Patrick A. Scott

PatrickScottYouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/pascott123/videos

Dr. Patrick A. Scott was recently appointed as the new Assistant Organist-Choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Texas — where he studied with the late Dr. Gerre Hancock and Gerre’s wife, Dr. Judith Hancock. At the 2014 AGO convention in Boston, he won first place in the National Competition in Organ Improvisation.


Videos:
Stations of the Cross:
Station I: (What Wondrous Love)
Station III: Jesus Falls the First Time
Station V: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
Station VII: Jesus Falls the Second Time
Station XI: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross and Station XII: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Review and Recovery

Wow, what a trip! After two weeks on the road attending the Association of Anglican Musicians Conference in Washington, DC AND the AGO National Convention in Boston, it is nice to be back home. One of the reasons I chose to pursue the organ rather than piano was the joys of congregational singing. For me, there is very little more exciting musically than a room full of people raising their voices together in song (accompanied by the organ). The hymn singing at both of these conferences did not disappoint. I think I heard someone describe the three volume levels of conference singing as sing, stun and kill! Whether it was new music or old standards, everyone at the conferences sang gustily every time they were given the chance.

When a congregation sings well, the organist has many more liberties in what he or she can play. When I was studying at Westminster Choir College, the music director at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton was John Bertalot. He is a fabulous hymn player, so I asked about taking lessons from him. His reply: “Why do you want lessons? Hymn playing is easy. You play anything but what is on the page!” What always amazed me then was his ability to do that while the choir and congregation sang the harmonies as they were printed on the page. (The simple way to practice this is to invert the voices or solo out the alto or tenor instead of the soprano melody – that’s what we covered in my first lesson.) With daily worship during AAM, there were plenty of opportunities to experience such fabulous hymn playing (in addition to some excellent choral singing). This was my first AAM conference, and I plan to attend next year when the conference will begin literally in my back yard with a pre-conference day in Winter Park and Orlando before moving over to Tampa.

After a brief stop in New York, I journeyed on from Washington to Boston for the AGO convention. Unfortunately, I missed the hymn sing led by Richard Webster on Sunday evening. If I had seen the poster beforehand with the quote from the Chicago Tribune – “Gabrieli meets Darth Vader.” – I might have expedited my travel plans a little to make sure I was there.

NCOI

The first event I was able to hear was the National Compeition in Organ Improvisation (NCOI). As described last week, five competitors performed two improvisations on themes given to them with 30 minutes of preparation time. This round was held at First Lutheran Church of Boston on the Richards, Fowkes & Co. organ. Bálint Karosi is the music director there and served as host. The organ (full stop list here) is in North German Baroque style, and this fact proved to be one of the larger difficulties for the candidates.

The themes for the first task (a chorale fantasy, partita, or suite) were the hymn tune Burns by Bruce Neswick, the chorale Puer nobis, and the chant Pange lingua. We had one improvisation each using the hymn and the chant. The other three candidates chose the chorale. Given the style of the instrument, a partita or fantasy in German style seemed the best match for music and instrument, however the final candidate managed to secure a spot in the finals with a delightful suite in French style on the hymn tune!

The second task of the semifinals was free of any imposed form and gave the candidates a choice of using a melody by Benjamin Britten and/or Greensleeves. This is where some of the candidates started running into problem both from a composition stand point as well as using the instrument to convey their ideas. Most American improvisers are used to playing on instruments with pistons for registration changes. This organ did not have pistons. They also have been greatly inspired by the French tradition illustrated by Marcel Dupré and Pierre Cochereau. Unfortunately, many of the techniques and favored dispositions of this style can create hiccups, burps, tremolos and all sorts of other unhappy sounds on an instrument with unstable wind like this one. In discussions with other audience members, it seemed like the last three candidates would advance to the finals, however the judges selected candidates 2, 4 and 5. Competition results can be a mystery sometimes and sometimes the differences between players can be subtle, so while I was surprised by the selection, I also was not surprised.

When I arrived at St. Cecilia Church to hear the finals, we were told that one of the competitors had withdrawn. We later found out that he had returned home the day before to be present for the birth of his child. As he was a strong contender, I was disappointed that he was unable to compete in the finals, however, his excuse was completely understandable and acceptable.

