Category Archives: Music

500 Jahre Orgelmusik – mein Konzert

Am 2. September war es soweit, ich spielte ein Orgelkonzert im Rahmen des Reformationsjahrs (2017 feiern wir ja 500 Jahre Thesenanschlag Martin Luthers).
(English version of the blog post)

Eigentlich hatte ich das gar nicht als “mein” Konzert geplant, als ich die Idee mal mit unserer Pfarrerin besprach. Aber eines Abends kam mein Mann von der Kirchenvorstandssitzung nach Hause und sagte, “alle freuen sich schon so sehr auf Dein Konzert”.

Nun gut. Ich entschied mich, das Publikum mit auf die Reise durch 500 Jahre Orgelmusik zu nehmen, angefangen bei Musik aus Luthers Zeit bis hin zu moderner Musik. Dabei wollte ich keine zu “schwere Kost” servieren, um die Hörgewohnheiten nicht zu überfordern, aber doch zeigen, was es heute so gibt, und auch ein wenig zum Nachdenken anregen.

Hier mein Programm:

Hans (Johann) Buchner (1483 – 1538)
Christ ist erstanden

Caterina Assandra (1590 – 1618)
Ego flos campi

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 – 1707)
Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (BuxWV 208)

Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706)
Fuga in d-Moll (P. 154; T. 276)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Präludium und Fuge g-Moll (BWV 558, Bach zugeschrieben)
„Ich ruf zu dir“ aus dem „Orgelbüchlein“ (BWV 639)
Präludium und Fuge G-Dur (BWV 557, Bach zugeschrieben)

Georg Andreas Sorge (1703 – 1778)
Trio C-Dur

Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752 – 1817)
Freue dich sehr o meine Seele

Fanny Hensel (1805 – 1847)
Choral (op. 3/1)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
Andante D-Dur (MWV W 6)

Emma Louise Ashford (1850 – 1930?)
Evening Hymn

Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
Vesper Voluntaries op. 14
Introduction – Andante – Allegro – Andantino – Allegretto piacevole – Intermezzo – Poco lento – Moderato – Allegretto Pensoso – Poco allegro – Coda

Kate Boundy (1866 – 1913)
Even Song

Carlotta Ferrari (* 1975)
La Salita al Mirteto

Lothar Graap (* 1933)
Der Mond ist aufgegangen. Kleine Variationen für Orgel (GWV 320)
I. Verhalten – II. Straff – III. Ruhig – IV. Langsam – V. Freudig – VI. Mäßig bewegt – VII. Langsam – VIII. Bewegt – IX. Sehr ruhig

Es gab am Ende langen, freundlichen und teilweise begeisterten Applaus, und so spielte ich noch eine Zugabe, das “Caprice” aus “Cinq pièces pour orgue” von Adolphe Marty.

Und die Pläne fürs nächste Konzert sind auch schon im Werden. Denn meine “Hauptorgel” stammt aus dem Jahr 1858 und so können wir nächstes Jahr “Geburtstag” feiern. Aber erst einmal hält der “normale” Organistenalltag wieder Einzug, mit Sonntagsgottesdiensten und allem, was sonst so dazugehört.

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500 years of organ music

On Saturday, 2nd of September, I had the pleasure of playing an organ recital in Griedel (a village about 50 kilometres north of Frankfurt/Main).
This year, we’re celebrating 500 years of Martin Luther putting up his theses and the start of the reformation.

When I first talked about the idea of having an organ concert in the reformation year with our pastor, I thought that all three organ players in the parish could come together and each would play 20 minutes or so. Well, it seems I wasn’t clear enough on this, because one evening my husband came home from a meeting of the church committee and said that everyone was looking forward to “my organ recital”. Apparently the pastor had told them I would play the full concert.

What to do? I decided to take the listeners on a journey through time, starting with organ music from Luther’s time and moving on to modern music. I knew that I had to be careful what kind of modern music I could present to the audience as most people here are not really used to new sounds, but at the same time I wanted to give them some food for thought.

