Home Again

Will is home from college tonight. He arrived at the bus station too early for his dad to pick him up after work, so he walked down Wisconsin Avenue carrying all his stuff from college and arrived at Gesu Church where his beloved Schantz organ was waiting for him in the dark organ loft.

Our son recorded a Christmas carol just for me. I thought I’d share  Silent Night with the Hope Blog readers.

He also recorded this joyful fanfare just for fun. This is a fanfare he learned from Organist Emeritus at Gesu, John Weissrock, Will’s mentor in organ from the time he was a very small boy. The fanfare is usually the introduction to Christ the Lord is Risen Today at Easter, but Will whips it out when he is in a particularly joyful mood. He’s glad to be home, and Tom, Mary , Emmy and I are all so happy to have our tornado back for a few weeks from college.

 

WillMaryChristmas

 

For Today

I came across this music from Psalm 42 that I love so much, sung by the (German) Harmony Quartet. Their videos on YouTube, both in English and German, are a frequent enjoyment of mine. Here are the words to that Psalm, and then here is their truly lovely version of it. The spirit of the music lifts up the beauty and longing of the words and fills a heart with peace.

Psalm 42

For the choir director: A psalm[a] of the descendants of Korah.

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

A Joyful Afternoon

Saturday afternoon was our son Will’s graduation recital on piano and pipe organ at St. Joseph Chapel in Milwaukee. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon, a rare one, with temperatures near seventy and with skies that were deep blue.

Willrecital6Will wasn’t expecting many to turn out for his recital, especially on a day like that. We thought that only some family and a few of Will’s friends might be there. We were  surprised and pleased at the group that came out, including several of Will’s organist friends in the area, the headmaster of his school, his headmaster’s wife, a two teachers from his school and school friends. Also, driving all the way from Madison was a blogger friend of mine with his wife and girls, and a pastor’s wife whose husband is now in Illinois. Will’s Aunt Lisa and cousins, Rachel and Anna also attended. The trouble they took to come out and hear our son really touched our hearts!

We are so thankful for Shanti Daya and Sister Mary Jane Wagner who have been exactly the right teachers for Will at this time in his life. God has provided for Will’s needs in so many ways in his music training.

Sitting and listening to the music, some of which  had never heard before by me as he practices in the basement and at other churches (where did that one come from?!), was almost a surreal experience. Who is this young man? Wasn’t he just a little boy playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and running the neighborhood with his Super Soaker?

Now he’s grown up, turning 18 in a few days. It all goes by so quickly. I was comforted, however, by Will’s little sister next to us in the pew at the concert. We still have a young one around for a while yet and all the challenges of education and music training ahead. She will probably start with piano lessons in the next year. I’m not sure I can handle the parent-intensive, twice a week Suzuki violin classes again. But if she shows a proclivity, after a couple years of piano, we will certainly give her that chance, Lord willing.

Will played a quiet meditation on organ at the recital. That was after the very full-blast Bach. When a pipe organ’s sound changes from thunder to a low purr underneath with a quiet melody on top, it moves me to reflection, Tom and I reflected a great deal on 18 years with our son. He is off to Wheaton College Conservatory in August. I can’t say enough about the help of those at Wheaton that has made this possible. Best of all, he will be close enough to see us occasionally, if he can fit us into his schedule! We will all look forward to that immensely.

To those reading this who were able to come out to the recital, thank you for showing love to Will. We are grateful. Here are a few photos from Saturday afternoon.

Will with the Headmaster of Trinity Academy, Dr. Robin Mitchell.

Will with the Headmaster of Trinity Academy, Dr. Robin Mitchell.

 

 

Will with his piano teacher, Shanti Daya on the left, and his organ teacher, Sister Mary Jane Wagner on the right.

Will with his piano teacher, Shanti Daya on the left, and his organ teacher, Sister Mary Jane Wagner on the right.

 

Will with some of his musical friends who came out to hear him.

Will with some of his musical friends who came out to hear him.

Emmy gets ready to go in to hear her big brother.

Emmy gets ready to go in to hear her big brother.

 

Emmy with Cousin Rachel

Emmy with Cousin Rachel

 

The beautiful St. Joseph Chapel.

The beautiful St. Joseph Chapel.

Abba, Father

Translation from the Dutch lyrics.

Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.
You only have searched my heart,
You belong to it.
Let my heart be still fervent,
You never leave alone.
Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.
That my will forever be
Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours and Yours alone.
May my will forever be evermore Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be Yours
and Yours alone.

Lipinski Strad Recovered!

I blogged back in 2008 about getting to hear the Lipinski Stradivarius at its unveiling here in Milwaukee. The violin was stolen from MSO Concertmaster Frank Almond a week ago when Almond was attacked after a concert at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Great news this morning that the violin has been recovered and suspects arrested. Hopefully, Milwaukee will soon enjoy the voice of this incredible instrument again soon. Good job, Milwaukee Police!

