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Houston Baroque: Music of Buxtehude & Handel, "My Soul Sees and Hears!" - [OAR-988] $15.98

Houston Baroque, founded in 2014 by Patrick Parker with a core quintet of professional singers and period-instrument players, presents its first recording, pairing works of Buxtehude and Handel. The group performs with the 2014 Martin Pasi organ at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston, following their pattern of concertizing with music of a certain place and time in three genres: vocal, instrumental chamber music, and solo organ. Together, all three genres encompass the departed culture and aesthetic Houston Baroque revives and honors. The works of Buxtehude and Handel fit the pattern because both received early training on the organ, and both were influenced by Hamburg's musical scene.

Performers are soprano Megan Stapleton, violinist Nadia Lesinska, lutenist Bruce Brogdon, gambist Jordan Witherspoon, and keyboardist Patrick Parker.

The Program:
Buxtehude:Toccata in G Major, BuxWV 164*
Handel: Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207**
Buxtehude: Partita Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179*
Handel: Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken, HWV204**
Buxtehude: Canzona in G, BuxWV 171*
Handel: Violin Sonata in D Major, HWV 371***
Buxtehude: Singet dem Herrn, BuxWV 98****
Buxtehude: Chorale Prelude Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, BuxWV 208*
Handel: Das zitternde Glänzen der spielenden Wellen, HWV203**
Buxtehude: Chorale Prelude Puer Natus in Bethlehem, BuxWV 217*
Handel: Süße Stille, sanfte Quelle, HWV 205**
Buxtehude: Chorale Prelude Gott, der Vater wohn uns bei, BuxWV 190*
Handel: In den angenehmen Büschen, HWV 209**
Buxtehude: Ciacona in E Minor, BuxWV 160*

*organ alone, Patrick Parker
**Megan Stapleton, Soprano; Nadia Lesinska, Baroque Violin; Jordan Witherspoon, Viola da gamba; Bruce Brogdon, Theorbo and Lute; Patrick Parker, Harpsichord
***Nadia Lesinska, Baroque Violin; Patrick Parker, Harpischord
****Alan Austin, Baroque Violin; Julia Fox, Soprano; Patrick Parker, Harpsichord

My Soul Sees and Hears!

The Concept
by Patrick Parker, Artistic Director
Houston Baroque’s debut album contemplates the music of Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) and Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759). The pairing of Buxtehude and Handel is not immediately obvious. However, they both received their early musical training on the organ, and both were influenced by Hamburg and its musical tradition. All of the music on this recording focuses on the personal, devotional nature of the Lutheran faith as well as nature as God’s good creation. This album features the marvelous new organ built by Martin Pasi at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston, in the context of Houston Baroque’s practice of performing music of a certain place and time in three genres: vocal music, instrumental chamber music, and solo organ music. Together, all three genres encompass the departed culture and aesthetic we try to revive and honor.

The lives of Buxtehude and Handel are connected through the great city of Hamburg, where Handel resided and Buxtehude frequented. Mid-16th-century Hamburg prospered and grew as it “globalized,” welcoming foreign merchants and craftsmen as Hanseatic guest-worker laws became passe. Into the 17th century, prosperous Hamburg supported a burgeoning musical establishment, including a collegium musicum and a public opera. William Carr published in 1688 comments on Hamburg’s rich musical life and prosperity: “The Churches herre are rich in revenues, and ornaments, as Imags and Statley Organs wherein they much delight. They are great lovers of Musick, in so much that I have told 75 masters of severall sorts of Musick in one Church, besides those who were in the Organ-gallery. Their Organs are extraordinarily large . . . the wealth and trade of this citie increases dayly.”

The Composers

Dieterich Buxtehude was born in Denmark around 1637. His father was an organist in Helsingborg and trained the young boy alongside Latin school academics. Around 1657, Dieterich took the position his father had held as organist of St. Mary’s Church, Helsingborg. Buxtehude succeeded to a more presitigious and well-­paid position in 1667 as organist in Lübeck of St. Mary’s, there, following the death of Franz Tunder.