The themes for part one of the final round were King’s Weston by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter by John Williams, and Valet will ich dir geben by Melchior Teschner. The themes for part two were Adoro te devote, lines 151-67 of “Il Penseroso” by John Milton and the painting “The Passage of the Delaware” by Thomas Sully. Both finalists chose to use the Vaughan Williams hymn tune. The second candidate (and winner) also included Valet will ich dir geben. For the second part, we heard an improvisation on the literary passage and one on the artwork. Both improvisers started with a fantasy inspired by the style of Maurice Duruflé. Where the second competitor truly outshone the first was in the abundance of thematic material. Hardly a moment went by when there was not something heard that could not be tied closely to the theme. This difference continued in the second improvisation as well. While there was no musical theme implied by the selected improvisation subjects, the second competitor basically began with a clear statement of a melody that might have been played by a fife accompanying the army across the river. He then proceeded to vary and develop this theme, once again providing us with a piece with thematic material clearly stated throughout. With it’s patriotic and fanfare overtones, I suspect he won the audience prize by a landslide.

The judges for NCOI in Boston this year were Christa Rakich, Carson Cooman, and Edoardo Belotti. The five semi-finalists were Chris Ganza, Matthew Koraus, Douglas Murray, Patrick Scott and Samuel Soria. Second place was awarded to Douglas Murray and Patrick Scott received the audience and first prizes. The next competition will take place in Houston at the 2016 AGO National Convention. I have heard there are some rule changes for the competition, so if you’d like to enter, be sure to keep an eye on the NCOI page at AGO headquarters.

Recovery

While there were many other improvisation events during the AGO convention, I don’t want to be like some of the competitors and ramble along too much, so I’ll save my commentary on those events for another time. These two weeks were a change of pace for me as well as an opportunity to be exposed to some different ideas. Part of continued growth is the opportunity to relax and discover new material. If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear others improvise lately, be sure and check out the YouTube video links at organimprovisation.com. Is there an organist that you don’t know listed here? If so, check out their performances to see if you can gain any new ideas. Being an organist can be a lonely profession, so I am thankful for these intense weeks where I’ve been able to meet, connect, and hear so many other fine organists. Now it’s time to rest and digest all that I took in.

Wishing you a relaxing summer of fun and learning!

Glenn


Recent additions to organimprovisation.com:

Forms:

Organists:

Themes:


Newsletter Issue 10 – 2014 06 30
See the complete list of past newsletter issues here.
Sign up to receive future issues using the box to the right on this page.

Competition and Twitter

This week I am attending the AGO National Convention in Boston. There will be several events that include organ improvisations during the week: a concert by Thierry Escaich, a Hymn Sing with Bruce Neswick and Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, a silent movie accompanied by Peter Edwin Krasinski, and several workshops and masterclasses. You can see the complete list that I compiled here. While I am always excited to see many familiar people and hear some fabulous playing, one of the highlights for me at the national convention is always the National Compeition in Organ Improvisation (NCOI).

After a preliminary selection round by recording, five candidates were selected to participate in the semi-final round. For this round, the candidates will have 30 minutes of preparation time with the themes and then will be required to play 1) a historically inspired improvisation based on a given hymn melody, chorale tune, or plainsong and 2) an improvisation on one of the given free themes, or on one given free theme and a secondary theme of the contestant’s choosing. Total performance time for these two improvisations is a maximum of 27 minutes. While that may seem like a long time to improvise, most candidates usually create a suite of variations on the hymn, chorale, or chant, so it becomes a little easier to fill the time requirement with short manageable movements. In fact, over the years, I’ve seen a few candidates have to end quickly in order not to play too long!

A maximum of three candidates will then be selected to continue on to the final round. The requirements for the final round are 1) a prelude, fantasia, or toccata and a fugue based on given theme(s), which may be sacred or secular and 2) a free improvisation based on a given musical theme or a given nonmusical theme (literary passage or artwork). Total performance time is again limited to a maximum of 27 minutes.

How many of these tasks would you feel comfortable doing now? Even if you aren’t able to hear the competition this week, the AGO has previous competition recordings available in the AGO Store. I found the recording from Nashville in 2012 listed in the Organ Music/Essays/Catalogs category. It also seems like you may be able to obtain other recordings from AGO National if you call and ask.

Now on Twitter

Because I received a request to report on the competition from someone who is not able to attend, I decided to set up a twitter account and live tweet the competition. I’ll eventually post a summary at organimprovisation.com, but if you’d like to follow along as it happens, I’ll do my best to make it informative and entertaining. With everyone following the World Cup, here’s my chance to be the announcer for the “American Cup” of organ improvisation. Follow me at @organimproviser to see if improvisation can be more exciting than soccer!

After a week of competitions, concerts, and workshops, I hope to have more practical advice for you next week.

