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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, June 23

Carol Barnett's "Praise"

Synopsis

In 2008, the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists was held in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and for the occasion a "Minnesota Organ Book" was commissioned. The idea was that six Minnesota composers* would each write a short piece for organ plus one solo instrument, and that the pieces would be suitable for use at a Sunday service.

One of the Minnesota composers selected was Carol Barnett, who recalled thinking to herself, "Well, probably everybody else will do something slow and lovely, so I'm going to do something fast, which means a Recessional. The whole idea of a Recessional is, 'We are done. Let's get out of here!' and one assumes that means getting out into a bright and beautiful day…"

Barnett selected a bright, beautiful, but decidedly unusual extra instrument for her piece—namely the steel pan.

The steel pan is a chromatically-pitched concert instrument related to the steel drums heard in the calypso folk music of Trinidad. Its bright, metallic sound blends surprisingly well with the pipe organ, holding its own against the organ's mighty voice. Moreover, its calypso associations evoke a sense of joyful release—perfect for a recessional, in Barnett's opinion.

She titled her piece, "Praise," and it received its premiere performance on today's date in 2008 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis, with organist Jonathan Gregoire and percussionist Jay Johnson.

*For the record, the six composers and pieces included in "The Minnesota Organ Book" are:

• Cary John Franklin: "Morning Light" (for cello and organ)
• Monte Mason: "The Dances of Our Lady" (for soprano saxophone and organ)
• Janika Vandervelde: "Hachazarah: The Arousal of the Return" (for violin and organ)
• Linda Tutas Haugen: "Invocation and Remembrance" (for trumpet and organ)
• Carol Barnett: "Praise" (for steel pan and organ)
• David Evan Thomas: "Psalm and Dance" (for flute and organ)

The sheet music comes with a CD recording of all six pieces and is available from Augsburg Fortress Music (ISBN: 9780800679118)

Music Played in Today's Program

Carol Barnett (b. 1949) Praise Jay Johnson, steel pan; Jonathan Gregoire, organ Augsburg Fortress Music CD (with ISBN: 9780800679118)

Additional Information

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