the Director of the Film Scoring Program there in 2008.

    Source: Centenary announces two new faculty members at Hurley School of Music | Centenary College of Louisiana

  • Little Patuxent Opera Institute Performs Too Many Sopranos

    The Little Patuxent Opera Institute (LPOI) offers training for moderately advanced young operatic voices in a warm and nurturing collegiate environment. To succeed in the professional opera field, aspiring singers must master many skills. The program is designed to introduce participants to and enhance the development of their skills, while providing valuable, meaningful performance opportunities and experience.

    Students receive group and private instruction on the various elements of operatic performance and classical vocal arts, including character development, technique, stage movement and blocking, and a broad spectrum of classes related to professional development and health. In addition, participants learn from and study under a number of highly respected local, regional, and internationally recognized artists.
    TOo Many Sopranos

    Too Many Sopranos

    Composed by Edwin Penhorwood, Libretto by Miki Lynn

    Four Divas arrive in heaven to learn there is not enough room for all of them in the Heavenly Chorus. Because too many tenors and basses are in Hell, only one of the sopranos will be allowed into the chorus. The sopranos are appalled that they must audition, but submit. After their impressive auditions, St. Peter cannot make a decision. Gabriel therefore mentions the Redemption Clause: If the sopranos go to Hell and do a selfless deed, they can bring back to Heaven as many tenors and basses as needed. To protect them in Hell, St. Peter grants them a special disguise.

    The Divas, St. Peter, and Gabriel arrive in Hell and listen to the stories of some of the tortured souls there. Just Jeanette meets Nelson Deadly and they fall in love. The Sandman arrives with the stage director, Orson and presents a task to the couple: If they don't fall asleep listening to Orson, they can take back to Heaven as many tenors and basses as they want. They fail the test, but because of a selfless act on their part, they are granted the release of the men. There is general rejoicing and all promise St. Peter they will never sing opera again.

    For more information about the opera, click here.

    Source: Little Patuxent Opera Institute | Howard Community College

  • Being Frank: On Composing "Shining Brow" by Daron Hagen

    Daron Hagen and Paul Muldoon Daron Hagen (Left) & Paul Muldoon (Right)

    “Can a man be a faithful husband and father and still be true to his Art?”

    The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday. As organizations across the country celebrate the birth of this great American architect, E. C. Schirmer turns to the opera Shining Brow, composed by Daron Hagen with libretto by Paul Muldoon.

    Shining Brow centers around the 11 tumultuous years (1903-1914) in the young career of American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The episodes include the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago with Louis Sullivan (Wright's former mentor), a construction site in Oak Park, Illinois, Berlin, Germany, and finally Taliesin (Wright's estate in Wisconsin) where many of the most tragic events of Wright's life are played out. This opera in two acts was commissioned by the Madison Opera, a division of the Madison Civic Music Association. The composer was officially authorized by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the Taliesin Fellowship to compose the opera and to have it published.

    Daron Hagen is an avid contributor to Huffington Post. In this article, Hagen details the history behind the composition of his very first opera. Hagen and Muldoon took to the task of exploring Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Mamah Cheney, along with the "intersection of Life and Art, self-actuation and selfishness." The Madison Opera premiered the work in April 1993.

    Read the article in its entirety here: Being Frank: On Composing "Shining Brow" | HuffPost

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