News & Reviews

This page features news in What's Up! (my regularly updated article), published Reviews from various sources, and Comments from those who've shared musical experiences with me.

What's Up!

September 20, 2006

A View from the Pool

Well, I survived all the work surrounding Transfiguration's Jubilee celebration last week. I know I have never worked that hard or that long for one service in my entire life! The last part of the last orchestration was finished just before 1:00 a.m. the day of the dress rehearsal. It was Flute 1 for Parry's I Was Glad. More on that later.

Last Wednesday night — one week ago as this is written — we hosted Bishop Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and champion of inclusion of all in God's kingdom. Since our church only seats around 500 people, we had two other venues to hold the 1,200 or so we were expecting: Roper Hall and the lower school gym. The campus closed down at 3 p.m., and we all moved our cars to Temple Shalom, located one major intersection to the south. Thank God our celebration wasn't during the High Holidays, or we would have been out of luck!

In order to keep the crowds occupied from the time that the doors to the church and parish hall opened at 6:00 p.m. until Bishop Tutu was to speak, we planned that the Transfiguration Choir and the Parish Singers (the high school choir from our Parish Episcopal School) would perform a 20-minute set of pieces in the two main venues, then switch and sing the set for the other congregation. We used "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" as the choirs moved from location to the other and to give the crowd a stretch break. I was in the church by then, and played our little 13-stop instrument which was resoundingly drowned out by the singing (well maybe not the one-third foot mixture located in my face!) and there wasn't any choir there! Since the church was full with most of our active and participatory parishioners, it wasn't too surprising that they really sang.

During the opening hymn, "God Is Love" (sung to Abbott's Leigh) Bishop Tutu came out, joined Fr. J.D. Godwin, our rector, in singing the tenor parts, and we were off and running. I do love the Episcopal Church!

Bishop Tutu was a bit more of a story-teller than I had imagined, but did finally get to a very strong message that God's intention has always been to include all people in the kingdom, and that that was reinforced by Jesus' actions and life. He also stressed the sin (and evil) in building up walls between each other and excluding those who are different from us - or even those who simply aren't "us." He also stressed the importance of finding a place of peace in one's life (and church), and letting the ripples of peace spread out to everything around you. Plus, he made a few pointed remarks about weapons of mass destruction not making the world any more peaceful. (He does not like G. Bush's actions very much - either!)

Our final hymn was reported to be Bishop Tutu's favorite (via Fr. Michael Merriman on our staff), "The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended" (St. Clement). He likes the concept of the praise of God never ending as the sun rises and sets on different parts of the world. I always have like that, too, so has JD, so we all were in a good place as we sang. The picture which follows is of the Bishop dancing with the children through the Gathering Space to the main reception held in a large white tent outside.

Bishop Tutu dancing with the children through the Gathering Space

We all went home feeling relieved that everything went well (I believe that this was the biggest logistical endeavor ever held on the Transfiguration campus), and that our celebratory week was off to such a good start.

Thursday and Friday were spent cranking out the remaining orchestrations for Sunday's "Festival of Faith" at the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson. One huge service (well, we hoped) instead of our four usual weekend liturgies. Originally, I had planned on using a small number of strings, a brass quintet and timpani. We actually owned instrumental parts for one of the hymn settings which had been mentioned - Vaughan William's The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune, so I consulted the score in June, saw flutes and oboes, and decided we'd best expand the orchestra for this piece, and to reinforce the strings to make up for the lack of an organ. (Yes, we had thought of going down to the Meyerson with the enormous and LOUD Fisk, but it's not really in the Fig's neck of the woods — 12.5 miles away.)

I was counting on renting orchestrations for two other pieces: RVW's Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs, and the fore-mentioned I Was Glad. The folks at ECS Publishing who handle RVW were great to work with, but the score called for clarinets which needed to be adapted into the other woodwind parts, and also had 4 horns plus 2 trumpets in F (yes, F, like baroque trumpets), trombone and tuba (well, bassoon, too, but that really wasn't going to happen). So, just as with the other RVW piece, all the winds and brass needed to be put into Finale, transposed to C, then re-scored for our instrumentation in order to cover all the parts.

