Tag Archives: music

Listening to the Liturgical Year

woodwinds brass and Hyosang and part choir
Hyosang Park directs the combined choirs and a chamber ensemble at PrincetonUMC

In a NYT article, Choral Music is Slow Food for the Soul, composer Nico Muhly has wise observations about how “the choral tradition operated in a series of interlocking cycles based on the liturgical year, with the music and the musicians playing a role in a larger drama.” Rather than expecting applause, church choir singing is  “meant for worship…to be heard in a state of quiet meditation.. to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”

Muhly’s essay is meant to be a paean to Andrew Gant’s book O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church MusicFor me, it’s an affirmation of how — week after week, sitting in a church pew, listening to the Princeton United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir — opens up my spiritual horizons. I am also inspired by the special music offered during Holy Week.  This year Hyosang Park directs Anton Bruckner’s Requiem on Good Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m.,

As Muhly points out, live concerts of liturgical music follow the calendar.  He finds himself “looking forward to a work’s annual visits as I would the arrival of a long-distant friend.”

Other notable choral concerts of the season — the Brahms Requiem by the Voices chorale on April 8, the Princeton Theological Seminary Choir on April 22, the Bulgarian State Women’s Choir on April 17.

Choristers — and attentive listeners — will agree with Muhly, that the liturgical tradition of choral music brings  “sharp pangs of nostalgia, followed by a sense of gratitude that this tradition has been such an important part of my musical world.”

FYI: At Princeton United Methodist Church, the Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sings at the 11 a.m. worship service. Tom Shelton directs the Youth Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on first Sundays) and the Children’s Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on second Sundays). The Handbell Choir, directed by Park, plays at both services on third Sundays, and a contemporary ensemble plays at both times on fourth Sundays. Everyone’s welcome to — just listen. 

Just 24 Notes, ‘Taps’ is Hard to Play

Having played “Taps” for more than 40 years, the “Lone Bugler” talks with authority on sounding it. “There are only 24 notes, but it is difficult. ‘Taps’ is an emotion; music is an emotion. It is the only time you are laying someone down for the love of the country.”

Three trumpet players, I am pleased to say, are in the Fox family. My son, George Jr., was the lead trumpet during his time in the Princeton High School Studio Band, and two of his children are on the way to being fine players. I love hearing brass play, whether on the parade field or at church. 

So my heart warmed when I read the paragraph above, part of an article, in this week’s U.S. 1 Newspaper.  Dan Aubrey interviewed First Sergeant U.S. Army Retired Richard Pinter, also known as the Lone Bugler, about what it means to play the trumpet at a military funeral. Click here for a read that befits Memorial Day.