NEW CD Announced!
RosaMystica announces a new CD entitled HYMNS
The CD features compositions for Organ and Piano from the last 15 years, by Gregory Hamilton, based on Hymn Tunes form the Christian Heritage.
In celebration of this release, here is an interview with the composer
and Sebasitian Arliss (what has written liner notes for other CD's of Hamilton)
Interview with the artist by Arlis Sempien
So why this CD of hymns? Aren’t hymns kind of provincial and not real music? Aren’t they low class and not really art music?
Well, those terms seem rather arbitrary! I do wish to make the point that I am impressed with the huge swath of inspiration that these little melodies have inspired in so many great composers – I mean just look at Bach, those little Lutheran melodies of say 8 bars inspired all those wonderful cantatas, the organ works (the Great 18 etc…) the monumental passion settings etc. If you look at the melodies, they really are baby simple and you would have no way to know of the river of polyphonic greatness that was to flow from those unpretentious little tunes. And we could mention so many other composers, the Palestrina parody masses, Mendelssohn – the Lobesgan and Reformation symphonies…And not to mention French composers such as Dom Paul Benoit (shameless plug - see my series of recordings of this composer on this label)….Tournemie, Durufle, and so many others. Even if these tunes are not “Art Music” in the sense of the Classical Music Canon, I’d be hard pressed to find another repertoire that has inspired so much great music. Every day publishers come out with new works on these very same tunes…they are icons.
And, I think there is a certain power in that these are tunes that the Christian people have sung for centuries. They have entered into the universal consciousness of believers of every sort. And we can see that in each tradition this flowering of a unique kind of song of hymnody that is of course wedded to the beliefs, distinctions, liturgy and culture of a particular community. What is fascinating, is that in some cases, the composer or author is known, but in some cases these tunes came out of a community response to faith, - a huge example of this is the vast repertoire of Gregorian Chant. None of the authors are recorded! (see the fine book The Advent Project) Certainly this hymnody is vast – from Chant, with its thousand year old history, to the Reformation and it’s movements, to Pietistic and Evangelical churches, of course the Anglicans (“they sang like angels” as the Venerable Bede noted) Methodism, Psalm singing in the Reformed churches, (which fostered many beautiful tunes) Gospel churches of Black, white yellow, you name it…it’s as if each of these communities has a particular charism ( to borrow and Catholic term) to contribute – an idea I find quite inspiring!
Ok. So why do you think you have something to offer to this historical deluge?
Well, the listener will have to judge whether my little offerings are worthy of being attended to. I have enjoyed hymnody over my whole life and have played hymns in worship just about every day of my life. My present ‘real job’ requires me to play for 16 services a week, and there is a wide variety of hymnody sung. So…I guess my offering is simply one composers’ response to this repertoire – of living with it, allowing it to percolate within and offering a response that perks my creative interest. I might also add that I have created hundreds of hymn – based works, and many have been published, these are only some that I consider worthwhile to present.
Well, some of the settings are fairly tame perhaps even boring, but some of them like “Variations – Amazing Grace” and the “Castlewood Fanfare” are pretty hard to stomach, don’t you think?
Hmm. I thought you were going to be considerate! Well if someone doesn’t like it, try the next piece, I make no apologies, as I think one’s inspiration should not be limited to a particular style. I guess in the case of the Amazing Grace Variations, I wanted to write something that was more than a simple sort of syrupy response. I mean, consider the (apocryphal?) story of Newton on the slave ship. How deliciously fitting that this hymn became a staple of the African America Spiritual repertoire. I wanted to tap into this history…and some of the other variations perhaps illustrate this dramatic and varied history. I mean the hymn has been interpreted in just about every musical style known to man, so I don’t think it’s really that far our…however one thing I kind of like about this set is that the theme is in 4/4 which you don’t realize till later….
And I see these strange titles like “Crazy Toccata”, you think you are a pretty funny guy yea?
I’ve been told that occasionally, yes…
Well we can continue this interview when you stop congratulating yourself…
Oh, BTW, the Wikipedia article on this hymn is well, done: we include it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace...
Oh, and I have to include this quote by Steve Turner: "marriage made in heaven ... The music behind 'amazing' had a sense of awe to it. The music behind 'grace' sounded graceful. There was a rise at the point of confession, as though the author was stepping out into the open and making a bold declaration, but a corresponding fall when admitting his blindness.”
Is there a setting you most enjoy on this CD?
