March 30 - April 5, 2015

Dieric Bouts the Elder, The Last Supper, Sint-Pieterskerk (detail), Leuven, 1464-66

Christ Church Cathedral Choir Notes
Holy Monday through Easter
March 30-April 5, 2015

Click to go immediately to:

1) The Music Programme Homepage

2) The Music Calendar for Choral Eucharist, Eucharistie chantée and Evensong

3) L'Oasis Musicale

1890 Cavaillé-Coll organ, St-Ouen, Rouen

Click to go to a wide selection of organ music for Easter online listening at Pipedreams.

There is so much music for Holy Week, click on the appropriate day to narrow down the selection.

Myles Birket Foster, King's College, 19th cent.

King's College Cambridge: Passiontide to Easter 2012 (75 minute BBC programme) [YouTube]

March 29, 2015

Simon Bening, Jesus enters Jerusalem, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, 1525-30

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields [NRSV, Mark 11:8].

Christ Church Cathedral Choir Notes  

Passion / Palm Sunday

Click to go immediately to:

1) The Music Programme Homepage

2) The Music Calendar for Choral Eucharist, Eucharistie chantée and Evensong

3) L'Oasis Musicale


The Mass setting for 10am Palm Sunday is Arthur Wills, Missa Passionis Christi.   

Wondrous Machine, organ works by Arthur Wills,performed by Jeremy Filsell at the 1995 Marcussen organ of Tonbridge School. [BNQ; BM] (info)

Rogier van der Weyden, Entombment of Christ, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, 1450

The anthem for evensong for Palm Sunday is Kenneth Leighton, Solus ad victimam.  Click to go to Peter Abelard's text, with translation by Helen Waddell, and performances by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; the Choir of St. Stephen’s Church, Canterbury, and Somerville College Choir, Oxford.  

To listen to George Frideric Handel , Messiah: Part II and III, The Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, performed by Kathleen Battle, Florence Quivar, John Aler, Samuel Ramey, The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis conducting, while following the English text, right-click here, then left-click on "Open in New Window," then click here.  Arrange windows.

Ibrahim and Uhanna the Armenian, The Christ, Alexandria Library, 1464

Performance of George Frideric Handel, Messiah, Parts II and III, The Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by The Academy of Ancient Music and the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Christopher Hogwood conducting, To listen while following the English text, right-click here, then left-click on "Open in New Window," then click here. Arrange windows.

Hieronymus Bosch, Christ Carrying the Cross, Palacio Real, Madrid, 1505-07

The Passion proclaimed this coming Sunday is from the Gospel according to Mark.   
Johann Sebastian Bach: St. Mark Passion, BWV 247

Performance of a reconstruction by Andor Gomme, with recitatives and turbas by Reinhard Keiser. Recorded atChapel of Downing College, Cambridge, England. [musicMe]

Tenor [Evangelist]: Jeremy Ovenden; bass [Jesus]: Timothy Mirfin; soprano [arias]: Ruth Gomme; alto [arias]: William Towers; tenor [arias]: James Gilchrist; tenor [chorale]: Paul Thompson; [Maid]: Abigail Boreham; Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge / Cambridge Baroque Camarata; Geoffrey Webber.

Click for the text in German and English.


Click to go to Bach Cantatas for Online Listening.
Pietro Lorenzetti, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, Lower Basilica, Assisi, 1320
Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen / King of heaven, welcome, Cantata 182, for Palm Sunday, with performances by Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Jürgens, Leusink, Richter, and Thomas.

Match 22, 2015

James Tissot, The Gentiles come seeking Jesus, Brooklyn Museum, 1986-94

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.  They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus  [NRSV, John 12:20-21]."

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Click to go immediately to:

1) The Music Programme Homepage

2) The Music Calendar for Choral Eucharist, Eucharistie chantée and Evensong

3) L'Oasis Musicale


Robert Frederick Jones

Cynthia Gates and Lucie Mayer have both sung with The Cathedral Singers.  Rosemary Cass-Beggs, is Christ Church Cathedral’s director of liturgical dance.  All three will take part this coming Saturday, March 21, in L’Oasis Musicale’s Homage to Robert Frederick Jones.  Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, at 4:30pm.  Admission free / donation requested.


Sangeet: asato ma sat gamaya (1990
voice: Meg Sheppard
piano: Daniel Añez
A meditative work for voice and piano commissioned by alcides lanza and Meg Sheppard for performance on their concert tours in South America and across Canada.. In this work the singer repeats a hauntingly beautiful melody over and over again, mantra-like, while the pianist paints different orchestral colours at each repetition.
The Sanskrit text translates: Lead me from the unreal to the real,
from darkness to light,
from death to immortality.

The Titanic sails at Dawn (1999)
piano: Daniel Añez
A chamber work for viola and piano commissioned to be premièred at a retrospective concert of the composer’s works at the University of Western Ontario. Robert had just taken a trip to Eastern Canada and was inspired by the wild and mysterious waters off Canada’s coastline.

I was hungry and you fed me (2004)
choir: St. James the Apostle
soprano: Cynthia Gates
The composer was a church musician well-known for his sacred music which has been performed in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. This work is a musical expression of the composer’s deep spirituality.

Miss Havisham's Testament (2002)
One-act opera for soprano
voice: Lucie Mayer
stage direction: Rosemary Cass-Beggs
A one-act opera for soprano portraying Charles Dickens’s neurotic many-layered character from Great Expectations. In the opera Miss Havisham thinks back on her life and regrets the misery she has caused. The work was premièred at Théâtre Lac Brome, Knowlton, Québec.

