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Git Along You Littl’ Doggies

Like Dakota Wind, this live recording by Stephen Smith and Janet Linton recalls the great American West and the triumphs and hardships of the homesteading families that created it during the westward expansion. Yippee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along, Ye’ Littl’ Doggies by Michael Linton, is part of the song cycle Song’s of the Sand Hills. Smith premiered another Linton song cycle, Seven Songs of Franchetti, last month at Carnegie Hall, the studio recording of which is anticipated for release in August 2014.


Canon for Maundy Thursday

Canon Cover
The “Canon for Maundy Thursday” is the final fourteen minutes of a piece of music begun five months earlier. That statement requires some explanation. In 2001, the church where my wife and I were serving as church musicians in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, began construction of a new sanctuary. In tandem with that construction, I began the composition of a series of liturgical cycles, specifically written for that parish’s members and the properties of the new building. Although the project was abandoned and left incomplete, two cantatas, four ceremonial processionals, a kyrie, gloria, sanctus and agnus dei (the “Sinai Mass”), as well as a number of anthems and hymns, were finished and performed in the services.

The cycle began with a cantata for the first Sunday of Advent, scored for tenor, trombone, and piano (the parish had several virtuoso musicians in membership and the cantatas were written specifically for them). A setting of the Old Testament scripture, the cantata took the place in the liturgy typically reserved for the scripture’s reading. It was followed immediately by a psalm, sung by the congregation to this traditional modified Anglican psalm tone.Canon Psalm Tone
This same tone was used by the congregation for singing the psalms through the rest of Advent. On Christmas Eve it was replaced by another psalm tone that was used through Christmas (the psalm was read during Epiphany). But on Ash Wednesday, this tone returned and was used for all the psalms sung by the congregation through Lent.

The Maundy Thursday liturgy included the ceremony of the “washing of the feet”, a ritual in which the clergy and some members of the congregation reenacted Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet, recounted in John 13:17, a part of the service that can be somewhat lengthy and has minimal congregational involvement. The “Canon for Maundy Thursday” was written for this part of the liturgy. The piece assumes the presence of a congregation that is familiar not only with the psalm tone that is the canon’s foundation, but also a congregation that carries with it the memories of all the psalms they have sung to that tone since the first Sunday of Advent five months earlier, and not only the texts of those earlier psalms but also the services of which those psalms were a part. It is in this way that the “Canon” is the final minutes of a
piece begun in late November: it is the musical and theological conclusion of the liturgies that have preceded it. And it is the last choral and concerted music heard by the congregation until the “Resurrexi” introit and following processional hymn that begin the service on Easter Sunday.

First Prebyterian Nashville

Recorded at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville

The text, John 15: 1-17, dictates the shape of the piece. The section of scripture culminates in its final sentence, verse 17, where Jesus reiterates his new “commandment,” or in Latin, “law” (“Hæc mando vobis: ut diligatis invicem”). In counterpoint, “canon” is a kind of musical law where one voice follows another in strict imitation. Using the harmony of the psalm tone as a foundation, the three violins enter in canon with each other, the “dux”, or leading voice of the canon, lasting over ninety measures. In the first verse, Jesus refers to himself metaphorically as a “vine” and the voices of the canon “grow” out of the literal musical “ground” of the psalm tone, twisting around each other like the tendrils of a vine as the piece progresses, the dux moving from the greatest possible simplicity at its beginning (it only has two pitches) to cascading sixteenth notes at its close.

In verse twelve, Jesus first pronounces his commandment, “That ye love one another.” But the command is ironic. Love, any kind of love — between lovers, between friends, between God and His creatures — cannot be commanded, it cannot be forced. To be love, it must be spontaneous and given freely. Anything else is not true love. To exegete the spontaneity required by love, at this point the violins cease their mechanistic canon, breaking into free, melodic counterpoint while the chorus breaks from the strict confines of the psalm tone, erupting into ecstatic utterance. The piece is constructed according to spiraling Golden Mean principles and the end of the canon and the beginning of the free counterpoint marks the Golden Mean of the full work.

Each of the repetitions of the psalm tone is eight measures long, except one.
In verse thirteen, Jesus points to the laying down of one’s life for another as evidence of the greatest possible love. To lay down one’s life is to voluntarily cut it short and that repetition is one measure shorter than the rest. It is also the only place in the canon with a chromatic accidental, a lowered-leading tone in the bass.