 

O Rest in the Lord – by Mendelssohn

Scripture put to music that supports and lifts the text is as beautiful as it gets, because it is truth. Here is one aria from Elijah that has meant a lot to me through the years. It is taken from Psalm 37.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. ~ Psalm 37:3-7

A Little Thunder From Vierne

Will is preparing for three organ auditions at three different schools in the next few weeks. He wrote some things for recently for school about why organ was such a passion in his life, and I thought I would share it.

stroberts1I began piano and violin lessons at age five, percussion when I was twelve, and finally organ before my freshman year of high school. I have spent hours daily practicing one instrument or another for almost 10 years now. I didn’t particularly enjoy the piano, violin or percussion, but when I began playing the organ, I was instantly hooked. In fact, I was so enthralled with it that I quit both violin and percussion soon after, so I could give more time to my new favorite instrument. 3 ½ years later, my passion for the organ has only grown.
 
Thanks to my background in piano, the learning curve into the organ was not difficult. My teacher, Sister Mary Jane Wagner, is an excellent organist who studied in Europe with some of the world’s greatest organ names, including Flor Peeters and Jean Langlais. In my early days of playing, she provided me a solid technical foundation by demanding excellence in rhythm, articulation, and musical details. She never allowed sloppiness or shortcuts in fingering or pedaling—her attention to detail allowed me to progress very quickly into more difficult repertoire, and instilled in me a clean, exciting style of playing.
 
After only a year of lessons, I was presented with my first performing opportunities. Sister Mary Jane had me play several pieces at a weekly concert in October 2011. This performance taught me many lessons about mental preparation for playing—I learned (the hard way) that forgetting to change from dress shoes to organ shoes can lead to trouble in playing the pedals. In January 2012, I also played a joint concert with Mr. John Weissrock at Gesu Parish—performing on the 115 rank Schantz organ, one of the finest in the Midwest. It was a truly memorable experience.
 
In January of 2012, Sister Mary Jane told me about a position at a local Lutheran Church—I played about 36 Sunday morning services there throughout 2012, experience that truly transformed my playing. Suddenly, I was forced to have new preludes, postludes, offering pieces, liturgy and hymns ready every week. I became adept at mastering pieces quickly, accompanying a congregation, and acting in a professional manner throughout that year of habitual performance.
 
In March of 2013, I participated in the American Guild of Organists’ RCYO Competition.willsenior14 It was my first experience playing in competition, and it was incredibly good for me. I had to make appropriate registrations for my pieces on an unfamiliar organ in a limited amount of time, and be ready to perform after only a few hours of preparation on that organ. Although I finished 3rd of the 3 contestants, I got high scores from the 3 judges in the competition, and great insights from all of them.
 
To me, there is nothing quite as exhilarating, satisfying, or profoundly communicative as playing the pipe organ. From the moment I first played an organ, I knew it was the instrument my soul most resonated with—that it reflected who I am better than anything else.”
 
~Will Schlueter
 
Here’s a little clip of Will at Gesu Parish this last week playing a movement of  Louis Vierne’s First Symphony, a piece he is playing for auditions. The clip is only three minutes, but it expresses the full power and excitement of the instrument Will loves!

Old Hundredth

Of the 23 years of Christian radio programming I did, one of the favorite programs that sticks out in my mind was the interview I conducted with one of the editors of the Trinity Psalter, a book of metrical Psalms with accompanying CD’s by the Scottish Festival Choir.

The history of Psalm singing obviously goes thousands of years back in history, but Psalm singing was also a significant part of Christian worship until the 20th century did its damage. The singing of metrical Psalms has been an historic part of Reformed worship, while Lutheran worship tends to use Psalm chant in the liturgy. Whatever the musical settings, Psalm singing incorporates the inspired Word of God into public worship.

Younger generations are often clueless about hymn singing, many believing that gospel songs are actually hymns, and even those are fading in favor of contemporary choruses, or in the worst cases, secular rock songs. (I’m not kidding about that.) But if hymns are now largely unknown to large swathes of the Protestant world, Psalm singing is even less familiar. Old Hundredth, as it was called, used to be a staple in Christian worship, shortened to what some call the Doxology, and then largely forgotten.

I came across this gorgeous rendition of Old Hundredth (the metrical form of Psalm 100.) The music may be at Westminster Abbey in this particular clip, but as one musician put it at a Psalm workshop I attended, metrical Psalms can be sung with a simple piano or guitar, and Old Hundredth certainly used to be sung out in humble little churches as well as big churches all over the West.

Here are the words from the Psalter, sung by those whose trust is in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Psalm is ended, as always, with a metrical form of the ancient Greek words of the Gloria Patri.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Amen.