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Holy Week Twilight Retreat: Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Ben is looking forward to sharing with the Dayspring Community as they hold their Holy Week Twilight Retreat, as he presents some reflections on J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Johann Sebastian Bach is not only one of the giants of the musical world, but also of the Christian church. Sometimes referred to as the fifth evangelist, Swedish bishop Nathan Söderblom called his cantatas “the Fifth Gospel”. In this retreat, we will reflect on the glimpses we find of Bach’s own spirituality by examining his great work “St Matthew’s Passion.” Violinist and Music Teacher Ben Clapton will lead us in this retreat.

Bach wrote a huge number of church cantatas – his Nekrolog (an obituary written in 1754 by Johan Friedrich Agricola and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach) mentions five year-cycles of cantatas for all Sundays and feast days. This would amount to at least 275 cantatas. However, we only have copies of around two thirds of that number, as some have gone missing, or have only survived as fragments. His Passions – while related to his Church Cantatas – are considered a seperate category of his works. The St Luke Passion, BWV 246, is thought to be Bach’s copy of an anonymous composers Passion, with very little material original to Bach’s hand. The St John Passion was composed during Bach’s time in Leipzig, using the text of the Brockes Passion for the arias. The St Matthew and St Mark passions use libretto’s by Picander, however we have no autograph of the St Mark passion and rely on reconstructions.

The St Matthew Passion is longer and more complex that the St John passion. Using a double orchestra and chorus, it is considered to be more reflective and resigned, as opposed to the more realistic and anguished St John Passion.

The Holy Week Twilight Retreat is hosted by the Dayspring Community, an ecumenical, open, contemplative community that focusses on contemplative spirituality, love for God and love for their neighbour, particularly the marginalises and those considered to be the ‘least of these’.

Sunday 28 March, 2021
2:30pm-5:30pm
St Peter and Emmaus Church, Mt Hawthorn

Tickets available throug TryBooking

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Ding Dong! Merrily on High

Ding Dong Merrily on High is a Christmas Carol, and in this picture is a book with the words "A Christmas Carol" on it, as well as assorted christmas decorations.

An exciting arrangement of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” that will challenge the choir whilst still providing interest and variety for all parts.

Arranged for SATB Choir (without accompaniment) by Ben Clapton, each part takes the melody at some stage. As such all parts are actively challenging and highlighted throughout the performance.

Initially arranged in 5/4, the verse has a sort of Mission:Impossible, uneven waltz feel to it. Then in the chorus, it changes to 7/8 which brings the waltz feel into the other direction. In closing, there is a standard arrangement of the verse and chorus in 4/4, which utilises rich harmonies and intersecting parts that brings to life the “evetime song” that exclaims “Hosanna in Excelsis!” 

All parts have opportunities to take the melody. The altos take the first verse, and the sopranos take on the melisma in the chorus. The Second verse sees the tenors take on the melody, while the sopranos once again take on the melismatic chorus, being joined by the altos in a descending line that brings out the waltz falling over itself feel. Finally, in the third verse in 4/4, the Basses take on the melody with the upper parts providing the rich harmonies, with the final choruses passed between the female and male voices.

About Ding Dong Merrily on High

The well-known melody first appeared as a French secular dance known as “Branle de l’Official” in a dance book written by Jehan Tabourot. George Ratcliffe Woodward later penned the English lyrics to “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and was first published in 1924. Then Charles Wood added a harmonisation to the French Melody. While the carol is in English, it is particularly noted for the refrain which is in Latin, in which the vowel sound “o” of Gloria is extended to a 33 syllable long lyric through a lengthy melismatic melodic sequence.

Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

(Glory! Hosanna in the highest!)

Buy Ding Dong! Merrily on High at Sheet Music Press

“Ding Dong!” SATB Arrangement (Unaccompanied) of Ding Dong Merrily on High. List price: $9.99.