In the final verse, the violins reveal — in three octaves — the melody that has always been nascent in the psalm tone harmonization but never clearly presented while the chorus, for the first times, sings the verse in unison. But in the second half of the verse the choir breaks into a new harmony and the measure that was deleted from the setting of verse thirteen is added back, lengthening the standard eight measure variation by one measure. With love nothing is truly lost. The music ends as it began, with the simple two note incipit of the dux and the psalm tone, but ornamented by simple descending D Major scales.


RaphaelA native of Houston, Texas, conductor Raphael Bundage received his training at Texan Christian University and The Eastman School of Music.  Before entering Eastman, Dr. Bundage was supervisor of choral music in the Texas Public School System and while at Eastman he directed of the Eastman Chamber Chorus and served as the assistant director of the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Chorus.  Currently Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities and Opera at Middle Tennessee State University, Dr. Bundage also serves as the Director of Music at Nashville’s First Presbyterian Church and is the State Director of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
NB at Organ
Nicholas Bergin is the Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville. He graduated in May of 2012 with a Master’s degree in organ performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Janette Fishell and was awarded the prestigious Barbara and David Jacobs Fellowship. In 2011, he served as the Interim Assistant Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, and during the fall of 2010, he worked as the Organ Scholar at the Church of St. Michael and St. George in St. Louis, Missouri. Nicholas is a graduate of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, where he studied organ with Donald Sutherland and piano with Seth Knopp. While growing up in Houston, he studied piano with Timothy Hester and attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

John Hill

Recording Engineer John Hill’s recording of the Metropolis Symphony (by Michael Daugherty) performed by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra garnered five Grammy® nominations in 2010.  At the 53rd Annual Awards Ceremony in Feb. 2011, Mr. Hill won two awards in the categories of Best Engineered Album, Classical and Best Orchestral Performance.  He was also nominated the previous year for his recording of Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges (again with the NSO) for Best Classical Album. Professor of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, Mr. Hill earned his B. Mus. from Wilfrid Laurier University and his M. Mus. (Sound Recording) from McGill University in Montreal.  Before coming to MTSU, Hill was an Associate Professor of Music at California State University Dominguez Hills, a professional audio associate at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada and the Co-Director of the Edgar Stanton Audio Recording Institute at the Aspen Music Festival.

Chamber Choir

The MTSU Schola Cantorum is the university’s select choral ensemble, made up primarily of undergraduate and graduate students in voice.  Conducted by Raphael Bundage, the ensemble regularly performs the most important works of the choral repertory and tours in the American Southeast as well as Europe.  Here the ensemble is seen before a performance at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Dakota_Wind2

Composer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University.   He is one of the founding members of REFINERSFIRE.

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Drop, Drop Slow Tears

Continuing with the Lenten season, today’s featured piece is an arrangement of the 17th century hymn “Drop, Drop Slow Tears.” Orlando Gibbons composed the music in 1623 and ten years later Phineas Fletcher set the words below; Luke 7: 38 – As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet […]

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Fairest Lord Jesus Picture

Fairest Lord Jesus

Reflecting upon the season of Lent, today’s featured piece is an arrangement of the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus.” Originally written by German Jesuits in the 17th Century, the text Schönster Herr Jesu is a meditation upon the beauty and majesty of nature that is uniquely experienced each Spring, the splendor of which is only transcended by Jesus, the […]

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Arbores serit – motet in eight parts for Krzysztof Penderecki on his 80th birthday

Arbores Serit - Michael LintonThe motet “Arbores serit”, as many of my recent works, grew out of extended conversations and correspondences with Cody Franchetti and very much bears his stamp.  In talking about teaching, Franchetti reminded me of this passage from the first volume of Cicero’s Tusculanae Disputationes (“the Tusculan Disputations”).  Arbores serit diligens agricola, quarum aspiciet baccam ipse nunquam (The diligent gardener plants trees, not one fruit of which he will ever see).   Certainly, a better charge for a teacher, or an artist, cannot be imagined.  The work must be done, even if the reward is both unimagined and impossible.

