StMarksTympanumThe premiere of the re-cast Magnificat from Vespers takes place tomorrow, December 1st 2013, in the first Advent Lessons and Carols of the season at St. Mark’s, 16th and Locust, under the direction of Matthew Glandorf, at 4 pm.

Since I composed Vespers for choir with Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, I’ve been re-sculpting parts of it for modern instruments. Already, choirs have sung Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern with two oboes (or two trumpets, I forget now), cello, and organ, and early next year, with strings and harpsichord. (I’ve even underlaid my own English translation into the new keyboard-reduced octavo.)

Psalm 113, originally accompanied by two sackbuts and early harp, has been sung a few times with piano (piano!—the Piffarites were aghast, but we’re still on speaking terms). Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn was and remains a cappella for 16 separate voice parts. It has (surprisingly to me, for its vocal challenge) become the most-performed part of Vespers; St. Mark’s will take it up again at its Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols, December 24th, 4 pm.

And now, Magnificat has been transformed from its original 3-dulcian, 2-sackbut, early harp, and theorbo accompaniment to one of modern harp with organ. The voice parts have not changed, including the 3-soprano canon on the Magnificat antiphon. And as if there weren’t enough Lutheran chorales in Vespers, another one—”O Jesu Christe, wahres Licht”—snuck in, set in tenor counterpoint against the final antiphon of the three sopranos, right before everything breaks loose in the Gloria Patri.

If not for this, then for any other reason do try to hear what Matt Glandorf and the choir offers at St. Mark’s sometime. The music there is thrillingly beautiful.