Jan Overduin (email@example.com)is professor of music emeritus, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. In 2006 he retired as director of music at First United Church, Waterloo, where he supervised the installation of a 44-stop Gabriel Kney mechanical action organ. Also in 2006 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Awards Foundation.
Articles by this author:
- How Bright Appears the Morning Star; O Sacred Head, Now Wounded; Psalm 134; Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow
J. S. Bach’s 200-plus cantatas hold many choral treasures. Some of the best known, such as “Jesus, Joy of Our (Man’s) Desiring” from Cantata 147, are well within the grasp of an average volunteer choir. Many of the opening choruses, on the other hand, are a challengeeven for professional singers. In Leipzig Bach was responsible for the music in several (at least four) churches, and therefore needed four choirs. Three of these were able to sing difficult music, but one could “only just barely sing a chorale” (New Bach Reader, 146).
There is no better preparation for learning to improvise than to recapture a child's natural pleasure, curiosity, and interest in spontaneous music-making.
"Using an interlude to raise the pitch for the last stanza is unmusical and theatrical."
[Harold Gleason, McHiod of Organ Playing, 6th ed, 1979, p. 221]
"On special occasions, vigorous congregational singing can be promoted by transposing a hymn to a higher key for the last verse."
[George Ritchie and George Stauffer, Organ Technique, Modem and Early, 1992, p. 362]
It's time for church organists to stop apologizing for their "performance" in worship. For years people have been suspicious of the word "performance," usually reserved for more involved worship music played by well-trained organists. They Ve somehow had the idea that any music included in the service should be simple and ordinary, not complex and technically difficult.
Anyone who takes a close look at the history of the Christian church in the United States and Canada cannot help but be struck by the many ways in which our cultural and ethnic diversity has enriched and blessed us. We are truly a body that has been influenced by people of "every tribe, language, and nation."
Jan Overduin, professor of music at Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, is skilled in organ improvisation. He has performed throughout North America and is frequently heard on CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) radio. He is pictured on this page at the Reil organ at Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, where he accompanied three choirs in a recording of psalms entitled Sing a Psalm of Joy (available from CRC Publications for $8.95; $11.20 CDN).