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March 09, 2022 | #148 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: Andrew Unsworth

1. Lobe den Herren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Johann Gottfried Walther
2. a. Prélude, from Symphony no. 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Vierne
    b. Folk Tune . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Percy Whitlock
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
    b. Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
4. Semper fidelis March. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Philip Sousa

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.

“Prélude,” from Symphony No. 1 (Vierne)

When hearing an unfamiliar piece of music for the first time, we try to listen for where the melody is, what the accompaniment sounds like, how the tone color or dynamics affect the listening experience, how the texture and form of the piece develop. When I first heard the opening Prélude from Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 1 for organ, it intrigued me. I was listening for a melody, but I heard only accompaniment. There were motifs, certainly, at the beginning, but they seemed to me like little three-note ideas that hadn’t yet coalesced into a real tune.

Now, this wasn’t entirely surprising. Both Bach and Chopin had written keyboard preludes that were “accompaniment only,” if you like, with no melody. Bach’s famous Prelude in C, from the Well-Tempered Clavier, was so obviously free of melody that Charles Gounod added one more than a century later.

But then, as Vierne’s first movement proceeded, and the tone color, texture, register, rhythms, and dynamics changed, I began to hear more clearly that there was, in fact, a real theme. Those little three-note motifs weren’t just motifs—they were part of a larger, grander statement that became clear to me only at the end, though it had been there all the time, from the very beginning.

This isn’t just how I experienced this unfamiliar music; it’s often how we learn important life lessons. Repetition, and a new context, can reveal things that were always there, but not always clearly comprehended. Inspired writers from the past have taught us that an understanding of sacred truth is accumulated “precept upon precept… line upon line… here a little, and there a little.”1 We will learn it gradually, if we remain engaged, and the important lessons will become clearer and more defined as we stay with them to the end.

That might not be exactly what Vierne was intending in this piece, but it’s one thing I learned from it. Andrew will play now the “Prélude” first movement from Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 1.

  1. See Isaiah 28:9-10. See also 2 Nephi 28:30.