I am partial to the Castlewood setting I think this tune by Richard Proulx is a fine hymn, and one of the best of the modern age. Of course, I greatly revere Proulx, and I’ve included settings of two of his hymns on this CD. Music of his music is quite fine…and the O Sacred Head. I think they work musically as narratives, as to whether they are quality music, I look forward to hearing people’s reactions –they can always send comments positive or negative to my website. You know, composers want reactions even if they hate - it that shows someone was affected by it.
You write in many different styles, what does this mean for your overall output? And what do you see in the future?
I don’t really know. I just find composing to be necessary to my mental health. Of course I want people to play my music (every composer has works that they wish people would play more often!) I want to find time to complete some larger projects that I have been tending to – a Large orchestral realization of the Magnificat – another hymn that I have absorbed nearly every day…perhaps the hymn of all hymns, It’s turning out to be quite large scale, so in anyone wants to premiere it, I am open.
We will stop this interview before we have any more plugs, but thank you for your time.
Hey this is my CD right? Anyway, you are most welcome.
©Arlis Sempien 2019
*Madame Mason passed at 92*
There are no words to give justice to the influence Madam Mason had on my life....here is the NYT obituary and I was honored to he interviewed. Her passing is truly the end of an era.
Gregory gives Impromptu concert on Bach's birthday.
Dr. Hamilton gave an impromptu concert of Bach organ works at Holy Trinity Seminary, on Bach's birthday.
New CD Release!
The new CD has been released on RosaMysica Recordings:
Works of Dom Paul Benoit Vol. I
Gregory Hamilton, organ
Recorded at Holy Trinity Seminary, Dallas on the Ross King Organ
Available on Amazon and other Streaming services:
A comment from Dr. Andrew Mead - Professor of Composition and Theory at The University of Michigan.
A comment from Dr. Andrew Mead - Professor of Composition and Theory at The University of Michigan.
"...I have finally had a chance to listen to most of your disk, and many
thanks for it! I hope some time to experience your whole flute and
organ work, with narration. What I hear here is very beautiful, and
fits the implied texts very well. But what really blows me away are
the Schubert variations! What a terrific piece! They suit the
original very well, but are very original in their own right -
congratulations! I look forward to listening to that piece again very
much. Haven't gotten to the rest yet, but will write when I do."
Dom Paul Benoit; Organ Works, Vol. 1 soon to be released
The first CD is a projected series of recording of the music if Dom Paul Benoit will soon be released on RosaMystica Records.The CD is in the final stages of production, and was recorded on the Ross King Organs at Holy Trinity Seminary. Stay Tuned for availability.
Pipedreams features Hamilton's compositions for AGO convention
Pipedreams Show features Hamilton's compositions for AGO convention
The NPR show "Pipedreams" features performances from the 2016 American Guild of Organists convention in Houston. One of the featured performances is "Fanfare on Castlewood" played beautifully by organist Chase Loomer at the Catherdral of the Sacred Heart.
NEW RECORDING of a rare work by Olivier Messiaen
Hamilton releases on his youtube channel: A first recording of a rare work by Olivier Messiaen: Déchiffrage I from 1934
Morceau de Lecture a Vue pour les Examens de piano de l'Ecole Normale de Musique.
From Messiaen; Peter Hill and Nigel Simone: "Messiaen's military service continued through the summer of 1934. During this time, he composed examination pieces for the Ecole Normale, including sight-reading tests (as he reported to Arrieu on 23 july). At least one of these sight-reading pieces has been published: twenty bars long and marked "Lent, expressif", the Morceau de lecture a vue pour les Examens de piano de l'Ecole Normale de Musique: Déchiffrage I appeared as the musical suppliment in Le Monde musical for October 31, 1934".
A Plethora of New Works
There are quite a few new works and premiers this year from Gregory. Lorenz Publishers continues to regularly publish organ works, for its regular and special publications; The Organist, and The Sacred Organ Journal, over 20 works have been featured.
Composer/Organist Dr. Gregory Hamilton (Dallas AGO member) World Library brought out Ten Gregorian Preludes, Cantica Nova will be bringing out a volume of Alternate Hymn Harmonizations, and Parclete Press will publish I Wonder as I Wander (for SATB, piano and flute).
Three works were recently accepted for the Houston AGO convention (Bayoubüchlein):
Fanfare: Come to us Creative Spirit (CASTLEWOOD), Prelude PECAN STREET and PESCOR DE HOMBRES.
