Major Milestone!

Major Milestone!

(Original posting 7/11/2017) Although much work remains, the first draft of my Easter cantata,  Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding, is now complete! This is a significant milestone towards completing this cantata, submitting my master’s thesis, and graduation. It’s been a seven-month journey so far and I’m only a couple of weeks behind my planned schedule. So praise God for His faithfulness!

The piece just completed is a resurrection setting called, “Why?”. The title derives from the angel’s question to the women who were first to view the empty tomb in Luke 24:5, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”. The question is set as soprano solo over a high B pedal tone with eerie accompaniment from pitched percussion and woodwinds in a nebulous key center with some biting dissonance. Full chorus and orchestra then joins in a major key to proclaim, “He is not here, He is risen!”. I think the piece works, but it’s hard to be objective. Nevertheless, I pray that this piece does justice to this foundational story of Christianity.

So, the first 90% of the work is done and all that’s left is the second 90% of the work (That’s an old project management joke, folks), like proofreading, editing, second-guessing, lots of listening and tweaking, etc. etc. etc.) The plan is to have all this finished by the end of August for submission to my advisor. Then SWBTS will let me take comprehensive exams in October and I’ll finally have this degree completed!

And you know, keep in mind that I’d like to program a performance of this work in 2018. So . . . if anyone is intrigued by the thought of presenting this cantata then let that seed sprout, keep watching here for news updates, and get in touch.

John Ness Beck Choral Composers’ Workshop

John Ness Beck Choral Composers’ Workshop

(Original posting 6/19/2017) Last week was spent in Greenville, S.C. at the John Ness Beck Choral Composers’ Workshop, sponsored by Beckenhorst Press and hosted at the gorgeous First Presbyterian Church of Greenville. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (well, maybe twice!) that was a blessing to experience. As I was contemplating writing a synopsis of the week a news item came across my screen from one of my colleagues and new friend from the workshop, Joel Snyder, who beat me to the punch. Can’t do a better job than Joel did, so here is his recap of the week’s events:
https://solfasounds.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/my-recap-of-the-composers-workshop-2/

Keep up with Joel on his blog at: https://solfasounds.wordpress.com/

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding Update – June 1

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding Update – June 1

(Original posting 6/1/2017) Progress, yes!  First draft of the crucifixion setting (Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding) is complete. Some of it I really like and some I’m not so sure about. Here’s a brief sample of the orchestral opening https://soundcloud.com/wheatmyermusic/wounded-bleeding-still-proceeding-orchestra-opening-clip. Listen for “borrowed” harmonies from Rachmaninoff. Time to set this on the back burner to let those uncertainties simmer while work begins on the one remaining movement, the resurrection! I plan to call this movement, “Why?” It will be based on the angel’s question in Luke 24:5, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” I plan to utilize a strong contrast between a dissonantly vague key center section set against a strong major key declaration of “He is risen!” to portray the astonishing news that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!

It’s almost summer, and you know what that means, right?

It’s almost summer, and you know what that means, right?

(Original posting 5/25/2017)  Well, here comes Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, and a long, long, summer it will be here in Texas. It’s time for bare feet, cook outs, baseball, tank tops, road trips, and all that goes with hot weather! Of course, Memorial Day is far more important than that and this website is a great spot to catch up on the somber significance of the day. But the beginning of summer also means it’s time to select your music for the coming Advent and Christmas season. You have started thinking about your Christmas music, haven’t you? May I offer a few suggestions? Here are four new and distinct options for four different forces that would fit well in your service and concert programming.

Lo, a Rose – for SATB chorus and piano. A somber and contemplative setting of the traditional carol, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. You’ll find this a lovely treatment of the tune and text that won’t tax your rehearsal time. This arrangement is moderately easy but allows good musicianship to shine. The light and delicate accompaniment, with hauntingly beautiful harmonies, directs the focus onto the text while providing just the right amount of color and interest. Thus, “Lo, a Rose,” allows a choir to demonstrate artistic merit without enduring exhaustive preparations. The setting portrays that the light and salvation brought to us by the Rose was achieved via a bitter and sorrowful path.
Listen and purchase on Swirly music here.