The biggest issue in all this involved I Was Glad. Having played the full-fisted organ accompaniment a number of times, I was always under the impression that it WAS a transcription, since it LOOKED like a transcription (Personally, I hate playing transcriptions, as it always feels like one is leaving something out and "faking it." The composer in me likes to play what is on the page, honoring the composer's and/or judicious, stylistically-aware editor's intentions!!) Like much of the rental music, Novello, the original publisher is handled in the US by G. Schirmer, as are the rental scores of 43 other publishing conglomerates around the globe. Communication is by fax to a great extent, and getting anyone to really look at the various possibilities for rental, three in the case of I Was Glad, and tell someone a thousand miles away what would work best for his occasion was nigh to impossible. WE DIDN'T HAVE AN ORGAN, so I need something which didn't rely on the organ at all. What came was an orchestration (I refuse to name names…) which did rely on the organ, had odd string and brass writing, and just wasn't going to work.

Yes, I left this project until the end, but not because I wasn't working on parts for all the other 12 items that needed adaptation. So I began to search the internet with 8 days to go, in order to find some site which had a recording of the "original" orchestration. NOW, we think there really wasn't one for Edward VII's coronation, and the organ part was the original scoring! Sometime in the mid-20th century — for Elizabeth II's coronation, her father's, whatever — Gordon Jacob (of Brother James's Air fame) did a huge orchestration which Schirmer rents for Novello. We're talking HUGE! One of my friends sent an MP3 file from a recording of his so I could hear it, and that setting could blow the Queen (any queen!) right into the Thames with energy to spare. (Actually, they'd probably land in France, causing even more problems in world politic.) I also found an orchestration on Scorch, Sibelius' free site, which was helpful — better string writing, but had extensive use of the organ, no woodwinds, and the brass writing just wasn't quite right for my taste.

Vivat, Vivat!! (Actually my thoughts and words weren't uttered in Latin, and were not quite as polite). So, after it is all said and done, I did my own orchestration of the Parry, trying to keep the spirit and voicing of the anthem accompaniment, and keep from drowning out our choir of 55 or so. I plan to offer it for sale on the website, if anyone ever needs the scoring. I will check, but I assume, since it is 100+ years old, that the music is now public domain in the States.

I contracted with my cellist friend Gayane Manasjan Fullford, who hired an incredible orchestra composed of Dallas Opera, Fort Worth Symphony and other players, many of with whom I have worked over the years. We had a great dress rehearsal in our parish hall on Saturday morning (see the photo below), after the choir warmed up in the church (more photos below). Sunday began at 7 a.m. at the Eisemann unloading the truck and making the stage (photo below) a suitable place for worship. Everyone did a great job (my choirs are wonderful!), and the music came off without a hitch. Fr. Godwin preached an inspiring sermon which should keep us going for some time, in spite of the machinations of our wacky bishop and diocese.

Dress Rehearsal

Jubilee Choir Women

Jubilee Choir Men

Jubilee Preparation, The Eisemann Center Stage

The music was:

  • Prelude: 3 pieces for handbells, Antiphon - RVW, an anthem sung by our Jubilate Deo youth choir
  • Entrance Procession: I Was Glad - CHH Parry
  • Song of Praise: The Old Hundredth - RVW
  • Psalm: Plainsong Tone accompanied by Choir Chimes
  • Sequence Hymn: my new setting of Lift High the Cross (Crucifer)
  • Alleluia (to get the procession back): Missa Guadalupe
  • Offertory Anthem: The Invitation (orchestrated for winds, strings and horn)
  • Offertory Hymn: O Praise Ye the Lord (my OUP setting with strings and winds for the organ)
  • Sanctus: Missa Guadalupe
  • Fraction Anthem: Come, Rise Lord (Rosedale)
  • Communion: Vision of Peace (from Cycle of Peace) - bells and clarinet, another anthem by Jubilate Deo, God Gives Us a Future (King's Weston) (the text is from the Australian hymnal)
  • Dismissal Hymn: Go Forth for God (Lytton)
  • Procession Out: Chorale "Now Thank We All Our God" from Cantata No. 79 - J. S. Bach

Are you tired yet? I think I lost 5 pounds in sweat alone.