Houston organist Jackson Osborn will premiere a large organ work: In Nomine, a variation and fugue work based on the In Nomine by Thomas Tallis.
Several New works are published by Sheet Music Plus:
Three Pieces for Viola and Piano (also a version for Bassoon and Piano)
In addition, he presented a Lenten recital for St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Dallas, (Michael Conrady, Music Director) of works by Dom Paul Benoit.
Hymn of Peace, for Cello and Piano, performed by Diane Winder, Cello, and the composer, piano.
"Jubilate Deo" for organ, by Dom Paul Beoit; from the upcoming release on Rosa Mystica Recordings.
Improvisation #16, with art by Maurice Denis:
Videos form "Cupids New Arms of Love"- the Orchestra of New Spain - A great production. Gregory is playing theorbo in the orchestra.
Three winners for AGO competition
Three winning pieces by Gregory have been selected for AGO (American Guild of Organists) Houston 2016 Bayoubüchlein Competition. The three pieces are organ works on 20th century tunes' Castlewood" "Pecan Street", and "Pescorores des Hombres". All three will be published in the upcoming volume by Selah publishers, and Castlewood will be performed at the AGO conference in June.
A new Premiere given by Jackson Osborn
Virtuoso organist Jackson Osborne will present a recital at the Santa fe NM National Winter Conference presented by the St. Basil School of Chant".(St. Thomas university, Houston) The concert will take place 7:30 February 2nd at First Presbyterian Church in Santa fe. Mr. Osborn will present a new organ work by Hamilton, "In Nomine", which is is an extended organ work on the theme of "In Nomine" by Thomas Tallis. The work may be found on the Sheet Music Plus site.
This marks the fifth work that Mr. Osborn has premiered by Hamilton, thank you Jackson!
Kudos to the great creative work Mr. Jackson and Mr. Lovell are doing for Sacred Music.
New work by Paraclete Press
Paraclete press will publish "I Wonder as I Wander" for SATB, flute and piano (Organ).
Hamilton's works on Sheet Music Plus
A large portion of Gregory's works are available as instant downloads on Sheet Music plus.
Search under Gregory Hamilton
Organ works, chamber music from the Illuminations CD, piano and orchestral music, hymn arrangements etc!
Jackson Osborn gives premiere
Houston virtuoso Jackson Osborn gave a wonderful premier performance of the work he commissioned from Gregory, z%Three Trios on Immensa Trinitas. %Three three voice trios on the Trinity! The cantus firmus migrates from the bass in the first trio to the middle voice Tierce en taille, to the top voice in the last trio. The work was given the usual Osborn panache as well as fine performance of works by Bach. Tournimiere and others. The recital was given at Holy Trinity Seminary on the new Ross King organ.
Lorenz Publishes Hamilton
The Lorenz company has published over a dozen of Hamilton's works this year. A wide variety of organ music has been released, from hymn-based preludes, to variations and free works for liturgy or concert. Thanks to Douglas Wagner, editor.
10 Chant Preludes out!
World Library has just released 10 Chant preludes for organ in its organ music series. The publication features accessible arrangements of the most well known chant tunes - eternal music.
Hamilton is named 'composer in residence' for All Saints
Gregory has been named 'composer in residence' at all Saints parish, Don Essmiller music director. All Saints Parish in Dallas has one of the most highly developed and cultured music programs in the city, and is widely considered a model for the Catholic Liturgy.
Dr. Hamilton has written a number of new works for All Saints, including a new choral arrangement of "Lo How a Rose" premiered this past Christmas, as well as orchestrations for full orchestra and choir of hymns and liturgical music.
New score from World Library Publications
WLP (also J. Paulach) will be bringing out a volume of works by Gregory for organ, based on Gregorian Chant. The works are intended to introduce organists to chant, and include a variety of styles suited for the intermediate organist. Publication date to be announced.
New premiere scheduled for May
Virtuoso Organist Jackson Osbourne will present a major new organ work by Gregory Hamilton. The new work is titled Three Psalm Pictures, Second Set and is the second set of these compositions for organ.
The premiere is part of Mr. Osbourne's concert in May 20th, 2012 at Our Lady of Walsingham Church in Houston Tx. Other works will be by Ropek, Langlais and Bach. Stay tuned for more details.
New music release from Augsburg Fortress
Augsburg Fortress publishers has just released Piano Blessings,
A collection of original hymn-tune preludes.
This marks the third collection of piano music of Gregory's to be published by Augsburg.
