What's Up! Archive 2006

August 26, 2006

This has been an incredibly-busy summer for me! Our Transfigured Nights series finished the season on June 4 with a hymn festival, and a good part of the remainder of June was spent at conventions of the Episcopal Church. First, I was privileged to be in attendance for the second half of the General Convention in Columbus, OH, at which our new Presiding Bishop was elected and the convention responded to the infamous Windsor Report. It was also very interesting to see the workings of convention legislation — from committee hearings to the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.

The second convention I attended was the Association of Anglican Musicians conference in Indianapolis. It was great to be with so many friends and colleagues from across the US who work toward similar goals in the field of American church music. Indianapolis has very high concentration of highly-developed church music, most of which includes inter-generational choirs of some sort. The opening night of the conference featured an Evensong and Hymn Festival in memory of Frederic P. Williams, Sr. (a resident of Indianapolis and leading force in Episcopal worship — influential in Prayer Book and Hymnal revisions) at the incredibly modern and live Sweeney Chapel at Christian Theological Seminary in suburban (rural!) Indianapolis. The Choir and Choir School of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Frank Boles, director, led us in the service, presenting a very ambitious program of music in the course of the evening. Among the compositions were the official premieres of the commissioned anthems, including my Sometimes a Light Surprises. The choir did a great job, and is certainly one of the finest parish choirs you'll hear. Give their recent recording a listen: Sing to the Lord New Songs!

My partner David and I traveled to Alaska in July, spending one week with my parents and family. The second week brought four of our best friends to Alaska for the first time, and we traveled around the Kenai Peninsula. Check out the Photo Gallery for some incredible pictures! My dad, the Bishop of the Alaska Synod of the ELCA, retired on July 31, so it was great to be with him at the end of his term, and to be with my mom on her seventieth birthday (sorry, mom!).

Since we arrived home, my work at church has been pretty all-consuming, as we have been busy with preparations for two HUGE events in September which celebrate Transfiguration's Fiftieth Jubilee. On September 13, Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu will speak to our congregation. We're seating people in the church, parish hall, and, now, the school gym. The Sunday following, September 17, the entire parish is invited to the Eisemann Symphony Center in Richardson (the suburb just north and east of the church) for a festival liturgy. We're pulling out all the stops — The Transfiguration Choir, plus former members of the choir and others, our Bella Musica handbell choir, Jubilate Deo youth choir, and a 28-piece orchestra! I've been busy setting hymns and service music in Finale for both events, as well as orchestrating all but a couple pieces for the strings and wind which will join the brass. Among the full orchestrations of my existing compositions will be:

  • The Invitation
  • O Praise Ye the Lord
  • Missa Guadalupe: Alleluia and Sanctus (bilingual)

I'm also doing settings of Go Forth for God (Litton), Come, Risen Lord (Rosedale), and adapting Vaughan Williams' anthem on King's Weston for use with a recent text from the Australian hymnal.

The major new work for the service is a new setting of Lift High the Cross (Crucifer), commissioned by neXtgen, our young adult group at church. They saved funds from a number of events over the course of the past year to give this gift to the congregation. Anyway — wish me luck in getting all this done by September 16!

After the dust settles, I will write an article on the use of cantors in the Episcopal Church for a new resource being produced by Church Publishing. Then work begins on upcoming commissions which are scheduled into the fall of 2007. I have recently had a number of inquiries about availability within the next year. I am completely booked up, but would love to write for you if you could wait until next season.

Back to composition work. Enjoy my new website!

— Joel


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