Fr. J.D. Godwin and I at the Eisemann Center

So, I got up at 5:30 a.m. today and begin work on various aspects (read "lists") of this website. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a morning person, but, I guess one thing I learned from these last intensive six weeks, is that it sure feels good to finish things! I also learned that two defective memory modules on one's PC wreaks havoc like nothing else and makes your PC seem like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on a good day. Fixed that issue over Labor Day weekend, and am ready for anything.

Keep checking back to the website. I am getting a lot ready to be put up, so Michael Medley, my designer, should be changing things fairly rapidly in the next few weeks.

I hope to have two pieces self-published in the next month, as well, depending upon the speed of my printer. Will keep everyone posted.

Happy autumn!

— Joel

Read The What's Up! Archives


Reviews & Comments

Joel Martinson's Compositions

Agnus Dei/Cordero de Dios (from Missa Guadalupe)

Attractive setting of the "Lamb of God," in Latin and Spanish, from the composer's Missa Guadalupe. Easy.

CrossAccent, the journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, January 1996

Perfect for SSA! If you've contemplated starting a treble choir, this selection may be just that extra nudge you need. Suggested use is soprano/tenor on melody, alto/bass harmony, descant for soprano or C instrument. Latin and Spanish texts are given. This is very usable service music that is pleasing for the listener and an avenue for expression for the singer.

— Joy Lamb · Worship Arts, a publication of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship Arts, May–June 1996


Here is a newly published composer on the rise! Mr. Martinson, Director of Music at Saint Rita Catholic Community in Dallas, sets this Spanish Christmas carol using only one Spanish word, Alepun. It is a word whose repetition may suggest the trotting hoofs or jingling bells of the donkey as it made its way to Bethlehem. The excellent translation by Eleanor Walker and the rhythmic, driving accompaniment make this piece an excellent addition to any choir library. The carol is in verse refrain form, with a simple melody. The anthem is part of a series entitled "We Sing the World Round."

Pastoral Music Notebook, published by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, July 1995

Alepun and The Friendly Beasts

Joel Martinson's two unison carol settings are the best from Choristers Guild in this batch. Through the simple expedients of dividing children's voices by sex (boy/girl) and of writing imaginatively for the organ, fine effects are had by relatively inexperienced singers. Both are recommended.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, October 1995

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

Make no mistake — this is a processional anthem of tremendous proportions, in high festive mode. The text is most appropriate for Palm Sunday, although it would serve any feast day calling for extra exuberance.

Variety resides in every verse, and the whole is neatly packaged so that transitions work well and will not confuse the congregation. Some festive anthems add the congregation at the last verse only, the congregation plays a vital role here, even from the opening words. Martinson often assigns the melody to the congregation, while the choir sings an alternative harmonization or a descant. Alternatively, the trumpet plays an obbligato while the choral forces belt forth the melody.

One quieter moment occurs at stanza six as the choir sings of sorrow and passiontide. An alternative harmonization is present, and the organ falls silent. Some entrances are staggered, allowing for textural variety. Only in this stanza is the choral writing moderately challenging. After a triumphant "hosanna" closes out the verse (3/4 alternating with 6/8 - a welcome touch indeed!), the home stretch comes into view, leading to the expected fireworks of the final measures.

The keyboard part could be played on the piano; it cries out for a pipe organ and its powerful sound. Martinson has made this anthem more accessible, however, by writing only one brass part. The organ part could easily be transcribed for brass quintet, but more parishes will find this anthem within their reach if only one brass player is needed.

A part for trumpet in C is included (why no trumpet in Bb?), and a reproduceable [sic] congregation page is provided, complete with permission to photocopy. There is nothing earth shattering in this octavo, however, church choir directors will appreciate its balance of forces, ease of preparation, and pleasant challenges.

— Jeffrey Carter, School of Music, Ball State University, Muncie, IN · Choral Journal, March 2002

And the Word Became Flesh

Was Number 13 in "Select 20" list.

A lovely motet based on the appointed Gospel for the Sunday following Christmas Day. The setting is in a florid chant style, with interesting 20th century harmonic devices. Although the motet is not easily prepared, it is an especially poignant setting of this much-loved text. The printed octavo is also beautifully presented. A nice addition to the favorite setting of this text by Egil Hovland (The Glory of the Father-Walton).

