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January 12, 2022 | #140 Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square

Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is streamed online every Wednesday at 12:00 noon MDT. Piping Up! can be viewed on TheTabernacleChoir.org, the Choir’s YouTube channel, the Choir’s Facebook page, and Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. When concerts are concluded, they are available for on-demand viewing on the Choir’s website, YouTube and Facebook.

These programs continue the tradition of noon organ recitals at Temple Square—a tradition that has lasted for more than a century. The concerts are produced without an audience and comply with all COVID-19 guidelines. Each concert will feature a different Tabernacle or Temple Square organist and is hosted by Luke Howard.

Repertoire

Organist: Brian Mathias

1. Toccata in Seven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .John Rutter
2. a. Fugue in G Minor ("Little") . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Johann Sebastian Bach
    b. Choral, from Symphony no. 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Vierne
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
    b. Beautiful Savior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
4. Toccata, from Plymouth Suite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Percy Whitlock

Focus Piece

An on-going feature of Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is a focus piece with additional inspirational background on a specific repertoire selection. Written by host Luke Howard, a professor of music at Brigham Young University, the focus piece connects the music in a unique way to lift and inspire listeners.

“Toccata in Seven” (Rutter)

John Rutter was in his late twenties when Oxford University Press commissioned an organ piece from him, even though organ wasn’t really his instrument. Rutter did have some experience at the keyboard—he’d taken piano lessons as a child. But his strengths lay elsewhere.

While still a student at Cambridge, some of Rutter’s first compositions for choir had already appeared in print, including his well-known “Shepherd’s Pipe Carol,” which he wrote when he was only 18 years old. Rutter loved the choral traditions of the Anglican church, and naturally the pipe organ wasn’t too far removed from those traditions. So the request to compose a piece for organ wasn’t entirely surprising, but it did take Rutter a little out of his comfort zone.

The volume was titled “A Second Easy Album for Organists: Six Pieces by Contemporary British Composers,” and it included works by some of the most respected names in British music: Alan Ridout, Herbert Sumsion, William H. Harris. Rutter, the youngest composer of the group, contributed the dazzling “Toccata in Seven.”

It didn’t really signal a new direction for him, though. In fact, since composing that Toccata in 1974, Rutter has only written two other works for solo organ. To date, more than three quarters of Rutter’s compositions are choral pieces—that’s his strength, and primary focus. But Rutter has continued to write an occasional instrumental work here and there regularly throughout his career. His passion for choral music is matched by his conspicuous talent, but his musical curiosity—a desire to try out other, new endeavors—is part of the reason all his music stays so fresh and gratifying.

Albert Einstein emphasized the value of this “holy curiosity” as he called it,1 the willingness to explore new ideas as a means of discovering important new truths, and refreshing our spirits. It certainly seems to work for John Rutter every time he steps away from choral music for a moment to try something else.

  1. See William Miller, “Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity’,” Life (2 May, 1955), 64.