Ad Wammes is a living composer based out the Netherlands. This is a live recording of a performance given at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio.
As an organist I am often called to take part in the most important rituals of people’s lives such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and confirmations. It’s a role that I love to have in people’s lives whether they realize it or not. But I’ve realized that working for an urban Episcopal Church in the center of a large southern city also has societal ramifications as well. Last Wednesday, November 7th, 2018, marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust. That evening in 1938 is called Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, because of the sheer amount of glass that was broken from the windows of Jewish businesses and homes. To commemorate the anniversary, Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC hosted an event which honored living survivors of the Holocaust. St. Peter’s Choir was asked to sing an anthem as a musical offering.
Throughout the service I was reminded of how present oppression and racism are in today’s society. The mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was especially fresh in our collective memory that evening. Then I remembered walking into Temple Israel that evening and noticing the presence of armed police officers. Is that what it takes to be safe against threats? Towards the end of the service, the Rabbi Murray Ezring asked all of the people who were at the service to stand up if they were not Jewish. About a third of those present stood up to receive the thanks of the Jewish community. Rabbi Murray Ezring then said that the reason he felt safe was because we were there. It is that moment that is seared into my memory permanently. He felt safe because there were non-Jewish people present. It was a moving reminder to embrace people who are different than you and to choose love above all else.
Tour 2018 was a success! It was a week of personal and musical growth for all the choristers; and me as well. Now I can't wait for our residency at Durham Cathedral, UK next summer. In the mean time, I've uploaded a few pictures below. If you want to read more, click here.
The touring program included:
- William Walton "Jubilate Deo"
- Gabriel Faure "Cantique de Jean Racine"
- Claudio Monteverdi "Cantate Domino"
- Craig Phillips "Psalm 34"
- Rollo Dilworth "Down By The Riverside"
- Bryan Kelly "Jamaican Canticles"
- John Symons "Make a Cheerful Noise"
- Johannes Brahms "Liebeslieder Waltzes"
- Eric Whitacre "Seal Lullaby"
- Moses Hogan "My Soul's Been Anchored In The Lord"
- John Rutter "The Lord Bless You and Keep You"
May 21st, 2018 was my first day on staff at St. Peters & The Choir School in Center City Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, less than a month later, we are two days away from Thursday June 14th. This is the day we load the buses at 7am in Charlotte and sing a concert at All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia at 7pm that evening. Our traveling party consists of 52 choristers aged 10-18 and their 10 fearless chaperones. In addition to Richmond, the touring ensembles of The Choir School will sing at St. Patricks Episcopal Church in Falls Church, Virginia, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Burke, Virginia, St. Paul's K Street in Washington, DC, and Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Don't worry, we get to have fun too. Tourist visits include the National Cathedral, the Smithsonian Institution, and Kings Dominion Amusement Park.
I have enjoyed the challenge of being thrown into the culmination of a program season, the choir school's 25th annual season to be exact. It has kept me busy practicing and I look forward to being able to take a deep breath after tour is over. But not for too long... Summer is just beginning. There is still choir camp, two choir retreats, a handful of new piano students, and classes for newly accepted students to teach. But of course the ebb and flow of the liturgical seasons and weekly worship has a way of keeping me grounded. Here is a picture from last Sunday, June 10th, with choristers from The Choir School leading worship on Youth Sunday at St. Peter's.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing organ for this collaboration between the Case Western Reserve University Baroque Orchestra and trombonists from Greg Ingle's studio at Boston University. Enjoy this video taken of our performance on February 17th, 2018 in Harkness Chapel.
I am pleased to announce that I have accepted the joint position of Assistant Organist-Choirmaster at St. Peter's Episcopal Church and Assistant Director of The Choir School at St. Peter's in Charlotte, NC. I will begin this new role after I finish my Master of Music Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in May 2018. I graduate on May 19th and my first day is May 21st! Click here to read the announcement from St. Peter's.
The Choir School is an auditioned community choir offering music education and performance opportunities to talented young men and women from every background and every corner of the Charlotte region. Originally conceived as a boys choir in the classic European tradition, the school has grown to include five distinct choirs whose members range in age from seven to eighteen.
The Choir School's Mission Statement:
To enrich and strengthen young lives through excellent, rigorous music education and choral performance.
St. Peter's Mission Statement
Our parish vision is to become a community of bold followers of Jesus, a crowd that effects good change for the world, a place known for radical love and welcome, and a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte. The mission of God’s Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
This performance of Frank Bridge's classic "Adagio" was given at the Blackstone Residence in Bratenahl, Ohio. This piece was the first piece my senior recital on March 24th, 2017. For more information on the Blackstone Residence and Pipe Organ, click here.
A recent gift to The American Guild of Organists has endowed a scholarship fund that provides $60,000 every year to 6 organ students in the United States. I am excited to say that out of over 50 applicants I have been chosen as a winner and will receive financial support for the remaining three years of my Bachelor of Music Degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Click here to read the press release from the AGO.