Our Sanctuary Choir participates at the 11:15 AM Sunday worship service. Led by Dr. Charles Hausmann, Director of Adult Choral Music, and Kathryn White, Coordinating Music Director & Organist, the Sanctuary Choir presents hymns and inspirational choral classics both in worship services and in concerts throughout the year.
For more info contact Tracy Stidam, Worship & Music Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-490-0946
MDPC Sanctuary and Kinkaid Upper School Choirs | Sunday, May 1
Beethoven and Bernstein Unite for Peace: A Gala Concert at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church for the greater Memorial Community
When you think of revolutionary composers who wrote music that pushed the limits of convention and accepted norms in their own times, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) certainly would come to mind. Both were virtuoso pianists, teachers, conductors, and composers who are revered today for their monumental contributions and lasting legacies. Two of what are considered their greatest masterworks, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven and MASS by Bernstein, will be paired in a concert featuring the combined forces of the Sanctuary Choir and Soloists of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC), the Kinkaid School Concert Choir (Cindy Harrison, director), and a professional orchestra.
Led by Dr. Charles Hausmann, Professor of Choral Studies, Director Emeritus of the Houston Symphony Chorus, and Director of Traditional Music at MDPC, the concert will be characterized by a unifying theme of peace and unity among people of all ages. These monumental works are seldom heard together because of their scope and required forces, but their themes bind them in a unique way.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is one of the most widely recognized works in the orchestral canon. Performances of it often commemorate significant events and festivals. One important example of this involved Leonard Bernstein himself, when he conducted the Symphony in 1989 to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Instrumentalists and singers from East and West Germany, in addition to performers from Russia, England, and France – former enemies – performed together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.
This symphony, Beethoven’s last, defied normal classical structure and proportions, and helped develop new concepts of sound and form that became 19th-century Romanticism. When it was first performed Beethoven, who was completely deaf at the time, assembled the largest orchestral forces he had ever employed. Most significant is the use of solo and choral voices in the fourth movement finale (the movement performed in this concert). The use of voices in a symphony had never been done before, and Beethoven demanded much from his singers. The writing is technically demanding, requiring vocal ranges and sustained dynamics that were extremely challenging then, as they are now.
The fourth movement has been referred to as “a symphony within a symphony” since it is divided into four main sections combining thematic material from the first three movements, in addition to new ones. And when the music cannot be contained any longer in a traditional “classical” format, Beethoven has the orchestra explode into a kind of musical pandemonium that is brought back into focus only when the baritone soloist enters demanding a stop to the chaos and a plea for joyful unity. Finally, the familiar theme, “Ode to Joy,” is sung by the soloist with the choral voices soon joining to sing the familiar words of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode.
Of striking musical contrast to the Ninth Symphony is Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, which the composer subtitled, “A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers.” This piece is not a mass in the catholic sense of the term, however. It is more a piece for the masses – for humanity. The text is a mixture of the traditional Latin liturgy of the Roman Mass, Hebrew words from the Kaddish, and lyrics from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz that express a crisis of faith, which eventually leads to a celebration of life.
MASS was composed in 1971 to dedicate the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This was during the height of the Vietnam War, a time of dissatisfaction and upheaval in the United States. It also was a time of culture clash and anti-establishment sentiments, especially among the youth of the day. MASS attempts to bring resolution to this societal conflict over hope and faith.
The music itself is a confluence of styles including classic, jazz, blues, Broadway, and rock, often juxtaposed and in direct contrast to what has preceded. It is Bernstein at his most provocative and includes all of the genres he has used before, but now combined. If you are familiar with his music for the musical West Side Story, or his popular choral/orchestral work Chichester Psalms, you will hear some of the same use of rhythmic motives and melodies. It is music that is highly expressive of the sentiment in the text, much the same as Beethoven accomplished in the Ninth.
The idea of combining the forces of youth and adults, amateurs and professionals, and singers and instrumentalists was a natural one, since both Beethoven and Bernstein conceived of these works being performed in exactly this way. This will mark the first collaborative performance between the Kinkaid School and MDPC. Cindy Harrison, director of choral music for the Kinkaid Upper School has said, “It is a rare event when the choir is able to perform choral masterworks such as Bernstein’s Mass and the finale to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.” Referring to her cherished memory of performing the work under the baton of the legendary conductor, Margaret Hillis, she further states, “I have no doubt that this collaborative event will likewise be an experience that the Kinkaid students will never forget and I am honored to be a small part of this amazing event.”
Personally, as I look back, remembering that I have prepared the Ninth Symphony well over 100 times for performances with the Houston Symphony, the University of Houston Symphony Orchestra, and for other orchestras and choruses, I realize that the anticipation and thrill are always the same. Having had the privilege of working with Leonard Bernstein as a student, I remain inspired by his teaching, conducting, and compositions, and by the impact he had on music and culture. Conducting his MASS, having grown up in the turbulent times that inspired it, is a very satisfying feeling, and one that I look forward to with much anticipation.
Dr. Charles Hausmann
All Youth and Adults are Invited to Join the Choir!
Do you like to sing? Have you ever sung in a choir? Consider serving in this powerful way. The MDPC Sanctuary Choir is an outstanding ensemble of voices of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels. When you are in a choir like this one, your voice takes on new power and you will feel it immediately. Worshipping in song is powerful in itself, but in a choral context it takes on a new dimension!