Christopher Hibma, Michael Linton, & Krzysztof Penderecki

Three generations of student / teacher: Christopher Hibma, Michael Linton, & Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion propelled me to be a composer when I heard its recording as a college freshman in Illinois (I believe I was the first person at my school to take the LP out of it case and hear it).  Later, in Connecticut, his teaching stretched my imagination and my Christmas Cantata, written much under his happy influence, was dedicated to him.  On his 80th birthday, it is a pleasure to honor the Maestro with this motet.  Penderecki loves trees and has planted and husbanded hundreds on his estate in Poland.  Penderecki’s music will endure, but like those trees which shall continue to flourish, his influence through his students and their students and theirs too, shall echo long after his own voice has been silenced.
— Michael Linton

 

St. Luke Passion


Penderecki - St. Luke Passion

St. Luke Passion: graphic score with original sketch

Symphony No. 8


Conducted by the maestro himself, this mammoth of a choral symphony could be an answer to Mahler’s 8th, “Symphony of a Thousand”.

Michael Linton

 

 

 

 

 

Composer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University.   He is one of the founding members of Refinersfire.

 

Dan Shaw
Daniel Shaw is a conductor and composer and music teacher who specializes in small ensembles. He received degrees in music (B.A. Dartmouth College), choral conducting (M.M. Emory University) and music education (M.M. University of Toronto). Shaw is Founder and Artistic Director of the Connecticut-based Composer’s Choir, a group of eight professional singers which has performed and recorded over 45 works by over 20 composers from across the United States since its inception in 2010. Shaw is also Founder and Artistic Director of the American Radio Choir, a professional choir comprised of distinguished singers in New York City which is dedicated to recording and distributing new works by living American composers.

In addition to his post as Artistic Director of the New Haven Oratorio Choir, Shaw serves as Minister of Music at the St. Augustine Church in Seymour, CT. Previously held positions include Assistant Conductor of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Minister of Music at Middlefield Federated Church, Director of Choirs at the Zion Lutheran Church (Pittsburgh), and Director of Middle School Choirs at Trevor Day School (New York City). He has served on the faculties of Duquesne University and John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

Las fuentes del café del rey moro

Las Fuentes Del Cafe Del Rey MoroIn 1973 Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha came to Wheaton College to perform Isaac Albéniz’s monumental “Iberia,” a work for which de Larrocha was famous. Linton was the student manager of the college’s concert series at the time and learning, as he drove her to the college from her Chicago hotel, that it was the birthday of the pianist’s daughter, Linton arranged an impromptu birthday party at the concert’s close. De Larrocha was genuinely touched and that occasion began a friendship between the pianist and the composer that lasted thirty years.

The suite “Las fuentes del café del rey moro” is a testament of that friendship. Composed in 1975, the work is strongly evocative of Albéniz’s music — and is as treacherously difficult. It was also completely antithetical to the Webern mania that served as orthodoxy in “smart” compositional circles at the time. The work’s brilliant color, melody, and neo-tonality, as well as its emphasis on locale and elements of personal importance both to the composer and his circle foreshadowed things that would become central to Linton’s later music.

The “café of the Moroccan King” was a restaurant in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Built in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition, during Linton’s childhood many of the park’s fabulous Churriqueresque-style buildings had fallen into neglect and much of the park was a picturesque ruin. The suite is an reminiscence of the beauties of that park experienced through the eyes of a child. The first movement is “the avenue of ten thousands fountains”, the second “the pool of the stone lion” and the third is “the fountains of fire and water.” It is dedicated to de Larrocha.
Balboa Park - Main Gate


Lynn Rice-See


Pianist Lynn Rice-See is one of the best known pianists in the South East.
Since her 1982 Carnegie Recital Hall debut, she has performed as recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician on both sides of the Atlantic, playing with the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic and in the US with the Gulf Coast, Huntsville, Johnson City, and Kingsport symphonies. The Ministere de la Communauté Français presented Rice-See in recital in Brussels and the German-American Institute of Saarbrücken sponsored her in a tour of Germany. Between 1991 and 1994 she was a member of the Tennessee Arts Commission, presenting recitals throughout the state. Rice-See is particularly admired for the depth of her interpretations of Berg, Scriabin, and Schubert and has released several CD’s featuring this repertoir.