Commerce and wealth centered in 17th-century Lübeck, thus Buxtehude composed music for many weddings, funerals and other private and civic events. His church duties included playing the organ for the morning and afternoon services on Sundays and feast days. Beyond musical concerns, he was the administrator and treasurer (Werck­meister) of the church, a responsible position of prestige. Municipal musicians performed with Buxtehude from a large choir loft in the front of the church. A violinist and a lutenist regularly performed with Buxtehude.
During Tunder’s tenure, businessmen engaged him to play organ concerts on Thursdays, prior to the opening of the stock exchange. Instrumentalists and singers were eventually added. Within a year of his arrival in Lübeck, Buxtehude greatly expanded the possibilities for the performance of concerted music with organ by having two new balconies installed at the west end of the church, the gift of a single donor. The resulting six balconies could accommodate about forty singers and instrumentalists. Buxtehude called his concerts Abendmusiken and changed the time of their presentation to Sundays after vespers. Later, these concerts occurred regularly on the last two Sundays of Trinity and the second, third and fourth Sundays of Advent. On these Sundays, he and his musical forces performed on these Sundays oratorios he had composed, beginning about 1678. He also directed performances of concerted music during the regular church services. Buxtehude’s Abendmusiken were considered the equivalent of operas. They seem to be a pre-cursor to the modern concert experience, just as Handel was creating opera and oratorio in England.

At about age 66, Buxtehude sought a successor in 1703 (after 35 years at St. Mary’s). An early prospect was Georg Frideric Handel, who was working at the Hamburg opera. Handel rejected the position upon learning that he must wed Buxtehude’s eldest daughter (as Buxtehude had married Tunder’s daughter) as a condition of employment. Handel returned for the Abendmusik in 1705, the year that Bach is said to have walked some 200 kilometers to meet Buxtehude, hear his famous Abendmusik, and to learn from him.

Buxtehude was buried on May 16, 1707, in St. Mary’s, beside his father and four daughters who had predeceased him. The great church represents the epitome of north German brick gothic style, its nave soaring 126 feet to a vaulted ceiling and with very tall towers (410 feet) at its front, standing atop a hill in the center of Lübeck. First built of wood in 1163 and rebuilt of brick just a decade later as a Romanesque basilica, the current church was begun in 1250 and completed in 1350. The church was bombed the night of March 28-29, 1942, when fire destroyed all of the organs with most of the interior, including one of the organs played by Buxtehude. The building was repaired and remains a favored destination and mighty architectural statement of Lübeck’s prominence.

During his life, Buxtehude’s keyboard music was widely known through manuscript copies (no autographs have survived). Like the music of many latter 17th-century composers, Buxtehude’s music was not as frequently published as had been music of earlier composers. One explanation holds that the florid characteristics of the music and the small note values it employs could not be read easily when printed with movable type (introduced for music ca. 1500). Also, Buxtehude lived in an age when composition was considered a science or tool for teaching, and the real art of an organist was in improvisation.

The 52-stop organ that Buxtehude played in Lübeck was very large for its day and had 15 stops in the pedal, more stops than in any one of its three manual divisions; this included two 32' stops and a full complement of principals, mixtures and reeds. Thus, it is not surprising to find that, in Buxtehude’s organ music, the pedal part participates fully in the fabric of the music, including virtuoso display. Buxtehude takes the pedal part far beyond what had been its traditional role of slow harmonic support or bearer of the cantus firmus.

The Brust­werk and Rück­positiv divisions of north German organs feature solo reeds and many upper partials which could be combined to produce a sharply differentiated melodic line. This type of sound is particularly well suited to a solo voice, such as highly ornamented cantus firmus, with the other voices played on another manual using a contrasting registration.

With exception of the choral fantasia, all genres of organ music composed by Buxtehude are represented on the program recorded here. Buxtehude’s praeludia (including a few works entitled “toccata,” such as the Toccata in G, BuxWV 164, that opens the program) form the heart of his repertory for organ. These works alternate sections of free, improvisatory, idiomatic keyboard writing with sections in a structured, fugal style.

Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was born in Halle, in central Germany. Handel’s early interest in music was discouraged by his father who desired his son to study for the law. Denied access to musical instruments, the young Handel practiced secretly on a clavichord in the attic and developed facile technique. The Duke of Saxe-­Weissenfels, having heard the 9-year-old Georg play the organ, persuaded the elder Handel to give his son a musical education under Friedrich Zachow, organist at the Lieb­frauen­kirche at Halle. Henceforward, young Georg received excellent instruction in organ, harpsichord, and compostion. Donald Burrows’ biography of Handel states “the training that Handel received from Zachow would have been a practical apprenticeship, with an emphasis on keyboard playing, repertory and composition.” From Zachow, Handel learned a mixture of Italian style (the da capo aria heard on this disc) and German style (counterpoint, as heard in Buxtehude’s organ music).

In 1702, a 17-­year-­old Handel was appointed organist at the Calvinist Domkirche (Cathedral). As the appointment was not renewed after the initial probationary year, Handel left Halle, returning occasionally to visit, and did not continue as a church musician after 1703. His new life was spent in the great opera centers of Europe, beginning with Hamburg. Handel continued his relationship with the organ, however, composing fourteen organ concerti later in life and for use in intervals within enormously popular oratorios given at Covent Garden (often played by him), and also wrote church music and the Six Fugues or Voluntarys for the Organ or Harpsichord, published by Walsh in 1735.

In Hamburg—the only place in Germany where an opera company operated regularly outside the royal courts—Handel befriended Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), a scholar, tenor soloist, composer at the opera house, and a career diplomat after 1706. Mattheson stated in a biographical encyclopedia of musicians published in 1740, “Handel was strong at the organ, stronger than Kuhnau in fugue and counterpoint, especially extempore, but he knew very little about melody till he came to the Hamburg operas.” Mattheson and Handel fought a duel of swords in 1704 over a dispute that erupted during a performance of Mattheson’s opera Cleopatra. Unharmed, the two became even closer friends. Earlier, they traveled together to Lübeck so as to meet the retiring Buxtehude and check out the prospects of succeeding him; neither took the job.

The Program
Buxtehude’s fame as an organist and composer for organ primarily rest on his works such as the Toccata in G, BuxWV 164, opening this program. Even J. S. Bach owned a copy of this work.

Handel’s Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207, as well as all the other Handel arias on this disc, comes from a set of music known today as Nine German Arias. These pieces come from Handel’s English period, when he found a collection of poems by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, Irdisches Vergnügen in Gott (Earthly Pleasure in God). In this cycle of poetry, Brockes expressed God’s greatness in nature and designated poems to be set to arias and other musical forms. Handel set all but one of the poems designated as arias in da capo (ABA) aria form for singer, obbligato instrument, and basso continuo. In doing so, Handel recycled musical material from his Trio Sonata in B-flat Major, op. 2, no. 3, and also in the Sonata in F for two violins, HWV 392. The lyrical opening melody, memorably reused for the aria Date serta in the motet Silete venti, introduces a comparison of the visual flourishes of blossoming spring with the force of nature joining to praise God.
Meine Seele hört Im Sehen,
Wie, den Schöpfer zu erhöhen,
Alles jauchzet, alles lacht.
Höret nur,
Des erblüh’nden Frühlings Pracht
Ist die Sprache der Natur,
Die sie deutlich, durchs Gesicht,
Allenthalben mit uns spricht.

My soul hears, through seeing,
How all things rejoice and laugh
To magnify the Creator.
Hark! The Spring’s blossoming splendor
The blossoming splendor of the spring
Is the language of nature
Which, through sight,
Speaks clearly to us everywhere.