More Arrangements and Compositions by Ben Clapton

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Kuchler Concertino in G, Op. 11

German composer Ferdinand Küchler wrote this piece in 1934 and it became a staple in the beginner violin repertoire. Küchler was a renowned violin pedagogue, and his writings on teaching went on to shape violin pedagogy into the 1960s. Today we’re looking at the Kuchler Concertino in G, Op. 11.

The Kuchler Concertino is written in three movements. It was written to be performed in the first position. The first movement, Allegro Moderato, is written in sonata form, features an arpeggiated main theme, a tranqillo second theme, with some scalic passages and a repeated quaver development of the first theme. The second movement, Andante, in 3/4, is in an extended Ternary form (AABA). The final movement, entitled Rondo with a tempo marking of Allegro, is written in rondo form, and includes a number of beautifully crafted melodies.

Piece Details – Kuchler Concertino Op. 11

Graded repertoire

ABRSMTrinityAMEBSassmanshaus (ViolinMasterClass.com)SuzukiRCMLCM
Grade 1 (First movement)Grade 3 (First Movement)

Technical requirements

Keys: G major, C major

Time Signatures: C,3/4, 2/4

Notes used: A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab
Range: G3-B5
Standard open strings are G3, D4, A4, E5.

Double stops: Simple (use at least one open string)Duple (no open strings)

Rhythmic range: Quavers to Dotted Minums

Key strokes

DetacheMarteleStaccatoLegatoSpiccato
SautilleRicochetString CrossingArtificial HarmonicsChords

Positions

FirstSecondThirdFourth
FifthSixthSeventhEighth
NinethTenthEleventhTwelfth and above

Sheet Music

Link to IMSLPBuy from AmazonEdition edited by Ben Clapton (includes optional fingering including third position).

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Rieding Concerto in B Minor

Rieding Concerto in B Minor, available at Amazon.

Composed by German Composer Oskar Rieding (1840-1918) and first published in 1909, this concertino which stays completely in first position has become a staple of the beginner violin repertoire. While it isn’t performed regularly, it is often the first concerto a student will learn. The Rieding Concerto in B Minor is an ideal piece for students to learn, and is included in a number of exam repertoire lists.

(Want something different? Something less common? Why not try Kuchler’s Concertino)

Piece Details – Rieding Concerto in B Minor

Graded repertoire

ABRSMTrinityAMEBSassmanshaus (ViolinMasterClass.com)SuzukiRCMLCM
Grade 3 (second movement)Grade 2 (First movement)Level 2Grade 4 (first or third movement)

Technical requirements

Keys: D major, G Major

Time Signatures: C, 6/8

The Notational and Rhythmic Range used in the Rieding Concerto in B Minor.
The notational and rhythmic range used in the Rieding Concerto in B Minor.

Notes used: A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab
Range: G3-B5
Standard open strings are G3, D4, A4, E5.

Double stops: Simple (use at least one open string) Duple (no open strings)

Rhythmic range: Semiquavers to Minums.

Key strokes

DetacheMarteleStaccatoLegatoSpiccato
SautilleRicochetString CrossingArtificial HarmonicsChords

Positions

FirstSecondThirdFourth
FifthSixthSeventhEighth
NinethTenthEleventhTwelfth and above

Sheet Music

Link to IMSLPHenle Verlag Urtext edition (Amazon) – Link to edited copy (Coming soon!).

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Concerto in D Maj, Op. 36 – Rieding

A concerto which remains entirely in first position, this concerto contains catchy melodies yet still provides some technical challenges to stretch the player. First published in 1911, some 7 years before the composer’s death (1840-1911)

Piece Details

Graded repertoire

ABRSMTrinityAMEBSassmanshaus (ViolinMasterClass.com)SuzukiRCMLCM
Level 2

Technical requirements

Keys: D major, A Major,

Time Signatures: C, 3/4, 6/8

Notes used: A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E E#/F F#/Gb G G#/Ab
Range: G3-B5
Standard open strings are G3, D4, A4, E5.

Double stops: Simple (use at least one open string) – Duple (no open strings)

Rhythmic range: Semiquavers to Dotted Minums, including triplet quavers.

