Thursday, January 30, 2020

Goin’ down Memory Lane

Longtime former Gyros violinist Vesselin Demirev came back to Dallas this past week as guest soloist with the Irving Symphony Orchestra to perform the Vivaldi / Piazzolla “Eight Seasons”. Thinking about tentative choices for an encore he asked if it would be possible to make an arrangement/orchestration of Paganini’s “Cantabile” (originally for violin and guitar, first published in 1922). And so adaptations for solo violin with orchestra and also a string quartet version were created in short order.

Paganini - Cantabile, arr. for solo violin and string orchestra

On the day of the concert - continuing a longstanding tradition - Vesselin participated in one of our wedding gigs as well. Conveniently placed between afternoon rehearsal and performance, it gave us an opportunity to run through the arrangement while waiting for the prelude to start.

Together with the obligatory breakfast at The Oasis it felt great to “get the band back together” - even if only for a little bit. Vesso, we miss you already!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Handel’s Messiah at St.Thomas Aquinas

Messiah manuscript page

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

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

7:30 pm

Performed by the Saint Thomas Aquinas Choir and orchestra, directed by Michael Conrady

Admission is free

Some tidbits surrounding the Handel masterpiece: The music for Messiah was composed in only 24 days of what must have been some pretty feverish writing, considering it takes close to three hours to perform the complete work (the autograph score has 259 pages).

The first performance took place in Dublin on 13 April, 1742, attended by 700 people. In order to admit as large an audience as possible, gentlemen were requested to remove their swords, and ladies were asked not to wear hoops in their dresses.

The text was compiled by Charles Jennens, who, in the spirit of “everybody is a critic”, wrote to his friend Edward Holdsworth on 30 August 1745: “[Handel] has made a fine Entertainment of it, though not near so good as he might & ought to have done. I have with great difficulty made him correct some of the grosser faults in the composition ...

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Kelly and Will at Arlington Hall Pavilion

The Pavilion at Arlington Hall - Lee Park


J.S.Bach – Bist Du Bei Mir
J.S.Bach – Sheep May Safely Graze
Rota –“A Time for Us” from “Romeo and Juliet”

Seating of the Families
J.S.Bach – “Air” from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D

Attendants Processional
Portuguese Love Theme from “Love Actually”

Bridal Processional
Pachelbel  – Canon in D

In Christ Alone

“You Are the Best Thing”

Filip Fenrych, violin
Amela Koci, violin
Norbert Gerl, viola
Marie-Thais Levesque Oliver, violoncello

Coordinator: Hannah Kohler, Brooks and Barnes

Monday, May 27, 2019

Meg and Dustin at Hidden Pines Chapel

We had played for Meg’s sister Jessica’s wedding a few years back at Ashton Gardens. This time the ceremony took place at Hidden Pines Chapel with a program that featured classic/vintage pop songs during prelude and then changed course for the ceremony with traditional and also some unusual choices from the classical repertoire. All in all a lovely, well thought-out program that left a distinct impression.

Hidden Pines Chapel


“Can’t Help Falling in Love”
“Unchained Melody”
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
“Strangers in the Night”
“A Groovy Kind of Love”
“You’re Still the One”
“The Book of Love” 


Seating of the Family
“Ave Maria” - Bach/Gounod

Procession of the Wedding Party
“Flower Duet” - Delibes, from Lakmé

Procession of the Bride
“Canon in D” - Pachelbel

Family Prayer
“Be Thou My Vision”

“Wedding March” - Mendelssohn 

Veronica Gan, violin
Emily Aquin, violin
Norbert Gerl, viola
John Landefeld, violoncello

Coordinator: Sarah Hanlon, Significant Events of Texas

Monday, March 25, 2019

Donizetti’s “Parafrasi del Christus”

The St. Thomas Aquinas Sacred Music series, directed by Michael Conrady, presents Donizetti’s “Parafrasi del Christus” 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

Friday, April 5, 2019
concert to follow the 7:00 p.m. Stations of the Cross. (About 8:00 p.m.)

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


Gaetano Donizetti
Parafrasi del Christus
(for soprano, alto, and strings)
Camille King, soprano
Lauren Davis, mezzo-soprano
Gyros String Quartet ***,  with bassist Chris Pike

*** Aleksandr Snytkin, Filip Fenrych, violin, Norbert Gerl, viola, Mitch Maxwell, violoncello

Program Notes:

Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848)

Parafrasi del Christus
1. Larghetto “Per pietà del peccatore”
2. Andante sostenuto - “E qual morte egli sostenne?”
3. Moderato - “Della gloria al seggio eterno”
4. Larghetto - Allegro vivace - “Diegli un nome assai possente”

In June of 1842 Donizetti was appointed Court Composer and director of the Imperial Chapel at Vienna. Circumstances apparently not as rosy as they sound: “Written during six months of doing nothing and six more of resting” was the composer’s wry comment on his situation in a letter to his friend Dolci. His duties were fulfilled with a few brief  Offertories. The two longer works composed for the Chapel, the Miserere in G minor and the Parafrasi del Christus, are actually rearrangements of earlier compositions. In a letter to his brother-in-law Donizetti writes: “In ’29 I did it in Naples; in ’44, reworked, cleaned up and elegantly attired, it shines in the Imperial and Royal Library of Vienna”.

The only source for the work is the autograph score of this second version, entitled Parafrasi del Xtus - Per due voci Sop. e Contr. di Donizetti/1844. This manuscript is preserved at the library of San Pietro a Majella Conservatory in Naples.

With text by Serafino Gatti, soprano and mezzo-soprano - perhaps personifying Mary and John beneath the Cross - meditate on the shameful sacrificial death of Christ and his glorious elevation. Donizetti pushes the limits of the customary sacred music of his time and creates a kind of religious opera, which on the one hand is linked to Bellini’s bel canto and on the other already anticipates the dramatic power of Verdi’s church compositions. The work is in four movements, opening - interestingly - in F minor, like Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”.

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

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

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