Here’s the full list of pieces I played:

Hans (Johann) Buchner (1483 – 1538)
Christ ist erstanden (Christ is risen)

Caterina Assandra (1590 – 1618)
Ego flos campi

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 – 1707)
Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (BuxWV 208)

Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706)
Fugue in d minor (P. 154; T. 276)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Prelude and fugue g minor (BWV 558)
„Ich ruf zu dir“ from the „Orgelbüchlein“ (BWV 639)
Prelude and fugue G major (BWV 557)

Georg Andreas Sorge (1703 – 1778)
Trio C major

Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752 – 1817)
Freue dich sehr o meine Seele (Rejoice my soul)

Fanny Hensel (1805 – 1847)
Chorale (op. 3/1)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
Andante D major (MWV W 6)

Emma Louise Ashford (1850 – 1930?)
Evening Hymn

Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
Vesper Voluntaries op. 14
Introduction – Andante – Allegro – Andantino – Allegretto piacevole – Intermezzo – Poco lento – Moderato – Allegretto Pensoso – Poco allegro – Coda

Kate Boundy (1866 – 1913)
Even Song

Carlotta Ferrari (* 1975)
La Salita al Mirteto

Lothar Graap (* 1933)
Der Mond ist aufgegangen (The moon has risen), variations for organ (GWV 320)
I. Verhalten (cautious) – II. Straff (taughtly) – III. Ruhig (quiet) – IV. Langsam (slow) – V. Freudig (joyful) – VI. Mäßig bewegt (moderately moved) – VII. Langsam (slow) – VIII. Bewegt (moved) – IX. Sehr ruhig (very quiet)

 
There were about 35 or even 40 people in the audience and after a long round of friendly and partly enthusiastic applause, I played “Caprice” from “Cinq pièces pour orgue” by Adolphe Marty.

Next year, my “main” organ will have its 160th birthday, so there will be another recital coming up. I’ve already made plans what to play. But first, back to “standard organist life” with Sunday services and all the rest.

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More women composers needed! – More women composers needed?

It’s International Women’s Day today, and the radio station I listen to in the mornings asked whether we still need this day. Especially in a Western European country, highly developed, with equality being part of numerous laws and regulations, and with women having such a good life.
Do we need this day?
When I was a teenager, I’d have said, no, we don’t need that day. I grew up feeling I’d be a strong, independent, capable woman, and all doors would be open for me. People would recognize my talents and skills and I would be successful.
I wanted to become a conductor. I was aware of the fact that there weren’t many female conductors at that time, but I didn’t really think about it. Then I found out that music colleges wanted students to play not only piano, but also an orchestral solo instrument like the violin, the flute, the horn, whatever, to even accept you for the auditions in the conductor classes. So I didn’t study conducting after all. I learned how to lead choirs, but it took me 18 years after graduation to actually do that. Anyway, that’s another story.

If you follow my blog regularly, you will know that I’m trying to make the names and works of female composers known. I mainly concentrate on composers who have written for the organ, but for a general overview you may want to have a look here at the archive for women and music: http://www.archiv-frau-musik.de/Komponistinnena.htm

My own list of female composers of organ music at the moment has 100 names on it, and I’m still adding names and will probably end up with 200 or even more. It’s amazing, isn’t it, there are so many of them, and still quite a lot of people aren’t aware of the fact.

A few days ago, Susanna Eastburn wrote in The Guardian: “We need more women composers – and it’s not about tokenism, it’s about talent”. You can find the article here

I shared the article on twitter. There were only two comments at this time, and these two made me say, hey, read the article, but don’t read the comments. I had a peek at the comment section half an hour later, and comments had gotten worse by the minute. People saying that if women composers were any good at all they wouldn’t need our support but would be successful anyway were still the friendliest.

Why is it that the thought of women writing music and women wanting to have a seat at the table with other composers bring out so much aggression in some people? Have we still not moved on from the times of Fanny Mendelssohn, who was told by her father that her equally talented brother Felix could become a professional composer, but she couldn’t?

Yes, you need to be good for your works to be published and played. I have no reason to play music that’s poorly written or boring. But this has nothing to do with the composer’s gender. I already wrote about how difficult it can be to make your way in the creative industries in a blog post in 2015. Back to Susanna’s article. Pétur Jónsson from Medialux Music Productions had also shared it on twitter, and we had a brief conversation about the comments. He said that if we looked at the bright side, the negative comments just showed that there still is a problem.

I’ve dabbled at composing from my teenage years on. In 1993, I wrote the music for a fairytale play at a semi-professional theatre. Looking back, I can only say that it’s better that the music only exists on some tapes and written drafts, because it wasn’t very good. But I wanted more, and in 1994, I wrote the music for a stage version of Alice’s adventures in wonderland for the same theatre. The play had quite a lot of media attention since the author was a professor at the local university, and the stage design was one by a very talented student from an art college who had brought two other students with him who did the costumes. It was a brilliant production. I not only wrote the music, but also played Amanda, the dormouse, and have very fond memories of the whole thing.