Next, we return to Buxtehude’s organ works, with the partita Auf meinen lieben Gott, BuxWV 179. Although the work is based on a chorale, it is composed in the secular form of a dance suite consisting of the usual movements: Allemande, Double, Sarabande, Courante, and Gigue. All the movements are manualiter, so it could be played on harpsichord as well as organ.
In my beloved God I trust in anxiety and trouble; He can always deliver me from sorrow, anxiety, and troubles; he can change my misfortune, everything is in his hands.
Although my sins oppose me, I shall not despair; on Christ I shall build and trust him alone; to him I surrender myself in death and also in life.
Even if death takes me away to die is a profit for me and Christ is my life, to whom I surrender myself; whether I die today or tomorrow he will take care of my soul.
Oh my Lord Jesus Christ, who are so patient, you died for me on the cross and have won salvation for me and also at the same time for all of us the everlasting kingdom of heaven.
Amen at all hours I say from the depths of my heart; may it be your will to guide us Lord Christ, at all times, so that we may praise your name forever.

Returning to Handel, we hear Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken, HWV204, Brockes’ sensual evocation of the scent of amber flowers, in which the middle section describing the soul soaring heavenwards bears a resemblance to Cleopatra’s aria Piangerò la sorte mia from Handel’s opera of 1724, Guilio Cesare.

Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken, Euer Silber soll mich locken, dem zum Ruhm, der euch gemacht.
Da ihr fallt, will ich mich schwingen Himmelwärts und den besingen, der die Welt hervorgebracht.

You amber petals of sweet flowers, your silver sheen attracts me to Him who, to His glory, created you. As your petals fall, I shall soar heavenwards, praising Him who brought forth the world.

Next we hear Buxtehude’s Canzona in G, BuxWV 171, a rare instance in his repertoire where he writes a piece that is strictly contrapuntal. The subject of the fugue is lively, breathless, in steady sixteenth notes, for manual only, in four voices, and was probably intended as a teaching piece (as was most of his written-down organ repertoire).

Handel’s Violin Sonata in D Major, HWV 371, is admittedly not as German as it is Italian, but it makes a beautiful addition to this recording. This sonata was first published c. 1730 by John Walsh in a collection entitled Twelve Sonatas or Solos for the German Flute, Hautboy and Violin.

This sonata is in four movements in the slow-­fast-­slow-­fast sequence of the Italian sonata da chiesa. The beginning of the first movement is striking: the violin lays out what seem to be the notes of a D-major chord (D-F#-A-D), but instead of the final D, Handel goes up one step, so that the opening statement is the unexpected D-F#-A-E. The effect is surprising and unsettling! —that upward span of a ninth recurs through­out this first movement, grinding dissonantly against the harmonic context that we expect. From his dissonant opening, Handel builds a long slow movement of great dignity, and perhaps it is the jagged and unexpected effect of that opening gesture that gives this movement its strength. The second movement, fugal in construction, is marked Allegro but seems to accelerate as it proceeds, as Handel diminishes the time-value of his note-sequence: he begins with a half-note, then goes to eighths, then to sixteenths, and then to trills and mordents, so that the tempo seems to rush ahead even as the performance should be rock-steady. The Larghetto, in B minor, has a dark and ceremonial character as the violin’s melodic line arches over the keyboard’s steady chordal accompaniment, while the concluding Allegro, in binary form, is driven along by the energy of its dotted rhythms and sixteenth-note runs. Those who know Handel’s oratorios will recognize some of the music of this sonata, for the second movement became the basis for the choral double fugue that opens the second act of Solomon (1749), while the final movement became – with the addition of a viola part – the sinfonia in Act III, Scene I of Jephtha.

Buxtehude’s Singet dem Herrn, BuxWV 98, is Psalm 96 and a song of praise to the God who created the beautiful nature described in Handel’s arias! Although Buxtehude’s “job description” did not require him to compose vocal music, he left more than 120 composed vocal works, probably performed under his direction while he also played organ continuo, at St. Mary’s during communion at the morning service, or during Vespers or concerts. All of Buxtehude’s vocal soloists, including the singers of his soprano parts, appear to have been men. The more usual singers of soprano parts – boys, castrtati, and women – were not readily available to him. This sacred concerto is Buxtehude’s only vocal work scored with solo violin. Lübeck was a centre for violin playing in northern Germany, and this violin part was probably originally played either by Hans Iwe, a municipal musician who regularly performed from the large organ gallery in St. Mary’s, or Peter Bruhns (uncle of the composer Nicolaus Bruhns), another municipal musician who excelled at the violin. In his setting of this most musical psalm text, Buxtehude seems, in fact, to be pointing to violin playing as one of the wonders of God; he introduces a virtuosic interlude with the words denn Er macht Wunder.

