April 4: Easter Sunday

April 12, 2010 at 1:27 am (Music, Spiritual)

All thanks are due to my friend Emma, through whose kindly offices I experienced an Easter Sunday filled with prayer and gorgeous music.

For two years now Emma and I have regularly attended the concerts presented by Bach in Baltimore at Christ Lutheran Church. I have come to love  this church. It was built in 1955, but the interior resembles a church built in 1555. If Martin Luther himself were to come striding down the center aisle, it would seem entirely right and proper.

In his welcome message, the pastor wrote: “Whether you are a committed Christian or someone searching for deeper spiritual roots and a closer connection with God, we are delighted that you chose to worship with us today.” The part after the “or” – that’s me. So I was very grateful for this.

And then: what a splendid celebration! Not just heartfelt prayers – but glorious music – Drums! Trumpets! Timpani! And of course, the mighty Andover 114, the organ that at its most fulsome seems to be “playing” the entire sanctuary.

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Afterward, Emma and I had a delicious brunch. We then sat for a time in a small, lovely park at the Inner Harbor. The sun shone brightly; the air was delicious. Folk frolicked, rejoicing in the ability to get outside and have fun after the punishment of this past winter.

(The ship is the USS Constellation.)

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And then, back to Christ Lutheran for yet more music, this time courtesy of Bach in Baltimore…

First on this afternoon’s program was an aria from Bach’s Easter Oratorio, beautifully sung by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Blades. Here is the same excerpt performed by Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale. The soloist is German countertenor Andreas Scholl:

The Bach Cantata for Easter Sunday was BWV  67: Halt inGedachtnis Jesum Christ (“Hold in Remembrance Jesus Christ”). Here is the opening chorus, with Helmuth Rilling conducting:

Then it was time for organist Jonathan Parker to astonish us once again with the might and power of the Andover114. He played a piece that fascinated me. It’s got rather a long name:  Choral-Improvisation sur le Victimae paschali, written by Charles T0urnamire  (1870-1939) and transcribed by Maurice Duruflé. I have found a video of a young organist named Jean-Baptiste Robin playing this piece on the organ of  L’Eglise Saint Eustache in Paris.

Decades ago, I wandered into this  church, not knowing anything about it. I was stunned. Looking up, I saw into a vastness that seemed to extend up to the heavens.

Maestro Dimmock pronounced himself delighted at the treat in store for us at the concert’s conclusion: a performance  of four Hebrew songs by HaZamir. This was in recognition of the recent celebration of Passover. This lovely bit of ecumenism proved a terrific bonus  – these young singers were simply great!

2 Comments

  1. Bonnie Johnson said,

    Roberta – thank you so much for the outstanding music review. The Bach brought me to tears as it always does. I listened to the Easter Oratorio on my cd at home in rural Oregon, but pined for a live performance in such a beautiful church.
    As ever, you are truly inspiring with music commentary as well as books!

    • Roberta Rood said,

      Bonnie,
      Great to hear from you, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your lovely sentiments!

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