What really wound me up, though, was that the critics in the local newspaper more or less ignored my composing efforts, and simply wrote that the music had been put together nicely by one of the actresses. I was furious and even called one of the critics and made him write an amendment and mention that I had not simply chosen the music, but written all the pieces and that he had been lucky to be part of a world premiere. 😉 I must have been very persuasive on the phone, and he actually wrote a few lines which were published a few days later. I have no idea whether he just didn’t know or care who had composed the music, or whether it was so good that he thought it must’ve been published elsewhere before, but at the time, I felt that my work, my talent wasn’t valued, and of course this hurt.

Only recently I started digging in my old drafts and music sheets again and found pieces and songs that I still like and might publish one day. What I would like to see, not only on International Women’s Day, is a discussion about music and composing that doesn’t automatically assume that the composer’s gender has anything to do with the quality of the music she or he writes. I’m sure that composers of any gender are capable of writing music that’s wonderful, exciting and inspiring. And every musician, artist, composer, performer needs support to be able to show their work to a wider audience. I hope that we will achieve this eventually.

I haven’t got a clear answer to the question of the headline. But I would like to encourage you, whatever gender you have, to let your music be heard, your art be seen, your texts be read. We grow and learn and there’s so much to share, so if you feel like sharing, please do it.
Comment section is open, and I’m interested in your thoughts.

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November music

November was a busy month for the musician in me.
I played the organ for Sunday service, I had the pleasure to conduct our choir for another Sunday service because our MD had to be elsewhere, and last weekend there was “the” concert: two choirs, a brass quintet, an organ solo, and additional solo and duet singing. Plus I accompanied another choir during their Sunday service yesterday.

Overall, everything went okay. Of course, there are things that could’ve gone better. I’m not happy at all with my solo performance at the organ, I managed to muddle through and save the piece by improvising wildly while having some kind of brain shutdown and technical problems with the instrument, and I suppose it wasn’t as bad as it felt, but while it happened, I just wanted to be somewhere else and never perform again. I haven’t listened to the recording yet and my inner perfectionist is still sulking.
The good thing was that the organ I had available yesterday was a very decent instrument and made up for everything else and I’m almost back to feeling confident about performing 🙂

The two duets I sang together with another soprano worked really, really well and were a lot of fun. We’ve been asked to sing together again at a concert in March next year, so I’m now looking for suitable pieces.

Also, I’ve learned a lot for future organ recitals – for example that my preparation should include a plan B for technical difficulties with the instrument and that my improvisation skills are good enough to survive even some kind of blackout in my head.

December won’t be as busy, a few Sunday services, a solo for the choir’s advent/pre-Christmas event, and hopefully some practice time before the year ends.

And did I already mention the 2nd of September 2017? This is when I will play my organ recital and it has now been officially announced in the “Luther year calendar”.

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Komponistinnen-Welten. Zu Gast beim Archiv Frau und Musik

Gestern fand in Frankfurt der Thementag “Komponistinnen-Welten” statt. Ein Tag voll mit Impulsen, Informationen, Gesprächen und natürlich Musik.
Hier das Programm: http://www.archiv-frau-musik.de/cms/projekte/komponistinnen-welten

Es war ein bisserl unglücklich, dass diese spannende Veranstaltung zeitgleich zum Frankfurter Marathon stattfand, aber über den Tag gesehen waren doch einige Besucherinnen und Besucher da, und ich hoffe, das Archiv und der Internationale Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik e. V. waren insgesamt zufrieden mit der Resonanz (und hoffentlich auch mit den Spenden).

Ich habe viele gute Gespräche geführt und tolle Menschen kennen gelernt. Möglicherweise lässt sich das ein oder andere auch fortführen, aber ich sollte nicht vergessen, dass auch meine Tage nur 24 Stunden haben, dass ich einen Vollzeitbürojob habe und ab und zu mal Schlaf brauche 😉

Dennoch möchte ich die Gelegenheit nutzen, hier im Blog kurz auf die Arbeit des Arbeitskreises und des Archivs aufmerksam zu machen, denn es gibt weltweit derzeit kein anderes Archiv, das so umfangreich ist. Leider ist seine Existenz nicht dauerhaft gesichert und es werden weiterhin Unterstützerinnen und Unterstützer gesucht. Es tut sich einiges für Komponistinnen, Dirigentinnen, Musikerinnen, die Zeit bleibt nicht stehen, aber wenn man jemanden fragt, ob er/sie ohne eine Suchmaschine zu benutzen, die Namen von fünf Komponistinnen nennen könne, kommt oft nur ein großes Fragezeichen. Ein spannendes Projekt gibt es in London: http://www.five15.org/ für Komponistinnen von Chormusik.

