Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”

The St. Thomas Aquinas Sacred Music series, directed by Michael Conrady, presents Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” as part of the St. Thomas Aquinas Stations of the Cross and Concert Series.

Admission is free. For more information, visit the parish website at https://www.stthomasaquinas.org/music/lenten-concerts-2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 3:00 PM

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church
6306 Kenwood Ave.
Dallas, TX 75214


Stabat Mater
(for soprano, alto, strings and basso continuo)
Camille King, soprano
Lauren Davis, mezzo-soprano
Gyros String Quartet ***,  with bassist Chris Pike

*** Aleksandr Snytkin, Cornelia Demian, violin, Norbert Gerl, viola, Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Get a preview / taste here:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alisann and Daniel at Royal Lane Baptist

This week's upcoming wedding ceremony at Royal Lane Baptist Church presented an interesting challenge. The couple chose for the bridal entrance a traditional hymn - Come Thou Fount - but in the setting of the Paul Cardall recording, which features piano, solo strings, orchestral strings, cymbal rolls and a healthy dose of reverb. In short, a very cinematic soundscape.

Creating the transcription and trying to achieve an orchestral sound and feel with only a string quartet is mostly painstaking work - at least for this musician. But, that is all but forgotten if it makes the client really happy. Looking forward to trying the arrangement out on Saturday!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - revisited

Summer and the slowed pace in the Texas heat can sometimes present an opportunity: to work on little projects that got stashed away in the back of one's mind during busy times.

So, this week I decided to figure out what has been bugging me for the longest time about the string quartet arrangements of the famous chorale - Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring - from Bach’s Cantata No. 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben. In the US this is the de facto standard piece for the seating of the families at wedding ceremonies, yet always sounds a little lugubrious and opaque to me.

A quick look at the manuscript (from 1723) reveals something interesting: The chorale’s time signature is actually 3/4 and only the first violins (and oboes) are notated in 9/8, probably to avoid having to write triplets for the entire piece. Many arrangements/editions choose to rewrite the music into 9/8 for all instruments, which changes the character considerably. In particular the dotted eights followed by a sixteenth rhythm in violin 2 is lost.

Now that the arrangement has been reworked to follow more closely the Bach manuscript - surprisingly, not easily achieved with modern notation software - I am curious to try it out at an upcoming performance.

The Bach Collegium Japan recording below illustrates nicely:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hold My Hand

Emily and Jeff C. in Cincinnati, Ohio commissioned this arrangement for string quartet of the Jess Glynne single “Hold My Hand” (from the album I Cry When I Laugh).

While getting familiar with the song I also stumbled on Martha Paton’s cover, which takes the song into another world. Lest you think that surely, nothing new is possible in the girl with guitar format, take a listen:

How was she able to hear this gem hidden inside the original Glynne recording / video? I don't know . . . I'm a fan, though.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bela & Chase at Four Seasons

One of those rare times when everything falls into place: golden hour light, 70 degree temperature, full shade for the musicians, no wind and a gorgeous set design. 


Seating of the Family
What a Wonderful World

Attendants Processional
“Mia and Sebastian” from “La La Land”

Bridal Processional
Pachelbel – Canon in D

Mozart – Divertimento No. 1, Presto

Mozart – Divertimento No. 1, Allegro

Cornelia Demian, violin
Jennifer Sweetman, violin
Norbert Gerl, viola
Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Coordinator: Abby Simoneau, DFW Events

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016

Pieter Brueghel the Elder - The Census at Bethlehem, 1566

24 December, 2016
On Christmas Eve you can choose from either two afternoon services, or a Candlelight midnight service:

Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
8011 Douglas
Dallas, TX 75225
(click here for map)

3:00pm and 5:00pm – Christmas liturgy with the Gyros String Quintet, trumpet, oboe, organ and choir.