Psalm 96:1-4
Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied; denn er macht Wunder.
Er sieget mit seiner Rechten und mit seinem heiligen Arm.
Der Herr läßt sein Heil verkündigen, vor den Völkern läßt er seine Gerechtigkeit offenbaren.
Er gedenket an seine Gnade und Wahrheit dem Hause Israel.
Aller Welt Ende sehen das Heil unsers Gottes. Jauchzet dem Herrn, alle Welt; singet, rühmet und lobet!

Sing unto the Lord a new song,
for He hath done marvelous things!
His right hand and His holy arm hath gotten Him the victory.
The Lord hath made known His salvation;
His righteousness hath He openly shown in the sight of the heathen.
He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise!

Buxtehude’s outburst of praise is followed by an introverted prayer in the form of an ornamented chorale prelude, Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, BuxWV 208. A specialty of north German organists was their presentation of Lutheran chorales, functional in nature, intended to complement the congregational singing of hymns that the ministers chose. In this chorale prelude, the solo line imitates the human voice in a aria-like melody, against a beautiful contrapuntal accompaniment and bass line.

We now pray to the holy spirit for true belief above all so that he may watch over us at our end when we travel home from this miserable world. Lord, have mercy.

Handel’s bubbly, extroverted music in Das zitternde Glänzen der spielenden Wellen, HWV203, conveys the sparkling brilliance of water rushing over sandy shores and riverbeds. Its principal theme foreshadows How vain is man in the later oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus.

Das zitternde Glänzen der spielenden Wellen
Versilbert das Ufer, beperlet den Strand.
Die rauschenden Flüsse, die sprudelnden Quellen
Bereichern, befruchten, erfrischen das Land
Und machen in tausend vergnügenden Fällen
Die Güte des herrlichen Schöpfers bekannt.

The shimmering gleam of dancing waves
Silvers the shore, brings pearls to the sand.
Rushing rivers, bubbling spings
Make the land rich, fertile and fresh,
And in a thousand delightful ways
Reveal our glorious Creator’s goodness.

The shortest track on this program is Buxtehude’s Puer Natus in Bethlehem, BuxWV 217, for organ. Another ornamented chorale prelude, this piece is hauntingly beautiful; the plainchant upon which it is based is one of the oldest legacies in Western art music.

A Child is born in Bethlehem;
Exult for joy, Jerusalem! Alleluia.
There, in a manger lowly, lies. Alleluia.
He who reigns above the skies. Alleluia.
The ox and ass in neighbouring stall. Alleluia.
See in that Child the Lord of all. Alleluia.
And kingly pilgrims, long foretold. Alleluia.
From East bring incense, myrrh, and gold, Alleluia.
And enter with their offerings. Alleluia.
To hail the new-born King of Kings. Alleluia.
He comes, a maiden mother’s Son. Alleluia.
Yet earthly father hath He none; Alleluia.
And, from the serpent’s poison free. Alleluia.
He owned our blood and pedigree. Alleluia.
Our feeble flesh and His the same. Alleluia.
Our sinless kinsman He became, Alleluia.
That we, from deadly thrall set free. Alleluia.
Like Him, and so like God, should be. Alleluia.
Come then, and on this natal day. Alleluia.
Rejoice before the Lord and pray. Alleluia.
And to the Holy One in Three. Alleluia.
Give praise and thanks eternally. Alleluia.

Handel’s comforting Süsse Stille, sanfte Quelle, HWV 205, compares the way a fine moonlit night in Spring follows day with eternal peace awaiting us after the labor of life.