Ich höre regelmäßig auch kritische Stimmen, die sagen, Frauenförderung sei ja sowas von 90er und out, und wenn Frauen das mit dem Komponieren “drauf hätten”, dann wären sie ganz von alleine erfolgreich. Diese Sichtweise verkennt meiner Meinung jedoch, dass auch Komponisten nicht “einfach so” erfolgreich sind und dass Frauen vor allem in der Vergangenheit, aber teilweise heute noch, mit vielen Problemen zu kämpfen hatten, die sich aus ihrer gesellschaftlichen Stellung ergaben und zunächst wenig mit ihrer tatsächlichen Begabung zu tun hatten. Das ist aber ein Thema, was ich an dieser Stelle nicht vertiefen möchte.

Ich hatte gestern jedenfalls einen wunderbaren Tag, auch wenn ich abends todmüde war, und möchte es nicht versäumen, auch ein bisserl Werbung für Heike Matthiesen zu machen, die nicht nur eine hervorragende Gitarristin ist, sondern auch eine ganz tolle Frau: https://heikematthiesen.wordpress.com/
Und wer lieber Klaviermusik mag, dem/der lege ich Margarita Feinstein ans Herz: http://www.margarita-feinstein.de/

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Organ music by female composers – part 3

In my last blog post on this topic, I wrote that one day I would go through IMSLP.org and try and find the names of female composers who’ve written music for the organ.
This is the list of names I came up with (excluding a few people I already mentioned in other blog posts):
Amy Marcy Beach
Cécile Gauthiez
Donata Bohlscheid
Eva Pelucchi
Florence Norvel
Florence Price
Katharine E. Lucke
Liana Alexandra
Mary Howe
Mary A. Laselle
Michelle Diehl
Nadia Boulanger

Recently, I bought “12 Orgeltänze” (12 organ dances) by Maja Bosch Schildknecht. And I shouldn’t forget to bring up June Nixon – I will probably play at least one of her works in the coming advent/Christmas season.

As always, please contact me if you can add names and/or information. This goes for my previous blog posts on this topic, too 🙂
You can find them here:
https://andijah.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/organ-music-by-female-composers/
https://andijah.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/organ-music-by-female-composers-part-2/

On December 4th, I’ll play the organ during a service that is being prepared and held by women, and two years ago, I started the “tradition” to play music by female composers for this service, and I will do so again this year. I haven’t made up my mind what I will play, but there’s such a great variety of pieces so I’m sure I can find something. Suggestions welcome 🙂

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My summer music

It’s roundabout 30 degrees outside, the sun’s shining and the neighbour’s kids enjoy the last days of vacation. I’m not a summer person, but I’m happy for all the others who are.
Still, in summer, there are festivals, and there’s always time for music.
August has been a rather musical month so far. I’ve played four Sunday services (organ), the choir rehearsals started again after a short break and I had the pleasure/challenge to be our only soprano in two rehearsals – so it was kinda being a soloist getting a full choir to accompany you 😉 This week Saturday, we’ll meet with all the choirs our MD is conducting and there will be an evening full of singing and probably lots of laughter.

At the beginning of August, we went to the Rheingau Musik Festival and listened to Randi Tytingvåg, Dag Sindre Vagle and Erlend Aasland. The concert was in a wine-grower’s yard – a laaaarge yard, and it was sold out, as far as I could see. Standing ovations at the end of the evening, and well deserved.

One week later we were in Nieder-Moos. In case you haven’t heard of this place yet, each summer the local church hosts a music festival and the trip is well worth it. We met with two friends and had the enormous pleasure of seeing and hearing the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Now, these guys and gals are just amazing and if they’re playing at a place near you, don’t miss them! Not everyone in the audience seemed to speak enough English to get all the jokes, but you don’t need language to enjoy good music, and it was standing ovations again.

Those who read my blog regularly or follow me on twitter know that I like a variety of styles and listen to more than one kind of music. So I was very happy to see that two of my favourite Icelandic musicians had new albums coming.
One is “Ypsilon” by guitarist Andrés Thor and his trio: https://andresthor.bandcamp.com/
and the other is “constant movement” by bassist Toggi Jonsson and his quintet: https://toggijonsson.bandcamp.com/releases
You can listen to the tracks online, but I’m all for supporting fellow musicians, so of course I will recommend that you go and buy the albums. 🙂

Last but not least, I’ve finally set a date for my organ concert next year. It will take place on the 2nd of September 2017, however, it’s not clear yet which organ I will have available. I will let you know when I know more. In addition to the official public recital I will also play a smaller concert for a different audience: I was invited to play for the inmates of the local jail, so this will be a new and interesting experience.

Coming up is a concert with two choirs and me doing one or two organ solo pieces and maybe also singing a solo or duet, so watch this space and/or my twitter account for details.

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