The FIrst Noel – for solo piano. This setting of the beloved Christmas carol applies fresh and distinctive harmonies to the traditional melody. A haunting, and slightly dissonant, introduction sets a contemplative mood that heralds a unique approach to the carol. The A sections contain lush harmonies and delicate lyrical phrases which contrast with the syncopated and ornamented melody of the up tempo B section. The work is within the grasp of the intermediate to advanced pianist without extensive rehearsal but still contains sufficient challenge to provide a rewarding experience for performer and listener alike. THE FIRST NOEL is an excellent piece for offertory, instrumental praise, candlelight service, or any occasion reflecting on the miracle of Christ’s incarnation during the Christmas season.
Listen and purchase on Swirly music here.

Long Expected Jesus – for brass quintet. This fresh setting of the Welsh tune, HYFYRDOL, works perfectly for an offertory, prelude, or devotional function. Although written for the Advent season, the multiple familiar hymns set with this tune make the piece suitable throughout the church year. It is readily performed by high school or higher musicians yet still contains sufficient variety and artistic expression to be rewarding for even advanced performers. The familiar melody is stated clearly throughout and accompanied with interesting and sonorous harmonies so as to be accessible to all audiences.
Listen and purchase on Sheet Music Plus here.

Divinum Mysterium – for full orchestra. DIVINUM MYSTERIUM is the tune name we know by the hymn, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.” In this arrangement for full orchestra, the tune is woven together with CANTIQUE DE NOEL, or, “O, Holy Night,” in a compelling tapestry that captures the transcendence and the imminence of Christ’s birth. It would make a compelling addition to an orchestral Christmas program. Suitable for high school, college, or advanced church orchestras.
Listen on Sound Cloud here. Send me a note under CONTACT or in the comments below if you’re interesting in purchasing the score and parts or if you have questions.

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding Update

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding Update

(Original posting 5/21/2017) Well, with the finale (He Became Like Me) completed it’s time to move back to the two remaining unwritten movements in my Easter cantata. These will be the settings of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Of course, these are the two most daunting movements. It’s not the music that is intimidating, as I already know what I want to do, but the gravity of the subject matter as the two most important events in Christianity weighs heavily as a duty to set them well. First up will be the crucifixion setting, which will also include the Garden of Gethsemane and the trial, and will be called, Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding. It will feature tenor solo with SATB chorus. The harmonies selected for this piece are inspired by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s setting of Simeon’s Song, the “Nïne otpushchayeshi” from his All Night Vigil. Although somewhat camouflaged, the strings introduce Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding with “Nïne otpushchayeshi’s” opening swaying chords and the rocking motion carries on as underlying accompaniment to the melody. We shall see how it turns out!

On the Nature of Worship

On the Nature of Worship

(Original posting 5/18/2017) Just what is worship? Experience? Intense emotion? Exuberant physical expression? Eh, . . . not so much, at least not according to how the Bible portrays it, nor according to the meaning of the biblical words we translate into the English, worship. But let’s let Paul Clark, Jr. take a stab at explaining all that in this article, Hope for True Worship Rooted in the Living God. Plus, it’s worth reading for the wonderful 1829 baptismal hymn he quotes at the end! It would make a worthwhile project for someone to set to new music. I wonder who could do that, hmmm?

He Became Like Me

(Original posting 5/17/2017) In my last post I had just begun work on the final movement of my Easter cantata, which is a traditional choir anthem about substitutionary atonement and Christ’s call to discipleship titled, He Became Like Me. Well, while still preserving the right to make further editorial changes, I’m glad to announce that this piece is now complete! It is set for SATB chorus with piano and optional orchestral accompaniment. Although He Became Like Me is part of a full Passion setting, I plan to offer it as a standalone choral anthem as well in the near future. Click the link below for a MIDI sample of the orchestral accompaniment. Enjoy!
https://soundcloud.com/wheatmyermusic/he-became-like-me-orchestra