Creator - The bimonthly Magazine of Balanced Music Ministries, September/October 1993

Arise, My Love

Joel Martinson's elegant Arise, my love breathes the same mauve pre-dawn atmosphere as Willan's much-loved setting, but Martinson has his own rich contribution to make to the text. This is a lovely addition to the repertoire, and I recommend it warmly.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, March 1997

Arise, Shine!

The organ part, on three staves, is busy and important to the character of this anthem. It has registration suggestions and is designated to be performed with a "Baroque legato." The choral music is on two staves is syllabic, chordal setting. There is some minimal divisi. The music is festive with a bravura character. Effective music and strongly recommended.

The Diapason, October 2002

That sense of the inevitable-surely the benchmark of genius-is triumphantly present from start to finish in Joel Martinson's Arise, Shine! There chromaticism, borrowed chords, and shifting tonal centers are so organic that the piece reads itself. This is a glorious, honest-to-goodness major anthem, truly worthy to stand beside such seasonal milestones as Sowerby's Now there lightens upon us. Unlike Sowerby's, however, this piece would do service throughout Christmastide, from the Feast itself through Candlemas. You may have noted that it dates from 1993; if you missed it then (when it appeared under the auspices of Augsburg), don't miss it now in this reprinting by MorningStar!

— The Rev'd John L. Hooker, D.M.A. · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, October 2002

Awake, Arise!

Joel Martinson's Easter carol on Christopher Smart's text is deftly and beautifully written. Although far from easy, it is a joy to sing, and it would be a fine Easter Day anthem. I have minor concerns about such a dense text moving by so quickly; this may disappear with more exposure to it, and it may even be that a slightly more deliberate tempo than Martinson indicates would help.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, July/August 1995

Here is a splendid new Easter carol that you should make note of for a future year. The text by Christopher Smart is set in a fanfare-like form with open chords and a lilting motion. It would work as an Introit, prelude, or a brief anthem. Medium difficulty.

The American Organist, June 1996

Christopher Smart is the author of this idiosyncratic and evocative text which the composer has vividly captured. This is a spirited setting for unaccompanied mixed chorus: meter changes are frequent but will cause few problems for alert singers. At 57 bars in length, it would be useful as an Introit. Moderately difficult. Recommended.

The American Organist, March 1996

Christ Is Our Cornerstone

Martinson est un compositeur américain contemporain. Neuf pages de belle musique riche en rythmes, modulations et intervalles variés. Plutôt délicat. A du caractère. [Martinson is a contemporary American composer. Nine pages of beautiful music rich in rhythms, modulations and varied intervals. Rather refined. With character.]

Caecilia, (journal of a French association of pastoral musicians) 1999

Joel Martinson's Christ Is Our Cornerstone…and Peter Saltzman's The Lord is my Shepherd…both have something new to say about the respective yet familiar texts…

Church Music Quarterly, July 1999 (UK)

Communion Service for the Incarnation

Also welcome [is]…Dallas composer Joel Martinson's deftly crafted Communion Service for the Incarnation.

— Scott Cantrell · The Dallas Morning News, January 2, 2000

Evening Music

Lovers of elegant choral singing won't want to miss this new CD [Night Sounds] from Dallas' world-class professional chamber choir [Orpheus Chamber Singers]…The thoroughly humane is here, too. Dallas composer Joel Martinson's Evening Music, an oboe-accompanied cycle of five poems about love and evening, is fragrantly hypnotic, with lovely playing by Willa Henigman.

— Scott Cantrell · The Dallas Morning News, October 27, 2002

Dallas Composer Joel Martinson's Evening Music, a cycle of five partsongs with oboe accompaniment, received its first complete performance, and a superb one it was.

The poems, by May Sarton, Philip Larkin, Dorothy Parker, Christina Rossetti, and Kenneth Patchen, explore love and its absence. The music is urbanely voluptuous, its harmonies radiating heat and light.