Süsse Stille, sanfte Quelle
Ruhiger Gelassenheit!
Selbst die Seele wird erfreut,
Wenn ich mir nach dieser Zeit
Arbeitsamer Eitelkit
Jene Ruh’ vor Augen stelle,
Die uns ewig ist bereit.

Sweet quiet, gentle source
Of peaceful serenity!
Even my soul rejoices
When I, after all this time
Of futile work,
Contemplate the peace
That awaits us for eternity.

Next, we turn to Buxtehude’s Gott, der Vater wohn uns bei, BuxWV 190 for organ. This fun, short chorale prelude has a strong, declarative cantus firmus over accompaniment that is contrapuntal. At times dance-like and syncopated, this piece is joyful.
God the Father, be our Stay;
O let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the evil one;
Uphold our faith most holy;
Grant us to trust Thee solely
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on,
With all true Christian running
Our heavenly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning
Amen, amen! This be done;
So sing we, Alleluia!

Handel’s In den angenehmen Büschen, HWV 203, is the only movement of the Nine German Arias which is not in da capo form.  Several characteristics of the piece preclude the form: Handel includes cadenzas as opportunities for the singer to improvise; the piece modulates through the sections and it elides from the middle to the last section. Perhaps it is the most creative of the set in form, harmony, and the affekts of the various melodies, all contrasting with each other to paint the light and shade which intermingles in God’s pleasant bushes:
In den angenehmen Büschen,
Wo sich Licht und Schatten mischen,
Suchet sich in stiller Lust,
Aug’ und Herze zu erfrischen.
Dann erhebt sich in der Brust
Mein zufriedenes Gemüte,
Und lobsingt des Schöpfers Güte.

In these pleasant bushes,
Where light and shade intermingle,
Our eyes and hearts strive to refresh
Themselves in silent joy.
My contented soul
Is then uplifted
And praises the Creator’s goodness.

The recording concludes with Buxtehude’s epic Ciacona in E Minor, BuxWV 160, for organ. In this piece, Buxtehude adopted a form popular in Italy and South Germany (for manuals only) and added the virtuosic capabilities of the North German organ. The pedal is used chiefly for the ostinato, thereby freeing both hands to execute more complex variations than can occur in a work for manuals alone. None of his North German predecessors had done this; this music is truly innovative. The ciacona is in minor mode and triple meter, with a four-measure ostinato built on a descending tetrachord. The harmony is expressive in dissonance and chromaticism.

Houston Baroque
Houston Baroque: the new millennium’s first generation of artists presents fresh takes on old masters, performing vocal and instrumental chamber music of the Baroque

Houston Baroque performs exclusively in churches capable of recreating the resonant acoustics of the Baroque period and housing historically-informed organs. Houston Baroque concerts feature fabulous singers, period-instrument violins and flute, an exceptional continuo group, and solo organ music. All these elements form to recreate sacred and secular aspects of a bygone era in a veritable time machine experience! Initially compelled by the music of J. S. Bach, Patrick Parker established Houston Baroque in 2014. Houston Baroque consists of a core quintet of professional period-instrument singers and instrumentalists with occasional guests. The ensemble has performed chamber vocal and instrumental music of many of the major Baroque composers. This dynamic, young group of friends has been featured in various publications and has developed non-profit status.

About the Artists

Soprano Megan Stapleton “has a crystalline, ethereal voice.  She sings purely and seemingly effortlessly…” (Broadwayworld.com).  Megan has performed with Houston Grand Opera, Mercury – The Orchestra Redefined,  Houston Baroque, Ars Lyrica, Galveston Symphony Orchestra, Bach Society Houston, Houston’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Ensemble Correnti, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Metro Opera and Boston Opera Collaborative.  Megan holds degrees with honors from New England Conservatory and Sam Houston State University. www.meganstapleton.com