Key strokes

DetacheMarteleStaccatoLegatoSpiccato
SautilleRicochetString CrossingArtificial HarmonicsChords

Positions

FirstSecondThirdFourth
FifthSixthSeventhEighth
NinethTenthEleventhTwelth and above

Sheet Music

Link to IMSLP – Link to edited copy (Coming soon!).

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

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Top 5 Violin Showpieces

Violin showpieces are the pieces which are at the limit of violin technique. They are difficult, flashy, and impressive. Here’s my list of the top five violin showpieces.

Paganini – Caprice 24

Paganini‘s 24 Caprices are some of the most difficult for the violin, and being able to play any of them is a great accomplishment. However, the 24th Caprice is by far the most famous, and most difficult. Based upon a Theme and Variations model, this caprice employs many of the most difficult violin techniques in a musically solid base. This video is of Hillary Hahn performing this Caprice.

Continue reading Top 5 Violin Showpieces
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Czardas – Monti

Composed by Italian composor Vittorio Monti (1868-1922) in 1904, Csárdás was originally written for violin, mandolin or piano, and runs for about four and a half minutes. Written in seven different sections, it alternates tempo and occasionally key to add interest and excitement.

Get your copy of Monti’s Czardas from Amazon:

Piece Details

Graded repertoire

ABRSMTrinityAMEBSassmanshaus (ViolinMasterClass.com)SuzukiRCMLCM
Grade 6Level 4Grade 8

Technical requirements

Keys: D minor, D Major

Time Signatures: 2/4, C

Notes used: A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab
Range: G3-E6 (plus harmonics)
Standard open strings are G3, D4, A4, E5.

Double stops: Simple (use at least one open string) – Duple (no open strings)

Rhythmic range: Semiquavers to Minums (plus grace notes)

Key strokes

DetacheMarteleStaccatoSpiccatoLegato
SautilleRicochetString CrossingChordsArtificial Harmonics

Positions

FirstSecondThirdFourth
FifthSixthSeventhEighth
NinethTenthEleventhTwelth and above

Sheet Music

Link to IMSLP – Link to edited copy.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

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Alternative Symphony plays Perth

Ben has been a member of Alternative Symphony performances in Melbourne, and is excited to be joining them again as they perform in Perth for the first time.

Alternative Symphony Presents An Orchestral Rendition of Daft Punk: Greatest Hits

Saturday April 16, from 7 pm
Magnet House, Perth.
Find TicketsFacebook Event

Thats right, for one night only we’re bringing Daft Punk’s most popular songs to life! Using our host of talented performers and orchestral members we’re coming to Perth to re-live some of the best music ever performed! Daft Punk’s fusion of house music with funk, techno, disco, rock music and synthpop influences has won them critical aclaim across music genres and established them as one of the most successful bands for our time.

Featuring a full orchestra and modern musical elements and the use of immersive visuals and an elaborate light show, there’s no experience quite like it!

*This event is an orchestral rendition, DAFT PUNK will not be present.

Alternative Symphony Presents An Orchestral Rendition of: Biggie vs 2Pac

Sunday April 17, from 7pm
Magnet House, Perth
Find TicketsFacebook Event

Alternative Symphony and Lombardo Entertainment is proud to present a unique way to hear two of the all time greatest artists.

Using our team of highly trained orchestral performers we’re bringing you a unique way to experience 2 of the biggest names in Hip-Hop back to back.Our East Coast Orchestra performing the Notorious B.I.G’s hits and our West Coast Orchestra performing the 2Pac classics!

– Who’s Performing? –
This isn’t your average orchestral event. Our musicians are highly trained professionals and all Daft Punks biggest fans. This modern Orchestra have been practicing enormously to ensure you as an audience receive the best possible show! We’re got trumpets, horns, strings, DJ’s, Drums, live vocalists, MC’s and much, much more to make this night one to remember!

AS understands how COVID19 has negatively effected the events and entertainment industry. Alternative Symphony is happy to honour a 100% FULL REFUND if our event isn’t able to go ahead due to COVID19.

*This event is an orchestral rendition
18+ / Valid ID