Music at Central

Ministry of Music

bell choir

Music ministry has been one of Central’s strengths since the moving to the present site; the outstanding acoustic in the sanctuary provides a sympathetic and beautiful setting for music ministry. Our musical instruments, the Brombaugh organ installed in 1976, and the Steinway grand piano (1986) along with sixty handbells (1985-present), have given further focus to the program through the years.

Central has four choirs: the Central Chorale — our adult fifty-voice singing choir, the Alleluia Choir for grades 5 through 9; the Children’s Choir for grades 1 through 4, and the Central Handbell Choir for high school students and adults. The musical calendar at Central each year is a busy one and includes two sacred choral masterpieces presented by the Chorale with soloists and orchestra, The Procession of Lessons and Carols for Advent, Easter and Christmas services, along with regular Sunday schedules. The Music Ministry program is headed by Dr. ElRay Stewart-Cook, our Organist/Choirmaster. Rehearsal times can be found on this month’s calendar.

Organ Concert by Wolfgang Rübsam – October 10, 2021

Click here for more information

Quarantine Music by ElRay

During this time at home, our Organist/Choirmaster, ElRay Stewart-Cook is providing musical shorts for our meditation, enjoyment, and edification. Click on each title to view the video.

The Lord’s Prayer and discussion. (10 Minutes long).  4/15/2020

Luther Chorale and Chorale Prelude by Georg Böhm (one of the teachers of Johann Sebastian Bach)

Jesus Loves Me (4 Minutes long). 4/16/2020

Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring, the tenth movement of Cantata 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben [ Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life] by Johann Sebastian Bach, composed in 1723 for the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, when Mary visited Elizabeth to tell her that she was pregnant with Jesus. Elizabeth shared that she too, was expecting. 

The tenth movement is scored for choir and strings, It has been arranged for almost every instrument in existence, including a wooden xylophone on a mountain side. — as a ball rolls down the hill, it strikes a long set of wooden bars going down the hill that sound the melody. Enjoy

 Aria – Flor Peeters

 Fourth Video from Central Lutheran Church’s Organ loft in Eugene, OR (5.5 Minutes long)

Aria by Flor Peeters (1903-1986) He was the Director of the Antwerp Conservatory in Belgium, and organist at Mechelen Cathedral from 1923 to his death in 1986. 

Employs the Renaissance reed stops of the Brustwerk and Great divisions (Brustwerk is the top keyboard — pipes right above my head; Great division, the middle keyboard, is the huge pipes that are visible and the 1000 pipes inside the case that are not visible. The Brombaugh has over 2800 pipes total which makes it a medium sized organ.   Short demonstration of reed pipes at the end.

If With All Your Heart, from the oratorio, Elijah,  David Gustafson, Tenor, Andrew ElRay Stewart-Cook playing the Brombaugh organ.

 David Gustafson and I are recording a CD of our favorite Sacred Songs and Arias for a project that we have been discussing for several years.  We were at the church Monday evening rehearsing the repertory after which I asked David to stay and record one of the arias, If With All Your Heart, from Mendelssohn’s beloved oratorio, Elijah from the CD.  Thank you David for sharing your talent with us.  Enjoy

Trumpet Voluntary — John Bennett (1735-84) was organist at St Dionis in the City of London (1 mile square, not the greater London area).  Discussion includes talking about English organs of the 18th century which had no pedal boards for the feet to play.  Pedal boards were added to English organs in the early 19th century. Pedal boards, such as our organ, were developed in Germany for several centuries prior to this.  The first organ in St Paul’s Cathedral in London had 2.5 keyboards (manuals) no pedals and 27 stops (organ voices with 1900 pipes for that vast space.  The Brombaugh organ built in the North German style, has 3 manuals and pedals, 38 stops, and over 2800 pipes.

Trumpet Voluntary is in two section, the first one, a slow, lyrical movement, employs the Principal pipes of the organ (like the pipes visible in the facade.  The second section features the Trumpet stop on the Great keyboard, with the echo on the Cornet in the Brustwerk above my head which is accompanied by two flute stops on the Ruckpostive manual (bottom keyboard plays the organ on the balcony rail).  The Cornet (pronounced Kor-NAY) is a French Baroque organ sound and includes the following five harmonic overtones (partials), 1st, 8th, 12th, 15th, and 17th. which reminds one of the spices and flavor of French cuisine.

 An improvisation on the hymn, Sweet Hour of Prayer. Music by William Bradbury

Out of the Wood, A Cuckoo Did Fly, a Czech Carol, arr. by R. Cundick.
A short discussion and demonstration of the organ stops employed.  The delightful and charming  setting of the Czech carol follows.  
Enjoy One of my bird pieces, By Request.

Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland (Savior of the Nations, Come), BWV 659, an ornamented Chorale Prelude based upon the Advent hymn, ELW #263, by Johann Sebastian Bach, composed during his tenure in Leipzig from 1723-1750.
A discussion of the Luther Advent Hymn, Savior of the Nations, Come with the hymn played on the façade pipes of the Ruckpostive  (balcony rail organ).  
Bach composed three chorale preludes based upon this hymn during his tenure in Leipzig.   I play a short section of the third chorale prelude (BWV 661) which includes the hymn tune played on the Trombone and 3 higher trumpet stops of the pedal.  I generally play this one as a Voluntary on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of Advent. (See the sixth and the eighth video for more on those organ stops in the pedal division.) Then I play the entire first one (BWV 659, (about 4 minutes long), the hauntingly beautiful, ornamented version of the Chorale. Left hand and pedal are played on the Principal sounds of the organ; the melody is played on the Ruckpostive (Balcony rail organ played on the bottom keyboard) using the German version of the French Cornet (see Sixth video description for more information.) Lots of background in this video.  Enjoy and stay well!  Bach’s Leipzig pictures will be posted on CLC Facebook page later.

O Divine Redeemer, a Sacred Song by Charles Gounod, a French composer (1818-1893). Probably best known in Sacred Music for the exquisite melody that he added to J. S. Bach’s Prelude #1 from the Well-tempered Clavier (refers to the tuning system Bach employed, a well-tempered system that could play in all keys) employing the Ave Maria text, known as the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria.  I heard O Divine Redeemer sung as a child and fell in love with it.  It continues to rate very highly on my list, and David sings it beautifully.  Video was made at the end of a long recording session that David and I did tonight with Ted Hick’s help for a CD of Sacred favorites.  Enjoy and stay safe and well.

Trumpet Minuet by Alfred Hollins (1865 – 1942). Hollins was a blind organist in Scotland who was known for his recitals that he play around the country.  It feature the Trumpet stop on the Great keyboard (middle keyboard with pipes up in the main organ; the accompaniment is played on the Ruckpostive organ (bottom keyboard on the balcony rail).  Minuet is an 18th century formal dance – think powdered wigs, elegant silk dresses and breaches, etc. and you know the type of dance – certainly not a hoedown! 

Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy (1862-1918). Debussy and Ravel revolutionized the sound of music in the late 19th century from the goal oriented, striving structure, to music that was focused on a state of being called Impressionism, without the forward, goal orientation of previous musical styles. It was somewhat inspired by the impressionistic paintings of Monet and others. It’s difficult for us in 2020 to understand the way these impressionist pieces sounded to the listener in 1900. The sound seems so ordinary and beautiful to us, but to people of that time, the sounds were shocking as were the paintings in this style. By request. Enjoy and stay safe and well.

Fantasie in G Minor, BWV 542.1 – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Organ: Opus 19, 1976,  John Brombaugh and Associates. 38 stops over 3 manuals and pedal division.  (60+ranks), Outstanding organ builders who have contributed to this instrument:  John Boody, George Taylor, Munetaka Yokoto, Ralph Richards, Bruce Fowkes, Bruce Shull, Michael Bigelow, to name by a few. Apologies to anyone not included.
Fantasies, preludes, and toccatas were improvised pieces during the Baroque period –  created on the spot and generally never written down unless they were to be used to teach students to play the organ, harpsichord or clavichord.  Likewise, much of the organ music for church services of this period was improvised by organists, truly a great gift.  This explains the reason that no significant solo organ music exists by George Frederic Handel.  A gifted organist, he was born and trained in Germany, but much of his life in London was focused on composing operas and oratorios (like Messiah), not teaching or serving as an organist for a church. And as I explained previously, Handel must have found the English organs of his time very strange and limiting with no pedal divisions.  This Fantasie has five sections; the first, third and fifth section are played on the full organ sound of the Great manual (middle keyboard) which controls the  main organ located behind the large façade pipes.  Sections 2 and 4 which are more reflective and gentler in nature and are played on the flute stops of the Ruckpostive (literally back organ, the organ on the balcony rail at my back). As one of my favorite pieces, I first played this Fantasie for the voluntary at Shirley Trost’s funeral (Pastor Dick Trost’s wife) at Central Lutheran in 1985  and subsequently for both my parent’s and D’reen’s funerals.  In my opinion, it conveys the entire gamut of life’s experience, ecstasy, tenderness, sweetness, anguish, power, grandeur which we experience during life’s journey. Enjoy and stay safe and well.  You are welcome to share this video with friends.

