"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

Videos

September 8, 2021 | #122 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: Richard Elliott

1. Fanfare for the Common Man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aaron Copland
2. a. Prelude on "Brother James's Air" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Searle Wright
b. Adagio for Strings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Samuel Barber
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
    b. In Cloud or Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .arr. by organist
4. Sine Nomine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Weaver

LISTENER REQUESTED SELECTION Go to the Piping Up! web page to make your request!

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.

“Adagio for Strings” (Barber, arr. Strickland)

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, one of the key musical responses was a longing to hear Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. It was requested over and over again on radio shows, and quickly inserted into concert programs by orchestras across the country. In London, the program for the Last Night of the Proms, which was scheduled for September 15, was immediately revised. The second half of the program opened with Barber’s Adagio instead of the traditional English patriotic favorites. It was a way of affirming that while the attacks took place on American soil, the tragedy was global, felt by all of humanity.

Why this piece? A number of years ago, the British Broadcasting Corporation surveyed its viewers to identify the saddest piece of music they knew. An online poll was set up, and listeners were invited to choose from the five most frequently nominated compositions. Barber’s Adagio for Strings gained more votes in the final tally than the other four works combined. 

And yet, when Sam Barber originally composed this music in 1936, he didn’t think it was sad at all. He knew it was well-written.1 Even the early critics described it as sincere, deeply-felt, and genuine, but nobody thought it was “sad.”2 That didn’t happen until this music was broadcast to the nation at the radio announcement of President Roosevelt’s sudden and unexpected death in 1945. Over the ensuing years, it became a customary anthem of grief.

Samuel Barber was annoyed at first that this music had taken on a funereal tinge, but he must have come to terms with it eventually. In 1967, he wrote his own choral arrangement of the Adagio, using the Latin text of the “Agnus Dei:” “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us!... grant us thy peace!”3

Music isn’t really a universal language, but sometimes it comes very close. Whether performed with or without words, Barber’s Adagio for Strings continues to signify, for almost all its hearers, profound feelings of loss and grief, but also a yearning for mercy and divine peace. That is as true today as it was twenty years ago, when it was music that we desperately needed to hear.

  1. See Barbara Heyman, Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 153.
  2. See Heyman, 157.
  3. https://www.bcponline.org/, “The Great Litany,” p. 150.