Musical Musings: June 13 – June 19, 2021

Music Notes – Sunday, June 13th:  

This Sunday’s musicians are Aaron Burkle, UUCC Music Director Mike Carney, and UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley.

Centering music: “Etude 5” from Etudes for Piano: Book 1 – Glass 

Performed by UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley, who writes: “This piece starts with a pattern. First just the accompaniment, then other layers one at a time, then combines them all for the last variation: much like creating a tapestry.” About Philip GlassA native of Baltimore, Philip Glass (b. 1937) is one of the most influential musicians of the last 50 years. Due to his frequent use of sparse instrumentation and repetitive elements, he is often classified as a minimalist composer, but Glass himself has rejected that label, feeling it does not take his full range of compositional language into account. Although he often utilizes modern rhythmic and harmonic elements, Glass’s compositions typically follow organized patterns of formal structure that would not be out of place in the music of Bach or Haydn. Glass has written numerous operas, symphonies, and concertos as well as various chamber music. He is also known for his many film scores, which include The HoursKundun, and Notes on a Scandal, each of which earned Glass an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. Now in his eighties, Glass still composes and performs with the Philip Glass Ensemble. 

Opening Hymn: ‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple

“Simple Gifts” is one of the most familiar and beloved American songs ever written. It was originally composed as a ‘dancing song’ in 1848 by Joseph Brackett, Jr. (1797-1882) for the Shaker Settlement of Gorham, Maine. The song remained relatively unknown outside of the Shaker community for nearly a century, but it entered the American mainstream in 1944 when Aaron Copland (1900-1990) prominently featured the melody (which Copland had discovered in a Shaker songbook borrowed from his local library) in his orchestral suite Appalachian Spring. Simple Gifts is hymn #16 in our Singing the Living Traditionhymnbook. 

Sung Meditation: Come, Come, Whoever You Are

#188 in our Singing the Living Tradition hymnal, “Come, Come, Whoever You Are” has been a favorite song for many years in thousands of UU worship services and events. The words, welcoming all without condition or exclusion, are from the renowned 13th century poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273). The overlapping round melody was written by poet, musician and UU minister Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar (b. 1963), who currently serves as minister for lifespan learning and editor of Quest for the Church of the Larger Fellowship. 

Offertory music: “Etude 7” from Etudes for Piano: Book 1 – Glass 

Performed by UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley, who writes: “This one is a set of variations. Textures, rhythms, and dynamics vary, but the melody never changes. It holds everything together like a common thread.”

Closing Hymn: May Your Life Be as a Song

#1059 in our Singing the Journey hymnal, “May Your Life Be as a Song” is an adaptation of a Russian folk melody, created by UU composer, performer, activist, and friend of UUCC Jim Scott (b. 1946). Jim is also responsible for several other songs found in our hymnbooks, including “Gather the Spirit” and “Nothing but Peace Is Enough”. The version of “May Your Life Be As a Song” you’ll be hearing (and hopefully singing along with) this Sunday will be led by UUCC Music Director Mike Carney with Aaron Burkle, percussion. 

Postlude: Allemande in the Style of Bach – Tooley 

Our postlude this Sunday is an original composition by UUCC Pianist Karin Tooley, who will perform her own work in our service. In the composer’s own words: “I wrote this as an assignment in my CIM days when I was learning about counterpoint and the musical rules of the eighteenth century.”

                                                                         –Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director