Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Beginning is Near!

Last Friday I mentioned that this weekend is the start of another church year, and if you are a church organist or pianist that might affect your choice of music. The curious thing about the first week of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, is that the scripture readings chosen for that Sunday are usually pretty gloomy. Much gets written by church folks about being out of step with the surrounding culture (often but not always that is viewed positively) and this time of the year illustrates that pretty well. While the culture at large is looking for good vibes and happiness during the entirety of the Christmas Season, which has been underway for quite a while already, the church is under the impression that Christmas won't arrive until, well, Christmas Day, and that the season beforehand is actually a rather bleak time. Time for reflection, penitence, giving up things, self-examination--much like Lent, actually, which gets more press. People not from a liturgical church tradition must find this rather odd.

The readings for this first week are particularly dire; signs of the end of days, stars falling from the sky, earthquakes, wars, dogs and cats living with each other (or was that from Ghostbusters?)--so, given the liturgical emphasis of the day, I chose a piece for the organ that is less warm and fuzzy and more apocalyptic.

I bring this up both so you can listen to this hair-raising but wonderful piece, and also so we can have a debate about it in two days. This is the Wednesday portion of the blog, wherein we don't generally discuss matters of religious or church music, but I hope you'll forgive the setup, because on Friday I'm going to be talking a lot about interpretation, which is really more of a Wednesday thing.

I'm going to be thinking about how we play Bach, and what does, or doesn't, constitute a legitimate interpretation, how we think we know, and so forth. I'm also going to play for you three different versions of the same piece I recorded this week and see what you think about them. That's my preamble. Now go digest your turkey and I'll see you in 48 hours!

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