Bulgarian-born violinist Nadia Lesinska has garnered an exceptional career spanning continents and genres. As a specialist in baroque violin technique, Nadia performs throughout the country and is a frequent guest with Ars Lyrica Houston, Austin Baroque, Bach Society Houston, Houston Baroque, Mercury Baroque, and Viols of Houston. A graduate of Chapman University, Nadia’s teachers included Paul Manaster and Todor Pelev. She received her period performance training from Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute and from studies with Jann Cosart, Marc Destrube, Marilyn McDonald, and Cynthia Roberts. Nadia resides in Houston with her husband, viola da gamba player Jordan Witherspoon. www.nadilesinka.com

Bruce Brogdon studied classical guitar at the University of St. Thomas and his interest in early music led him to take up the lute. He has performed with the University of Texas and University of Houston Collegiums, Texas Baroque Ensemble, the Green Mountain Consort, Houston Baroque, the Texas Early Music Project, Austin Baroque Orchestra, Aquinas (formerly the resident ensemble of the University of St. Thomas), Austin Baroque, La Follia, Mercury Baroque, and Ars Lyrica Houston.

Viola da Gambist Jordan Witherspoon is a frequent soloist, chamber musician, and continuo player with early music ensembles in Houston and beyond. Engagements include Ars Lyrica, Bach Society Houston, Golden West Early Music Ensemble, Mercury Baroque, Musikanten Montana, and Viols of Houston. As an active recitalist, Jordan can be heard performing throughout the year with his wife, baroque violinist Nadia Lesinska. Originally trained as a double bassist, Jordan received his music education from Chapman University, Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute, and from studies with Mary Springfels and Sarah Mead. He has performed in master classes with Catharina Meints, Siegfried Pank, John Mark Rozendaal, Kenneth Slowik, and the musicians of Fretwork. Jordan performs on a 7-string Tielke-model viol by Dominik Zuchowicz and a 6-string division viol by Jacques Camurat.

Highly regarded for interpretations of German Romantic composers, Patrick Parker has been noted for his “excellent technique and musicality” and “strong rhythmic lines and expressive phrasing...superlative” (Classical Voice of North Carolina). Patrick is Artistic Director of Houston Baroque; Professor of Organ at McNeese State University and Minister of Music and Organist at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Charles, Lousiana; and performs organ recitals throughout the United States and abroad. www.patrickaaronparker.com

The Organ
The pipe organ at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston was built by Pasi Organ Builders of Roy, Washington, and was completed in 2014. It replaces a 1903 Kilgen pipe organ that was destroyed by fire on October 10, 2011. Many other artifacts were damaged or destroyed as well, but the building was restored to its mid-1920s character as originally designed by Houston architect Joseph W. Northrop, Jr. The congregation, a member of the North American Lutheran Church since 2011, was founded in 1851 as the first Lutheran congregation in Houston and the second in Texas. The present building is its third.
Pasi Organ Builders, Op. 23, 2014
First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas
8' Principal
8' Rohrflöte
4' octave
2-2/3' Quinte
2'  Superoctave
IV Mixture
8' Trumpet
Positive to Great
8' Gedackt
8' Viola
4' Spitzflöte
2' Waldflöte
2-2/3' Cornet double draw with 1-3/5'
16' Subbass
8' Principal (Gt)
16' Posaune
8' Trumpet (Gt)
Great to Pedal
Positive to Pedal

Suspended, mechanical key action
Mechanical stop action
Wind system with wedge-shaped bellows

Houston Baroque: Music of Buxtehude & Handel, \"My Soul Sees and Hears!\"
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Eleanor Fulton Plays at Yale: Musical Evolution
Eleanor Fulton Plays at Yale: Musical Evolution
Smetana: The Moldau<BR>Harry van Wijk, organist, 1933 E. M. Skinner, Girard College, Philadelphia<BR>Transcriptions, Late Editions
Smetana: The Moldau
Harry van Wijk, organist, 1933 E. M. Skinner, Girard College, Philadelphia
Transcriptions, Late Editions
Paris Impact: Organ Suites, Stephen Price, Goulding & Wood organ, Ball State University
Paris Impact: Organ Suites, Stephen Price, Goulding & Wood organ, Ball State University

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