Prelude at 2:30pm and 4:30pm

VIVALDI – Winter from “Four Seasons” *
CORELLI – Christmas Concerto, Op.6, No. 8
TORELLI – Trumpet Concerto in D **
VIVALDI – Largo from Lute Concerto in D
RESPIGHI – Italiana from “Antiche Danze ed Arie per Liuto”
VIVALDI – Aria: Vedrò con mio diletto 

  * Aleksandr Snytkin, solo-violin
** Glen Hummel, trumpet

10:00 pm – prelude with Gyros Strings and solo oboe

DOMENICO CIMAROSA  –  Concerto for oboe and strings in C-major ***
ARCANGELO CORELLI  –  Concerto Grosso, op. 6, No. 8  (fatto per la notte di natale)

* ** Steve Pettey, oboe

10:30 pm – Midnight Service:
HOLST  –  Christmas Day
MOZART  –  Sanctus from Missa Solemnis in C
WARLOCK  –  Balulalow
BERLIOZ  – Shepherd’s Farewell
and others

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Betsy and William at Arlington Hall

The Pavilion at Arlington Hall - Lee Park


Elgar – Salut d’Amour (Liebesgruss)
J.S.Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3

Seating of the Families
Be Thou My Vision

Attendants Processional
Pachelbel – Canon in D

Bridal Processional
Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

Handel – Hornpipe from “Water Music”

Handel – La Rejouissance from “Royal Fireworks”

Aleksandr Snytkin, violin
Jennifer Sweetman, violin
Norbert Gerl, viola
Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Coordinator: Victoria Petersen, Sweetpea Events

Monday, September 12, 2016

Audrey and Charles at the Aquarium

Nice mix of classical music for the prelude and then an all contemporary ceremony program:

Wedding program at Dallas World Aquarium


Corelli – Adagio from Concerto grooso Op. 6, No. 8
Puccini – “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera “Gianni Schicchi”
Mozart – Romanza from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”

Seating of the Families and Attendants Processional
PerriA Thousand Years

Bridal Processional
U2 – All I Want is You

American Authors – Best Day of My Life

Snow Patrol –  Chasing Cars

Gary Schnitzer, violin
Saejin Yoon, violin
Bo Landefeld, viola
Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Coordinator: Mary Lou Gibbons, Park Cities Events

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rachel and Graham at Perkins Chapel

Gyros String Quartet at Perkins Chapel

One of the most poignant and really touching ceremonies this year took place at Perkins Chapel in late July. The room’s super lively acoustic and elegant understated decor combined with one of the more unusual programs in recent memory. Only two pieces were used for processional music: Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” - which never fails to convey a sense of utter serenity and spiritual yearning (reminiscent of Bach in a strange way) - and “The Swan” (Le Cigne) from Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals for the bride’s entrance.

The tricky part was to find a way to transfer the flow of the double piano parts of the original to the three upper strings in the quartet. The famous solo melody stayed with the cello, of course. Additionally, it needed to be no more than 75 seconds long and still have a beginning, middle and end. After several days’ worth of tweaking the arrangement and a few run-throughs at the chapel, I think it turned out to be a fantastic bridal processional piece.

Saint-Saens - 1886 manuscript of The Swan (Cygne) from Carnival of the Animals
The Swan - from Saint-Saens’ manuscript

Saint-Saens: The Swan - detail of the arrangement for string quartet
The Swan - adapted for string quartet


Bach – Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1
Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Mozart – Divertimento No. 1
Boccherini – Minuetto
Bach – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

Seating of the Families and Attendants Processional
MorriconeGabriel’s Oboe

Bridal Processional
Saint-Saens – Le Cygne (The Swan)

Unity Candle & Family Prayer
Be Thou My Vision

Handel – “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”

Handel – “Hornpipe” from Water Music

Gary Schnitzer, violin
Saejin Yoon, violin
Norbert Gerl, viola
Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Coordinator: Elizabeth Gonzalez - After Yes, LLC
Photo: Allison Davis Photography

Monday, August 15, 2016

Life on Mars?

This week's addition to the pop music repertoire features David Bowie's 1971 track “Life on Mars?” from the album Hunky Dory. The song’s slightly bizarre origins are best explained by the man himself:

David Bowie - Life on Mars? - for string quartet

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