Organ Vespers with Schola Aliquando

¶  Monday 5 January
     The Eve of the Epiphany
     St Austin Catholic Parish

A long-brewing project is now coming to fruition. For the Region VII Convention of the American Guild of Organists held in Austin in 2013, I formed Schola Aliquando, with whom I presented Vespers for the Visitation of the BVM featuring chant-based organ polyphony of the early seventeenth century in its native habitat, i.e. in alternation with the sung chant.

Since then, and particularly in the second half of this year, I have been working to establish a series of Organ Vespers that will showcase not only the extensive chant-based organ verset literature of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, but also other genres – short intonations, motet-intabulations (i.e., transcriptions of vocal polyphony), and what we now call choral-fantasias (extended works based on chant melodies) – that grew out of the same Vespers tradition. My colleague John Hoffman has graciously agreed to let us present Organ Vespers at St Austin, which has a fine acoustic and a beautiful German-Baroque-style organ – the ideal setting for this endeavor.

We debut with First Vespers of the Epiphany, featuring hymn-versets by Samuel Scheidt (from his Tabulatura Nova), Magnificat-versets by Hieronymus Praetorius (from the Visby Tabulature), and Michaël Praetorius’s monumental organ setting of ‘Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam’ (from Volume VII of Musae Sioniae).