Rice-See is currently Professor of Piano at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where she oversees the university’s program in keyboard music. A former student of Walter Hautzig, Beveridge Webster and John Perry, Rice-See holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory (B.Mus.), The Juilliard School (M.Mus) and the University of Southern California (D.M.A.). From 1989-2005 she was a member of the piano faculty at East Tennessee State University. She has also taught at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and at William Carey College.

Her critically acclaimed book, The Piano Teaching of Walter Hautzig was published by Edwin Mellen Press in 2008.

Michael LintonComposer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University.   He is one of the founding members of REFINERSFIRE.

 

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I Dream of Jeanie

“I Dream of Jeanie” was written in 1848 by the “father of American music,” Stephen Foster.  This arrangement is from a collection of Foster songs by Michael Linton in 1986. It features the versatile mezzo-soprano and actress Kathleen Shimeta and Janet Gustafson Linton on piano. Be sure to also check out Kathleen’s critically acclaimed recording […]

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Inter Ligna (Burial Motet for Chamber Choir)

Inter Ligna Long walks are not only good for the health they are useful — and economic — palliatives for loneliness.  The summer of 1975 was my first summer in graduate school in Cincinnati and I found myself spending the long, late afternoons, after classes were done and before I had to return to the books, walking through the campus and its adjoining neighborhoods and business districts, a few leafy and lovely, but more seedy and tough.

On one such walk I found myself in the library of the art school. As I browsed the stacks I came across a particularly beautiful book on the medieval monasteries of France.  I slowly turned its pages as I stood at the stack, not bothering to find a desk (I still today vividly remember the slant of the late afternoon sun coming through tall windows to the south), and eventually came across page devoted to the “Plan of St. Gall.”  It was an entry on a 9th-century plan of a monastery accompanied with a modern model of what the plan would have looked like built as well as several details of the manuscript.  One of those details was of the monastery graveyard, located in a wall enclosure at the manuscript’s top.  At its center was a cross around which were drawn stylized trees and an inscription.

The reproduction was small and the Latin text faint, but I was struck by the plan and by the translation: “Among all the woods, the most sacred is the cross, fragrant with the perfume of eternal salvation.”  The late afternoon, the beauty of the book, the depth of the sentiment, my own isolation, all combined to deeply move me.  I quickly jotted down what I could make-out of the Latin text and the published translation and over the next several days composed the setting.  I was much enamored with the music of Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti at the time and the motet’s slow, long dissonances showed their influence, although written for much smaller forces than was typical of their music at the time.

The motet was put away and lay forgotten for decades.  By the time I found it again not only was my Latin much better (and my knowledge of medieval Latin abbreviations) but this most famous of medieval ground plans had a beautiful presence on the web where the manuscript could be studied closely and in detail (http://www.stgallplan.org/).  There I discovered the full (and comprehensible) Latin original and while I considered re-writing the motet to accommodate the full Latin text I decided not to, letting the motet’s Latin text remain a ruin — mutilated but still a recognizable image of itself, just as the manuscript is a ruin as is too western Christianity.  A ruin within a ruin, laying to rest quietly and gently what was once beautiful and new and gave certitude and peace and help from pain, buried in hope of the Resurrection.                —- Mike Linton

Pange Lingua Gloriosi (Processional for Maundy Thursday)

Click to PurchaseOne of the most famous hymns of the late Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Pange lingua gloriosi is given here a thrilling new setting by composer Michael Linton. Scored for two antiphonal string orchestras, winds and organ and originally composed in 2003 to Joseph Bottum’s partial English translation, the hymn is here sung in its original Latin. Intended for use on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday of Holy Week on which The Last Supper is remembered), it is one of a set of three extended processionals Linton wrote for use by the volunteer singers in churches where he served as choir director.
aquinas


 

RaphaelA native of Houston, Texas, conductor Raphael Bundage received his training at Texan Christian University and The Eastman School of Music.  Before entering Eastman, Dr. Bundage was supervisor of choral music in the Texas Public School System and while at Eastman he directed of the Eastman Chamber Chorus and served as the assistant director of the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Chorus.  Currently Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities and Opera at Middle Tennessee State University, Dr. Bundage also serves as the Director of Music at Nashville’s First Presbyterian Church and is the State Director of the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.