Hoping you are having a fabulous summer of learning and fun!

Glenn


 
Recent additions to organimprovisation.com:

Organists:

Review:

Themes:


 
Newsletter Issue 9 – 2014 06 23
See the complete list of past newsletter issues here.
Sign up to receive future issues using the box to the right on this page.

Anthony Hammond

AnthonyHammondWebsite:
www.anthonyhammond.com

Equally renowned as an interpreter and improviser, Dr. Anthony Hammond studied the organ in England with Roger Fisher and David Briggs, and in Paris with Dr. Naji Hakim. A graduate of the University of Bristol, he held posts at Chester Cathedral and St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, before spending a period as Sub-Organist at Bristol Cathedral. Today he is the Director of Music and Organist of Cirencester Parish Church. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and winner of the Dixon Prize for Improvisation, his passion for French organ music and improvisation led to doctoral research into the career and technique of legendary French organist and improviser Pierre Cochereau, for which he was awarded his Ph.D. in July 2010.

He has reconstructed a Symphony improvised in 1972 by Pierre Cochereau at St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco, and the score is now published by Dr. J. Butz Musikverlag. This piece is included on his recording A Phenomenon Without Equal.


Book:

Pierre Cochereau (Eastman Studies in Music)

Recordings:

French Organ Masterworks & Improvisations

Improvisations for the Church Year / Organ of St. Mary Redcliffe


A Phenomenon Without Equal / French Organ Improvisation / The Organ of Blackburn Cathedral
Contains reconstructed improvisations by Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupré, Charles Tournemire, and Pierre Cochereau played by Anthony Hammond.

Videos:
Anthony Hammond – four part symphony – Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts
Anthony Hammond – Improvisation on “Pange Lingua” – Bradford Cathedral

Bálint Karosi

BalintKarosiOfficial website:
http://karosi.org/

A respected teacher of keyboard improvisation, Mr. Karosi has served on the faculty at Boston University and UMass Boston and is in demand as a private organ and improvisation instructor. In 2012, he won first prize at the University of Michigan Organ Improvisation Competition and was featured in an improvisation duel with renowned Dutch improviser Sietze de Vries at the National Concert Hall in Budapest. He also won a prize at the Brno International Improvisation Competition and the Rochette prize at the Conservatoire de Genève. He is the Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church in Boston, MA.

AGO Boston 2014

The 2014 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists will be held June 23-27 in Boston. The convention website with complete information may be found here.

Listed below is information about the events at the convention that will include or focus on improvisation:

National Competition in Improvisation:

  • Semi-final competition round
  • Monday, June 23, 9am to 1pm
    First Lutheran Church of Boston
    299 Berkeley Street, Boston

  • Final competition round
  • Thursday, June 26 at 9am

Concerts:

  • 2012 winner concert
  • Robert Nicholls
    Arlington Street Church
    351 Boylston St, Boston
    Wednesday, June 25 & Thursday, June 26, 3:30 pm

  • Concert
  • Thierry Escaich
    Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
    1545 Tremont St, Boston
    Friday, June 27, 9:15 AM

  • Hymn Sing
  • Bruce Neswick and Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra
    Old South Church in Boston
    645 Boylston St, Boston
    Friday, June 27, 2:30 PM

  • Worship: Jazz Service and Concert: Silent Movie
  • Peter Edwin Krasinski
    Old South Church in Boston
    645 Boylston St, Boston
    Wednesday and Thursday, June 25 and June 26, 7:30 PM


Masterclass on Organ Improvisation

Thierry Escaich
Friday, June 27, 1:00 pm

Other workshops:
Tournemire’s Improvisation on “Victimae paschali”: Audio vs. Transcription
Kirsten Rutschman
Tuesday, June 24, 3:00 pm

Practical Aspects of Teaching Tournemire’s Improvisatory Style
Ann Labounsky
Tuesday, June 24, 3:30 pm

Improvisation Pedagogy: Sustainable Musicianship
Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra
Tuesday, June 24, 4:15 pm

Inspired Service Playing: How to Move From Here to There
Joyce Shupe Kull
Tuesday, June 24, 4:15 pm

Accompanying the Divine: Dramatic Improvisation in Liturgy and Silent Film
Peter Edwin Krasinski
Wednesday, June 25, 8:30 am

Extemporaneous Sublime: Indeterminacy and Transience of the Improvised Moment
Zvonimir Nagy

Thursday, June 26, 9:45 am

Harmony by the Numbers – Principles of Thoroughbass Fluency
Dean Billmeyer

Thursday, June 26, 11:00 am