You can enjoy regular participation or sign on for limited terms, such as individual concerts or church seasons. The calendar is set a year in advance so you can decide how it best fits your schedule. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.. They are instructive sessions to coach your vocal and musical potential.
I invite you to sing this season with the Sanctuary Choir! If interested, please contact Charles Hausmann. You will be glad you did.
Adult Choral Music Director | Dr. Charles Hausmann
Dr. Charles Hausmann
As Director of Adult Choral Music at MDPC since the fall of 2006, Dr. Hausmann conducts the Sanctuary Choir for worship and special events. In addition, he supervises the choral intern program, a support ensemble and training program for young singers and conductors from area universities. The choir’s repertoire includes choral masterworks, and great anthems of the church from the 16th century to the present.
Recent performances at MDPC have included:
- Bach’s St. John Passion and Magnificat
- Beethoven’s Chirst On the Mount of Olives
- Verdi’s Stabat Mater
- Randall Thompson’s Nativity According to St. Luke
- Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna
- John Rutter’s Magnificat
- Rene Clausen’s A New Creation
- Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass
Dr. Charles Hausmann is Director of Graduate Choral Studies and Professor of Conducting at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he has served since 1985. He directs the masters
and doctoral programs in choral conducting and conducts the Moores School Choral Artists, a graduate chamber choir. In addition, he collaborated in the development a new graduate degree program in
Sacred Music which will provide specialized training for musicians interested in working in the church. Choirs under his direction have performed for conventions of the Texas Music Educator’s Association, the Music Educator’s National Conference, and the American Choral Director’s Association.
Dr. Hausmann’s special interests have been in the areas of conducting pedagogy, and choral/orchestral performance. His integrated curriculum for teaching conducting at the undergraduate and graduate levels includes a six level competency based course of study. He is the author of numerous articles and papers and co-author of an anthology of choral music for schools.
As conductor of the Houston Symphony Chorus since 1986, Dr. Hausmann has prepared and conducted the Chorus for more than 500 concerts. During this time he has collaborated with many of the world’s
great conductors in presenting major choral/orchestral masterworks in Houston, Mexico and Europe. Conductors with whom he has worked include: Hans Graf, Christoph Eschenbach, Claus Peter Flor,
Sergiu Commissiona, Robert Shaw, Roger Wagner, Sir Neville Mariner, Richard Hickox, Edo DeWaart, Roberto Abbado, Lawrence Foster, John Rutter, Helmuth Rilling, Jorge Velazco, Peter Schreier, Nicolas McGegan, and many others. His extensive repertoire list includes most of the major choral/orchestral works. Dr. Hausmann has conducted many concert tours throughout the United States, Europe, and Mexico and makes frequent appearances as guest conductor and clinician. In addition, for the past 22 years he has been chorus master for the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria in Mexico City.
Throughout his career Dr. Hausmann has been active as a church musician having served churches in New Jersey, Colorado, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas. His special interest is in how traditional worship can be enhanced through a dynamic choral presence and in the conductor-teacher relationship with choir and congregation.
To contact Charles Hausmann:
713-953-2550 ext 137 | 713-780-3914 (f)
MDPC Sanctuary Choir Performs Carnegie Hall
On May 29, 2011, the MDPC Sanctuary Choir performed Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass in a well-attended concert at one of the finest concert halls in the world.
When Charles Hausmann was invited to conduct this piece in Carnegie, he approached the MDPC Sanctuary Choir Board and they unanimously endorsed participation. With approval by the MDPC Session, and through the generosity of funds in memory of former choir members Donna Park and Dorothy Pyles, scholarships were provided to allow everyone interested in the opportunity to travel to New York.
The five-day trip included lengthy rehearsals with other choirs performing with us from Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Conducted by Dr. Hausmann and accompanied by Kathryn Sparks White, the 200 voices polished the music and began to sound as if they had been singing together for years. On the morning of the concert, the choir rehearsed with the professional orchestra, including White front-and-center on a portative organ. With outstanding leadership by Hausmann, the Carnegie Hall presentation of Haydn’s Mass was well received and everyone was overjoyed with the remarkable experience.
The Times Square location of their hotel allowed members of the group to see numerous award-winning shows, enjoy short walks to famous landmarks, shop, and dine. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and relationship building. On the final night, the group enjoyed a midnight dinner cruise along the New York harbor, and broke out in patriotic songs as the ship docked near the Statue of Liberty.
Hausmann, White, the 57 singers from MDPC, and their nearly 30 family members who traveled to New York owe a debt of gratitude to choir member Mary Gwen Hulsey for her work in negotiating the details of the trip with the New York-based production team. They also thank Tracy Curtis for standing in the city streets directing traffic for the buses, and for calming everyone while waiting in the holding tank at Carnegie prior to the big performance.
The Sanctuary Choir’s trip marks the end of an exciting season of great music in worship, a Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah, and a concert recording for a CD and iTunes of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and great choral anthems. The recordings will be available this fall, when the choir returns for another exciting season of praise and fellowship.
The choir is open to all interested in singing to the glory of God. No choral experience needed!
Missa in Angustiis and Choral Classics of the Faith
MDPC’s Sanctuary Choir performing the magnificent Missa in Angustiis (Lord Nelson Mass) by Joseph
Haydn. The same mass was performed by the choir in May 2011 at Carnegie Hall.
$15 each | Contact Tracy Curtis: email@example.com