Chorale Prelude:  Ein feste Burg  (A Mighty Fortress)  Diderik Buxtehude, 1637-1707

When Martin Luther introduced congregational singing in the vernacular to Divine Services in the 16th century, suddenly the peasant folk who were largely illiterate, could participate and add their voice to the services.  Luther collected, adapted and composed a large body of Chorales, which he used to educate the congregations in the basic tenants of the Christian faith.  These chorales, many of which had 14 stanzas, were learned by rote, becoming a central part of everyday life.  One could hear them being sung everywhere, in the fields and the houses.  Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) is doubtless the most famous of these chorales.  As was the practice of the period, the organist would improvise a prelude using the tune from the chorale.  These preludes presented the hymn tune in either a straightforward manner or one that was highly decorated, where the melody served as a basic framework for an ornamented treatment.  This Buxtehude example is one of the later types.  The chorale melody serves as a springboard for a florid and beautiful composition, but it takes a sleuth to find the melody, which is hidden within the melodic line.  An error in my discussion:  the tones of the German Sesquialtera stop combination are 1, 8. 12 and 17.  (Beginning note is 1st (if a “C”), 8th is and octave higher, 12th the next G, 17th would be an “E.”  I mistakenly said 15th instead of 17th

Woodland Flute Call  —   Fannie Charles Dillon (18811947) 
A gifted pianist and composer, Dillon studied music in Berlin, Germany. Her later years were spent in California as a faculty member at Pomona College and as a teacher in the public schools of Los Angeles.  Dillon composed many descriptive pieces, which evolve their titles, of which the charming and delightful Woodland Flute Call is one and features the particularly beautiful flute stops of the Brombaugh with, of course, the bird stop.  As a youngster growing up on a potato farm in Southeastern Idaho about 90 miles South of Yellowstone Park, and 30 miles North of Idaho Falls, organ music both recorded and live was very limited.  Salt Lake City had a powerful radio station that every Sunday evening broadcast a 30-minute program of organ music played by Alexander Schreiner in the Salt Lake Tabernacle which I religiously heard with crackling static and fades as the station was about 250 miles away.  I first heard this piece on this program and instantly fell in love with it.  Most organists in my home town were basically amateur organists who mostly played “at” the organ just on Sunday for services –  so at age 12, I was already playing for services.  I was one of “those kids,” who at age five I was easy to find after church as I was trying to climb up on the organ bench.  There is name for this now “obsessive compulsive disorder”. LOL.  Schreiner likely knew Fannie from his days as University Organist at Royce Hall, UCLA in Los Angeles.  Enjoy and stay safe and well.  You are welcome to share this video with friends.

Moonlight Sonata (First Movement)  Opus 22, #2 —   Ludwig Van Beethoven 1770-1827
Composed when Beethoven was 30 years old, long before he became deaf, the name “Moonlight Sonata” was given to the first movement of the Sonata by the German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab. five years following Beethoven’s death, Rellstab thought that the music reminded him of  effect of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.   By request.  You are welcome to share this video with friends.  Stay safe and well. Enjoy!

Prelude on the Swedish Folksong, Värmeland, the Beautiful.  arr. by Robert Cundick
Värmeland is a region of Sweden that lies directly to the East of Oslo, Norway. This hauntingly beautiful folksong is so typical of Scandinavian folk music.  One of my ancestors came from Denmark and  I have spent 3 years in that beautiful country, so my love of Scandinavian music is genetic.  Enjoy. You are welcome to share this video with friends. Stay safe and well.

Bist du bei mir, (When you are near) from theAnna Magdalena Bach Book – Johann Sebastian Bach. with Sheri Pyron, French Horn

At age 22 in 1707, Sebastian Bach first married his cousin, Barbara Bach.  After returning from a trip in 1720 with his employer, the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen, he discovered his wife, Barbara, had died, leaving four children under his exclusive care.  The Prince often travel to “take the waters” and frequently took Bach with him to play music for him.  In 1721, he married Anna Magdalena, a brilliant soprano, and 16 years his junior.  Together they had an additional 13 children. Of course, with the high infant mortality, not all of those children survived.  Bach wrote and complied a book of music, primarily easier pieces, for Anna to work on her keyboard skills.  This beautiful song with text is included in this book. One of the very great privileges of my job at CLC is to collaborate with many fine musicians.  Thank you Sheri.   Enjoy. You are welcome to share this video with friends. Stay safe and well.

