Every month, in this space, we will hear from our new director of Music, Justine Koontz, about what we’re doing, where we going, and get a glimpse into the planning going on. Read on!
In some ways, choral conductors are the envy of the musical ensemble world. Choirs and vocal ensembles have been around for a very, very, very long time. The modern orchestra only came into being in the mid 18th century and concert bands came along in the following century. But we know that choral music was probably first performed by the ancient Greeks. Our modern SATB choir isn’t so modern—this standard ensemble first appeared in the Renaissance era. This makes the task of choosing music a lot of fun because there is so much music to choose from. This also makes the job very hard because there is so much music to choose from.
I’m very grateful to have found a wonderfully creative musical space at Memorial Episcopal. Memorial values a high-quality music program and has, in the past, drawn on the beautiful historical canon of the Anglican church. However, recognizing that there is much more to sacred music than the Anglican tradition, Youngjin, the choir, and I are working to diversify the musical offerings at Memorial.
You may have noticed an increased number of spirituals and more music taken from LEVASII. Youngjin has played from the Western canon of piano and organ music, but has also folded in some non-western pieces including a Korean folksong arrangement. I just placed a music order including music from South America, written by women composers, and African-American spirituals. If we want our church to reflect the diversity that is Baltimore, then our music should, too.