Beethoven is not primarily thought of as a vocal composer, but why not? The choral collection compiled by Jan Schumacher, which contains both well-known and unknown choral works by Beethoven and original transcriptions of Beethoven’s works by other composers, reveals a great deal of extremely attractive repertoire.
The widely-held prejudice that “he could not write for voice” sticks to few composers as much as it does to Ludwig van Beethoven. This may be due to the fact that his place in music history is primarily as a revolutionary symphonist and creator of incomparable chamber music like the string quartets and piano sonatas. To take this to mean that he had no understanding of the human voice or did not know how to write for chorus, however, is to draw the wrong conclusion. Beethoven, like nearly every other composer of his age and indeed until the first half of the 20th century (with a few notable exceptions such as Chopin and Paganini), was equally used to composing for voice and instruments.
Just 30 or 40 years ago, the Tenebrae service was foreign to many a church, despite the service’s ancient roots. The Roman Catholic Church embraced it early, but it has only become popular and more regularly practiced in Mainline Protestant churches (and even some traditional evangelical churches) in recent decades.
These “services of darkness,” as they are often called, have become a “bright spot,” one could say, for churches around the world that are looking for fresh and creative ways to impart the Holy Week journey.
Sacred music publishers have responded to the heightened awareness of Tenebrae with a variety of publications that are ready to prepare and present as complete Tenebrae services with appropriate music and narration.
Tenebrae is a special service for Holy Week that can be conducted on Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, or any day of Holy Week when a church has a regular or additional special service.
The name “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” and denotes a service of shadows. The Tenebrae service makes use of gradually diminishing light as candles are extinguished one-by-one to guide the congregation through the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’s burial. more “Dark Is the New Bright”…
Composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he currently resides.
Ola’s recordings include the Decca Classics albums Ola Gjeilo (2016) and Winter Songs (2017), featuring Tenebrae, Voces8, and the Choir of Royal Holloway. His choral and piano works are published by Walton Music and include titles such as the Sunrise Mass, Northern Lights, Ubi Caritas, Tundra, and Ave Generosa. His wind band works are published by Boosey & Hawkes.
For more information, please visit olagjeilo.com or find Ola on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
When did you start composing?
I started playing piano and improvising when I was about five years old. As a child, I had a pretty good ear and was fairly quickly able to hear which notes worked together and which ones didn’t. I didn’t read music until later on because I just wanted to do keep improvising and creating things. I never had a moment in which I decided to become a composer though; it was something I had been so passionate about from a young age, and I never thought of doing anything else. more “Composer Spotlight: Interview with Ola Gjeilo”…
Walton Music serves the choral community by publishing works by noted composers such as Eric Whitacre and Ola Gjeilo, and promoting both new compositions and the preservation of classics such as Vivaldi’s Gloria. Editions in the Walton catalog number in the thousands. Susan LaBarr, Editor of Walton Music, gave Sheet Music Plus insight into what makes their catalog so special and what’s new and exciting in 2017.