Organ Re-dedication in Fort Worth
Dr. Hamilton played the re-dedication recital on the 1923 kilgen organ at St. Mary's of the Assumption church in Fort Worth tx. The organ, one of the last remaining historic organs inFort Worth was restored by the Roy Redmond organ company.
Organ Rededication in Mckinney Texas.
On April 3rd 2011 at 6:00, St. Michaels' Church in Mckinney Tx. hosts the rededication of their fine Ross King organ. Featured artists are music director Valerie Stagaman, Donald Fishel, flute and many others.
New Work "The Lamentation"
A new work for piano; "The Lamentation" was premiered on March 16th 2011 at the University of Dallas. The work is an extended reflection (15 min) on the Icon of the Lamentation. Stay tuned for other performances.
CD by Gregory Hamilton Released!
A new cd by Gregory had been released on RosaMystica!
Illuminations, Chamber Music of Gregory Hamilton
Go to cdbaby to hear and purchase! -
Dr. Hamilton is now accepting commissions for new compositions from churches, schools choirs, chamber ensembles, orchestras and solo instrumentalists. Feel free to contact me to chat about your project and make it a reality!
Five Psalm Pictures received world premiere.
The Five Psalm Pictures, with Amanda Anne Landry as lector,
received their world premiere at St. Theresa church in July of '08.
The colorful pieces were well received by the appreciative audience.
Gregory also played American works by University of Michigan composer James Aikman (Postlude a world premiere), Charles Callahan and also early American keyboard music from the 18th century.
The Five Psalm Pictures have been performed in Ann Arbor as part of the AGP festival. Also, Marilyn Mason's students performed Prelude for Madame in a program of music dedicated to and commissioned by her.
The Symphonic Organ
We had excellent attendance at my recent recital at St. Theresa Church; "The Symphonic Organ" which featured works of Bach, Dale Wood, Dom Paul Benoit and Cesar Franck. Many thanks to those in attendance!
I conducted my commissioned arrangement of "The Church's One Foundation for the opening Processional in April 08 for the Dedication Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. The setting is scored for full orchestra, and choir, and includes choral settings of the Introits for the Dedication of a Church. With an orchestra of 60, a choir of 110 plus organ and 2000+ congregation, it was a literal blast. The setting is 12 min., and I recived many kind and gracious comments from the choir and orchestra members. Also, I conducted the world premiere of Naji Hakim's Megalanarion of Pacha with the Dedication Choir. Congratulations to the other directors; Kevin Klotz, Chris Popelka, Sarah Black and all who participated in this historic event!
Concert Series at St. Theresa Church
In celebration of the new Aeolian-Skinner-Quimby Pipe organ, (3M/ 53rks) St. Theresa Church is hosting a
First Friday Concert Series.
From May through November of '07, the church featured one concert a month. Gregory performed five of the programs, each concert highlighting an aspect of the organ repertoire:
The Dedication of the Organ (Bach, Benoit Diemer)
-featuring the St. Theresa Choir
The Beauty of the French Baroque
-featuring the St. Theresa Gregorian Schola
American Inspirations (featuring a new permiere by Hamilton)
The Great Buxtehude
-featuring the St. Theresa Mixed Schola
In addition, the Houston organ virtuoso Dr. Joanna Eliott performed
to a large a receptive crowd.
Several of the concerts also featured the church's beautiful 1985 Hubbard Harpsichord.
See more at http://www.sttheresasugarland.org
Dr. Hamilton has been appointed music director for the Rome Pilgrimage Choir, which is travelling to Rome, for the Costistuery mass for Archbishop Daniel deNardo, who has been named a Cardinal. There will be a number of masses with the choir, including a mass at the historic Basilica of St. Mary Maggiore. Choral works will include Ubi Caritas by Durufle and Ave Verum by William Byrd.
Recitals and Performances
In September, Gregory was invited to present an organ recital at St. Benedict's Abbey, in Atchison Kansas. The recital was part of the abbey's 100 year Centenary Festival The Abbot of St. Benedict's was a cantor in the Veni Creator suite by DeGringny. Gregory also performed a recent work Fantasia: Amazing Grace.
Breath of the Spirit is slated to be performed by Duo Pneuma (Marilyn Mason, organ, Donald Fishel flute,) at the 2006 Festival Toussant in Brussles, Belguim. The Duo will also perform movements
from the work at First Presbyterian Church, in Farmington Michigan
The duo will also perform the cycle for the 45th University of Michigan Organ Conference, October 1st.