 

John Hill

Recording Engineer John Hill’s recording of the Metropolis Symphony (by Michael Daugherty) performed by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra garnered five Grammy® nominations in 2010.  At the 53rd Annual Awards Ceremony in Feb. 2011, Mr. Hill won two awards in the categories of Best Engineered Album, Classical and Best Orchestral Performance.  He was also nominated the previous year for his recording of Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges (again with the NSO) for Best Classical Album. Professor of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, Mr. Hill earned his B. Mus. from Wilfrid Laurier University and his M. Mus. (Sound Recording) from McGill University in Montreal.  Before coming to MTST, Hill was an Associate Professor of Music at California State University Dominguez Hills, a professional audio associate at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada and the Co-Director of the Edgar Stanton Audio Recording Institute at the Aspen Music Festival.

Chamber Choir

The MTSU Schola Cantorum is the university’s select choral ensemble, made up primarily of undergraduate and graduate students in voice.  Conducted by Raphael Bundage, the ensemble regularly performs the most important works of the choral repertory and tours in the American Southeast as well as Europe.  Here the ensemble is seen before a performance at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Dakota_Wind2

Composer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University.   He is one of the founding members of REFINERSFIRE.

Dakota Wind

Click to Purchase


Here is the great new American music – here is musical composition that captures the majesty of our land and the spirit and intelligence that created it. – Catherine Austin Fitts

Each region of America, I have long thought, ought to have its own anthem. And now the American West does —    especially the Dakotas and the whole Upper West: the badlands, the good lands, the lands where there live giants in the earth.  –  Michael Novak


Dakota_Wind_1POET The author of bestselling Kindle Singles, from “The Gospel According to Tim” to “Dakota Christmas” (revised and expanded as part of his new seasonal volume, “The Christmas Plains”), Joseph Bottum is a widely published essayist and poet, with work in magazines and newspapers from the “Atlantic” to the “Wall Street Journal.” The former literary editor of the “Weekly Standard” and former editor in chief of the journal “First Things,” he holds a Ph.D. in medieval philosophy and has done television commentary for networks from the BBC to EWTN, including appearances on NBC’s Meet the Press and the PBS NewsHour. His books include his latest poetry collection, “The Second Spring.” He lives with his family in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

 

Dakota_Wind2COMPOSER Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University. The family broken by opposing loyalties in the Civil War, Linton’s maternal ancestors fled Tennessee to Illinois from where his great-great-grandfather Matthews fought on behalf of the Union. The family then went West, home-steading in Oklahoma and eventually scattering across the high plains of Wyoming, South Dakota, and western Nebraska where his mother was born. “Dakota Wind” is quite literally, a “going home” for him (the photographs on this page are views of the Sioux County Nebraska ranch where his grandfather helped to dig its first well by hand).

 

Dakota_Wind3SOPRANO Elizabeth Linton is a native of Connecticut and has studied in both music and nursing at Middle Tennessee State University. Most recently she has spent time nursing in East Africa and singing the role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in Siena, Italy. Her performances of “The Silver Swan,” “Cantata No. 2” and “Songs of Separation” also appear on Refinersfire. She is the daughter of composer Mike Linton and pianist Janet Gustafson Linton.

 

 

 

Dakota_Wind4ENGINEER Michael Fleming is a former music producer for WGBH Radio Boston, whose credits range from sound editorial and premastering work to producing recordings and broadcasts for numerous solo artists and ensembles, ranging from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Nashville Opera to jazz pianist Jan Jarczyk and Nashville singer- songwriter Phil Lee. He is a violinist and holds degrees in physics and sound recording from Carleton College and McGill University’s Tonmeister program. A member of the Middle Tennessee State University’s Recording Industry faculty since 2004, Fleming was the engineer and sound designer for Refinersfire’s Christmas: Cantata No. 2 and Three Marian Carols

 

Dakota_Wind5HARMONICA Jim Hoke is one of Nashville’s most versatile musicians, having recorded on penny whistle, harmonica, saxophone, auto harp, clarinet and flute for Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, George Jones, Travis Trill, Wynonna Judd, Joan Baez, Faith Hill, and Disney. He began playing saxophone and harmonica in rock ‘n roll bands in his hometown of Schenectady, NY, and came to Nashville by way of careers in Oklahoma and Santa Barbara.

 

Recorded April 25, 2013, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with Todd Waldecker (clarinet), Deanna Little (flute), and William Yelverton (guitar), with members of the Nashville String Machine.

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