Trumpet Prelude from Drottingholm Musik – Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758)

Known as the “Swedish Handel,” Roman spent time in London working with Handel and became the Royal court composer when he returned to Sweden.  So significant was his influence on music in Sweden that he is also known as the father of Swedish Music.  Drottingholm Musik is named after the Drottingholm Palace, one of the Royal palaces in Stockholm and is the current residence where the Swedish Royal family have lived since the 1980s. The primary Royal Palace where official Royal functions occur, is located in the Old Town section of Stockholm with the Cathedral and the Parliament Houses.  Stockholm is built upon 14 islands on the waterways from an interior lake that feeds into the Baltic Sea. Drottingholm is located on one of these islands about 8 miles up from the Old Town.  I remember taking a boat to Drottingholm.  It was a magnificent trip with beautiful Stockholm spread around the vista on both sides of the boat.  Then this gleaming yellow, massive palace appears.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  It’s well worth “googling” to see pictures!  Drottingholm Palace also has the only extant Baroque theater from the 18thcentury (I believe) that still has all of the original machinery to make thunder and lightning, moving scenery, and ocean waves painted on wooden planks that are attached to a device that makes them move.  It’s remarkable.  There is also a beautiful royal chapel there. Drottingholm Musik was composed for the wedding in 1744 of Crown Prince Adolf Frederick and Princess Louisa Ulrika of Prussia in the Royal Chapel, and includes 33 pieces of music (movements). Must have been a long wedding!  Delightfully cheerful and Royal sounding, Trumpet Prelude (probably not the original name) is an arrangement for organ of one of these movement.  Enjoy. You are welcome to share this video with friends. Stay safe and well.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565      Johann Sebastian Bach  (1685-1750)

For the 20th video that I have recorded during the pandemic, I wanted to play something special for you. Instantly recognized by a vast majority of the Western world, the striking opening bars of this Toccata justifies its position in a group of compositions like Beethoven’s First movement of the Fifth Symphony and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  Based heavily in improvisation, Bach takes simple, yet unrelated musical ideas and masterfully crafts a Toccata with brilliance and musical depth.  A lesser skilled composer could never have created such striking, imposing music with such simple musical ideas.  The structure of the Fugue is unusual among Bach fugues, in that there are lengthy sections that are unrelated to the subject (fugue melody).  These episodes include echoes and repetitions.  The Fugue concludes with a return of the improvisatory, florid toccata-like passage that concludes the work.  The Toccata has the imprint of much of his early compositional style.  The fugue, however, is probably from the Weimar period, or at least a mature Bach extensively revised it.  This piece sounds magnificently on the Brombaugh organ and is more challenging without a page turner or stop puller, but I managed it.  Enjoy. You are welcome to share this video with friends.

Aria:  Jerusalem, Thou that Killest the Prophets from the Oratorio: St. Paul – Mendelssohn (1809-1847) with special guest, Sonia Cummings, Soprano

At age 25, Mendelssohn wrote the Oratorio, St. Paul, employing the story of Saul of Tarsus and his transformation to Paul on the road to Damascus when he changed his life’s course and became an apostle, follower, and teacher of Christ.  This aria is taken from the first scene of the oratorio and the Biblical account of Saul of Tarsus and his presence in Jerusalem when the mobs took Stephen, a follower of Christ, and killed him by throwing stones at him (Acts 7). (By the way, St Stephen’s Day, honoring this first great Christian martyr, is December 26, the day after Christmas.). This aria is a response to the killing of Stephen with the text taken from Matthew 23.  It is a magnificent aria, one of my personal favorites for the soprano voice, and Sonia sings it so beautifully. Sonia finished her Masters in vocal performance at the University of Oregon in June.  She and her finance are returning to Wisconsin at the end of October where he will complete his degree there.  We are so grateful for her time with us at Central.

Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission by Ennio Morricone  (1928-2020)

During the 18th century, Spanish Jesuit priests came to South America to educate and convert the indigenous people of the new world.  They imported musical instruments and musical scores by Antonio Vivaldi and other Baroque composers and proceeded to teach the young people to play the instruments. National Public Radio aired a segment  a number of years ago detailing the tradition that was started 200 years ago which is still flourishing nowadays in some areas.  The élan and brilliance of these young musicians is quite inspiring to hear.  The film, The Mission from 1986, details some of the work of the Jesuits among the native peoples of South America.  Ennio Morricone wrote a brilliant score of beautiful music to accompany the film from which Gabriel’s Oboe is taken.  Morricone died earlier this summer in July after a wonderful and productive career, having been nominated for six Oscars for outstanding film music, and winning two, including an Academy Honorary Award for contribution to film music plus Golden Globes and Grammy awards and many other world-wide awards.  Enjoy. You are most welcome to share this video.

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