Click to go to selected works of Robert Frederick Jones for free online listening at Sound Cloud or YouTube.
The Canadian Music Centre makes the following pieces by Robert Frederick Jones available for free online listening.  Opening a free account is required. Click here.
Step Forward and Toll this Bell for Peace
Symphony, op. 54


Johannes Brahms

The organ voluntaries for this coming Sunday are by Johannes Brahms.

The complete organ works of Johannes Brahms, performed by Karol Golebiowski at the organ of the Heliga Trefaldighets Kyrka, Kristianstadt [musicMe]:  

Chorale Prelude and Fugue on "O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid"
Fugue in A-flat minor
Prelude and Fugue in A minor
Prelude and Fugue in G minor
Eleven Chorale Preludes (1896)
Mein Jesu, der du mich
Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen
O Welt, ich muss dich lassen
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen
O Gott, du frommer Gott
Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Herzlich tut mich verlangen
Herzlich tut mich verlangen (second version)
O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (second version)

The complete organ works of Johannes Brahms performed by Robert Parkins at the 1976 Flentrop organof Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham, are available for  free online listening through the Naxos Music Library.  Check with your librarian.  [BNQ; BM] (info)

Read what Robert Parkins writes about the organ works of Johannes Brahms:

Most listeners do not think of Johannes Brahms (1833- 1897) as a composer of organ music, for the works that first come to mind are the symphonies, concertos, piano pieces, songs, and chamber music - or perhaps the German Requiem. Yet, the very last compositions from the pen of Brahms were a set of chorale preludes for organ, published posthumously in 1902. Curiously enough, his only previous compositions for this instrument originated much earlier.

In the 1850s, when Brahms was still a young pianist and composer, he mentioned his aspirations to become an "organ virtuoso". Although he found the complex instrument more difficult to master than he had anticipated, he began to compose for it in earnest. Among his first attempts were two preludes and fugues, a conscious emulation of a form developed in the Baroque era but filtered through Brahms's own harmonic language. He regarded both works as novice projects not worthy of publication and apparently thought that the manuscripts had been destroyed. They were discovered much later, however, and published in 1927, thirty years after his death.

The Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, the second and more mature of the two, was written in 1857. The flamboyant prelude recalls the rhapsodic style of praeludia and toccatas by earlier German composers like Buxtehude or even the young J. S. Bach. Brahms was an avid student of pre-19th-century music, and it is by no means coincidental that he often chose archaic musical forms for his own writing.

Counterpoint, especially canon and fugue, absorbed the attention of Brahms during this period in particular. The first version of his Fugue in A flat minor, completed in 1856, was later revised and published in 1864 (as a supplement to the journal Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung). The accompanying prelude in this rarely used key has been lost - if indeed it was ever completed - but the quiet fugue, marked langsam, stands on its own as a masterfully crafted and deeply felt creation. Brahms's contrapuntal ingenuity is revealed even from the outset, as the highly expressive main subject is answered by its own inversion.

After the 1850s Brahms abandoned composition for the organ, other than revision of older pieces for publication, but toward the end of his life and just before the impending death of his close friend Clara Schumann, Brahms once again turned his attention to the organ. The resulting Eleven Chorale Preludes, finished in May and June of 1896, are a high point in German Romantic organ literature. Most are rather short and similar in format to pieces in the Orgelbüchlein, J. S. Bach's cycle of 45 chorale preludes for the liturgical year; that is, the phrases of the chorale melody, plain or embellished, are not separated by long interludes.

A notable exception opens Brahms's set, however. Mein Jesu, derdu mich, a more extended treatment cast in the Baroque mold of the Pachelbel-style chorale prelude, adumbrates each phrase of the hymn tune with fugal imitation of a subject derived from that phrase. Brahms was particularly fond of the chorales O Welt, ich muss dich lassen and Herzlich tut mich verlangen, and he provided two contrasting settings of each. Like Herzliebster Jesu and Herzlich tut mich erfreuen, their texts are concerned with final matters: the passion of Jesus Christ, death, and the afterlife. Just beyond the midpoint of the collection comes O Gott, du frommer Gott, a powerful work in which the tune sounds mezza voce from a subsidiary manual until the final phrase. Balancing the ponderous textures that characterize most of these preludes are three somewhat more subdued ones without pedal: O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen, yet another reflection on death and eternity; the lovely communion hymn Schmacke dich, o liebe Seele, and the gentle Christmas tune, Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen.

In 1857, years before he was to focus on things eternal in several of his Eleven Chorale Preludes, Brahms had already written a beautiful Chorale Prelude on O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid. A Fugue based on this chorale tune was appended sometime later, and a revised version of the chorale prelude followed by the fugue was published in 1882, once again as a musical supplement to a periodical, Musikalisches Wochenblatt. The subject of the fugue is derived from the hymn tune, while the unadorned chorale appears in long notes in the pedal. Like the Fugue in A flat minor, it is slow, marked adagio, and the answer to the subject is similarly inverted.

The Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, ostensibly Brahms's first essay in organ composition, was sent to Clara Schumann as a gift to celebrate his own birthday in 1856. What it lacks in maturity and polish, it more than makes up for in youthful energy and impetuosity, but not at the expense of experimentation with time-honoured contrapuntal devices. More specifically, the fugue subject - already foreshadowed in the pedal line of the brief prelude - appears also in inversion, just preceding still another transformation by augmentation. As in many of Bach's early preludes and fugues, Brahms's counterpoint dissolves toward the end into the freestyle of the prelude, and the final statement of the subject is nearly buried under a furious flurry of notes.

© Robert Parkins