The singing could hardly have been more elegantly balanced and molded. Willa Henigman brought a beautifully mellow tone to the free-ranging oboe part…

— Scott Cantrell · The Dallas Morning News, October 15, 2001

The program was called "American Images," which doesn't really hint at its range. The composers were born over a 61-year period, from Randall Thompson in 1899 to Joel Martinson in 1960…Sobering, and moving, were two songs by Mr. Thompson that dealt metaphorically with old age and death. On the other hand, there was humor: Steve Barnett's setting of an old Hebrew poem, Epitaph: For a Wife, and Mr. Martinson's Symptom Recital by the acerbic Dorothy Parker.

Mr. Martinson, who was present, is the creator of sophisticated and basically tonal musical settings. He also has an ear for good poetry…a by no means universal gift among composers.

— Olin Chism · The Dallas Morning News, May 1, 2001

Evening Service for St. Mark's School of Texas

Paraclete Press's array of choral octavos is uniformly superb. By and large, the selections are for mixed chorus. A couple of words of caveat — many of these have a high tessitura, especially in soprano and tenor parts. These pieces will present a challenge to learn; however, if you have the choral forces available to perform some of these pieces, they are well worth any trials in learning…

Evening Service for St. Mark's School is a setting for the Magnificat text. This setting is through-composed. For liturgical use, this piece is limited to a Marian feast. In order to perform this work, a solid SATB ensemble is necessary. Rhythm is the biggest challenge of this setting.

— Jeannette L. Oliver · Modern Liturgy, June-July 1997

The Friendly Beasts and Alepun

Joel Martinson's two unison carol settings are the best from Choristers Guild in this batch. Through the simple expedients of dividing children's voices by sex (boy/girl) and of writing imaginatively for the organ, fine effects are had by relatively inexperienced singers. Both are recommended.

The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, October 1995

From My Heart Springs a Song

Speaking of superior harmonic vocabulary, do not miss Joel Martinson's From my heart springs a song. His ability to take a text deeper and deeper through unexpected harmonic twists is never better than here. Even though this is for SAB, it is sophisticated music which will grace any choir able to give the clear reading it deserves.

— The Rev'd John L. Hooker, D.M.A. · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, May/June 2001

God So Loved the World

Was Number 1 in "Select 20" list.

Creator - The bimonthly Magazine of Balanced Music Ministries, November/December 1993


Joel Martinson, the vital organ accompanist in the Hovland [Be with us] and Britten's "Te deum" in C, played his own Litanies [sic] for organ. This, too, was effective, a rocking rhythm binding together exterior twinings and a more animated, denser central section…

— Scott Cantrell · The Dallas Morning News, February 26, 2002

Locus iste


— Gerald Iversen · The American Organist, April 1993

Madison Organ Book: Introductions, Reharmonizations, and Organ Descants for Six Hymns

Highlights of this excellent collection (written for a 1994 Lutheran conference in Madison, Wisconsin) include a charming trio on the Easter hymn Gelobt sei Gott and splendid French-overture style introductions for Cwm Rhondda and Christe sanctorum. The other tunes are Christ lag in Todesbanden, Nettleton, and Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara. Unlike many such collections, the introductions are not too long, going through the tunes only once, with few interludes. The settings are thus perfect for their purpose — excellent to add some zip to hymn introductions for those of us who don't do well at coming up with our own, and as models of how to do it right for those who wish to learn. And because these tunes are well known, the book would be useful to organists in many denominations.

— Ray W. Urwin · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, December 1996

Miriam's Dance

This is worth looking at, even if you are put off by the Sunday School art on the cover. Characterized by shifting rhythms and melodic and harmonic use of the tritone, this lively dance was commissioned for the closing service of the Dallas national AGO convention in 1994, where it was well received.

CrossAccent, the journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, January 1996

Missa Guadalupe

But the real prize [of the Roman Catholic Worship at the 1994 AGO National Convention in Dallas] was Martinson's Missa Guadalupe. Mingling Latin, English, and Spanish texts, with catchy tunes for the congregation and hauntingly lovely harmonies for the choir, this was music of immediate appeal and considerable sophistication; the accompaniment included brass as well as organ. If multiculturalism can yield art as distinguished as this, we'll all be on the bandwagon.

— Scott Cantrell · The American Organist, September 1994

O Sing to the Lord a New Song

O Sing to the Lord a New Song is for four-part treble choir. The first section is scored for unison or solo, the middle section for four-part choir, and the concluding section for two parts. The organ accompaniment supports the voice line.

— M. Benedicta Berendes · Modern Liturgy, June-July 1998

Partita on Christ Is Arisen

This setting of the ancient Lutheran hymn, written when the composer was nineteen, is a fine compliment [sic] and contrast with settings of Bach and others. Fine and practical music by one of the best of today's younger church composers (b. 1960).

— Ray W. Urwin · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, December 1996

Partita on the Lenten Chorale: A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth

A theme and three variations quite imaginatively done within the limits of Lenten sparseness and restraint. It should be examined by those who need 10-minute voluntaries for Lent.

— Scott Withrow · The Diapason, May 1993

Postlude for a Festival Day

Martinson's Postlude for a Festival Day was effective…

— Scott Cantrell · The American Organist, September 1994

Rondeau Medievale

Noted Dallas composer and church musician Joel Martinson has created here a piece that is a cross between a trumpet tune and a rondo. The minor harmonies evoke an aura of ancient tonal practice, but there are enough twists to keep one firmly grounded in the 1990s. The theme is appealing and makes a nice complement to the hymn tune Deo Gracias. Easy to moderate difficulty. Highly recommended.

— David Heller · CrossAccent, the journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, January 1996

St. Mark's Organ Book: Introductions, Reharmonizations, and Organ Descants for Ten Hymns

This book is just what the title states. Originating at services at St. Mark's School of Texas, everything in it is meant to immediately precede or compliment [sic] the actual singing of the hymns, which include Crucifer, Pange lingua, Picardy, Sine Nomine, Winchester New, and others equally well known. Though it would have been even more useful had it included settings of one or two of the most familiar Christmas and Easter hymns and some less familiar tunes, it is nevertheless a very useful collection. Also useful as models for those learning to write or improvise their own.

— Ray W. Urwin · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, December 1996

There Is No Rose

The beautiful poem "There is no rose" has attracted a formidable list of composers. Joel Martinson writes here for a competent choir. The vocal writing is very skilful: no voices are stretched too far, although young basses may find a lot of bottom F#s (not to mention the final bottom C#s) a little taxing. The style is tonal but reasonably challenging, and there is a nice plasticity of rhythm in the setting of the words. Printing quality in all these OUP items is very good (it ought to be at the price), and piano reductions are provided for the a cappella pieces. Martinson's directions for performers are detailed but not fussy. Recommended.

Music Teacher (UK)

Twelve Organ Trios

Organists who know and admire Mr. Martinson's work do not need to be convinced of his considerable skills as a composer. These clever and well-composed trios deserve to be taught and performed. They are "intended to be a twentieth-century equivalent of the Ten Trios, Op. 49, by Josef Rheinberger, and, as in that volume, have been placed in graded order. They may be used by the earliest beginner through the most advanced player."

Pastoral Music, December-January 2001

Joel Martinson wrote this volume of organ trios when he was a teaching assistant in organ at the University of North Texas in 1983–84. In the preface he explains: "They are intended to be a twentieth-century equivalent of the Ten Trios, Op. 49, by Josef Rheinberger, and, as in that volume, have been placed in graded order." Martinson adds that the pieces were composed for practice and performance on mechanical-action organs and that the music employs a variety of "touches." These trios are brief and while intended as teaching pieces, they may also be programmed in groups as organ "sonatas" for use in recitals or as voluntaries for church services.

A pleasing variety of keys, rhythms, and styles as well as "touches" abounds in these trios. Unlike Rheinberger's trios, which are identified only by number, Martinson's pieces bear titles that reflect a genre ("Prelude," "Dance," "Invention") or describe a technique/style ("Ostinato," "Adagio," "a la Hindemith"). Most of the trios are in ABA form. Martinson's writing is characterized by motivic, rhythmically incisive lines and clear melodies with a strong sense of harmonic direction. This collection is a refreshing addition to the trio repertoire for both students and teachers who may be tired of Rheinberger's Romanticism.

The Diapason, November 1998

Twelve Organ Trios by Joel Martinson (£11.95) offer music of a totally different caliber. This is an excellent, valuable book of teaching material in this essential branch of organ playing. The pieces are presented in order of difficulty, designed to explore the varieties of touch obtainable from a good tracker action, but still immensely valuable for those blessed with electric action. The pedal parts provide exercises on their own. Any could be used as voluntaries; their comparative brevity should help even the most conservative organist to enjoy music in a contemporary idiom.

— Trevor Webb · Church Music Quarterly, October 1997 (UK)

Twelve Organ Trios were intended as teaching pieces. It is presumed that the performer has good keyboard skills but is unfamiliar with the pedal board of the organ. (They were also composed with a tracker organ in mind.) They make excellent little recital pieces or may be used as organ voluntaries for church services.

— M. Benedicta Berendes · Modern Liturgy, June–July 1998

When Music Wakes My Sleeping Heart

Martinson's new hymn, When music wakes my sleeping heart, commissioned for the convention, was a particular highlight — full of majestic sweep and innovative harmonies.

— Scott R. Riedel · The American Organist, October 1997

Wide, Wide in the Rose's Side (A Christmas Lullaby)

A novelty — a setting for church use of a text by a truly major modern American poet, in this case Kenneth Patchen. With no great performing or listening difficulties, this piece would be a pleasure to sing and to hear. Tender, sensitive writing, and the kind of modern composing congregations and audiences immediately appreciate and enjoy. On the short side, it would be a welcome addition (by a living American composer) to the Christmas Eve choral preludes group, or as a Communion motet. Another very welcome addition of an anthem from this publisher [Paraclete Press] accessible to many parish-level choirs, in terms of both resources/difficulty and price. Recommended.

— Ray W. Urwin · The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians

Joel Martinson as Organist

1994 National Convention of the American Organists

Dallas, TX

July 10–14, 1994

Roman Catholic Worship

The specially assembled choir, mainly conducted by Richard DeLong, sang with great finesse, and Joel Martinson played authoritatively…Of the organ pieces, Martinson's Postlude for a Festival Day was effective, if thoroughly conventional…

But the real prize was Martinson's Missa Guadalupe. Mingling Latin, English, and Spanish texts, with catchy tunes for the congregation and hauntingly lovely harmonies for the choir, this was music of immediate appeal and considerable sophistication; the accompaniment included brass as well as organ. If multiculturalism can yield art as distinguished as this, we'll all be on the bandwagon.

— Scott Cantrell · The American Organist, September 1994

Joel Martinson's Hymn Festivals

Hymn Festival

Region VI Convention of the American Guild of Organists

Appleton, WI

June 22–25, 1997

A high standard of hymn and service playing was evident throughout the convention. Organist/composer Joel Martinson, along with the Lawrence Brass and a choir composed of local music directors conducted by Kevin Meidl, delivered a hymn festival spanning many centuries and styles. Martinson's work at the console, along with the well-blended brass ensemble and lively choir, was crystal clear and full of variety and color. Martinson's new hymn, "When music wakes my sleeping heart," commissioned for the convention, was a particular highlight — full of majestic sweep and innovative harmonies. This festival of largely new hymns was perfectly rendered by a historic Austin organ recently in danger of replacement by an electronic. Fortunately, the old Austin was not replaced, but still sings.

— Scott R. Riedel · The American Organist, October 1997

Hymn Festival

The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration

Dallas, TX

June 4, 2006

Dear Joel,

Thanks for the email about your Hymn Festival yesterday! I was there (Sunday p.m. dutes at FPC are suspended for the summer - hurray!), and just wanted you to know that there was NO ONE there who enjoyed it more than I! First of all - I just love being at Transfiguration. It could almost turn me into an Episcopalian! The music was glorious. Your hymn arrangements were so fresh and varied, and captured the text intent of each hymn. Your anthem [Sometimes a Light Surprises] was another star in your crown. The choir and brass and bells and organ couldn't have been better - same with the spoken words. Thank you for your wonderful creativity and a truly transfiguring experience.

— Jane Echols · Dallas, TX


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