Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Music!!!

The last month has been filled with the sounds of Christmas music from the lonely pleading melody of O Come O Come Emanuel played on a cello to the reverberant sounds of joy and gladness.

We enjoyed playing for the Festival of Trees (pictured above) as well as several other services and just recently our brothers, Charlie, oboist and Benjamin, violinist have joined us for arrangements from Handel's Messiah and other Christmas arrangements.

It is easy for a musician to remember what we are celebrating when the music we play is reflective, serving as a constant reminder of the reason we play music at all!

Here are some of the words to Handel's Messiah. If you click on the links below you can hear a version recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. The tempos are slower than usual for emphasis but if you have not heard the creativity and genius of Handel's interpretation of the Scriptures I encourage you to listen.  The word picture is especially obvious in the tenor's AIR, Every Valley!
RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Tenor) Comfort ye, comfort ye My people,
AIR (Tenor) Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
RECITATIVE. (Alto)Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.
AIR (Alto)and CHORUS O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain: O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold you God! Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
CHORUS For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
RECITATIVE. (Soprano) There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo! the angel of the Lord cam upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto the, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:-
CHORUS Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.
AIR. (Soprano)Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, thy King cometh unto thee! He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen.
AIR (Alto) He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Come unto Him, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
CHORUS His yoke is easy and His burthen is light.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Congratulations Cory and Erika!

This wedding took place at the site of the Mayo Stone Barn, a historic rustic edifice that once belonged to one of the Mayo brothers.
We decided to try to navigate with our GPS module and found it very useful until we were notified that we had arrived at our destination surrounded as far as the eye could see by cornfields. We knew we were supposed to be out in the country; after all the building is called a stone barn. But a barn that weddings are held in must be somewhat elegant and conventional so we didn't turn at the nearest field entrance and start driving through the cornfields. :) A few hundred yards later we found our real "destination"... a lovely group of antiquated limestone buildings shaded by mature maple trees all surrounding a welcoming barn as elegant as it is rustic and tastefully decorated for the festive occasion!
Cory and Erika were married on the lawn and held a reception in the barn. Once again we played "Wedding Dance" for reccesional and some more celtic sounding tunes for prelude and postlude. As a side note, we do not specify outdoor weddings on a booking application but somehow that seems to be the most desirable location for wedding ceremonies this year! :)

During the ceremony, the bride and groom poured glasses of sand in a larger vase instead of lighting a unity candle. We played the traditional Irish hymn, "Be Thou My Vision" as background music.

The picture below is an example of the limestone buildings and walls...

Garrison uses these brief moments of solitude before the prelude begins to practice his operatic vocal abilities... No, not really. Actually I think he is...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Congratulations Andy and Bonnie!

September 5th was a lovely day for a wedding down in historic Lanesboro, Minnesota. The lawn behind the snug Green Gables Inn slopes down to the river making a lovely green "ballroom" surrounded by trees!
Actually, the "flower girl" and "ring bearer" were canoed down the river. They came up from their boat during the prelude!
We were thankful for a helpful wedding coordinator and an excellent sound technician who both helped the wedding flow smoothly. And we are especially thankful for our mother who offered to come with us and take pictures! She thought the wedding was tasteful and well done. :)

Bonnie comes from a Irish background, I believe, so she was especially exited to hear Emily's Wedding Dance played for recessional.
Mama recorded this with our still camera so the sound quality is really quite bad, sort of like we are playing with Styrofoam :0), but, you might be able to get an idea of what our most popular recessional sounds like. Be sure to stop the music playlist at the bottom of our website before you listen. ;)
Or not... blogger doesn't accept our video in its present state so once again you'll have to wait or hear us in person! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lenz Trio plays along the River Walk for the Musical Strollathon in Rochester

The strollathon was part of the Artigras Festival sponsored by the Rochester Arts Council.

While people strolled, various musical groups played at points along the River Walk. Some smiled and waved as they passed on their bicycles, others stopped to rest and listen under our canopy and some of the younger crowd asked questions about our instruments and told us what instrument they would like to play someday. :) It was a beautiful day for a walk!

Sam snapped a picture of us packing up...

Congratulations Matt and Katie!

Once again we played at the Rochester Art Center but this time out of doors! :) We were especially thankful for Sam who helped hold our music stands while a storm was blowing in. :)

We enjoyed accompanying Katie's friend Greer, who sang a special song beautifully!

Congratulations Joe and Brittany!

Joe and Brittany were married in the lovely Plummer House gardens!

Wedding Dance has become a favorite for recessionals! It savors of summer and joyful celebration!...especially out of doors in the cool shade surrounded by flowers. :)

Samuel is our "photographer in training", valet and encourager. He is working on his photography skills and graciously offers to carry our music stands.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Celebrating Mendelssohn’s Bicentennial!

Felix Mendelssohn was born on February 3rd, 1809, 200 years ago. His music “breathes goodness and happiness. He was a gifted person and he used his gifts to glorify God.” [1] He made his first public appearance as a pianist when he was nine and began composing at ten years of age. In speaking of Mendelssohn, Goethe said he bore “the same relation to the little Mozart that the perfect speech of a grown man does to the prattle of a child.” Mendelssohn was undoubtedly one of the most amazing child prodigies in musical history.

He loved the music of Bach and Handel and studied it enthusiastically. When he was only twelve he became so excited about Bach’s oratorio, St. Matthew’s Passion, that his mother had a copy made for him and gave it to him for his birthday.

Eight years later, when he was 20, Mendelssohn performed St. Matthew’s Passion in Berlin, and it is considered one of the greatest musical events in history.

Perhaps his 5th Symphony is the greatest reason I love Mendelssohn. Symphony No. 5, The Reformation Symphony, was written for the tercentenary of the Protestant Augsburg Confession. Listen to the video at the end of this post. It begins with the music of Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

During Hitler’s reign in Germany, Mendelssohn’s music was quickly banned in favor of Richard Wagner’s, mostly because of his Jewish heritage but partly because of the religious tone of his music. He never wrote an opera after his music style matured but preferred to write oratorios including his famous St. Paul and the Elijah.
In 1837, he married Cecile Jeanrenaud and had five children. Cecile was an oil painter and the best of wives for Mendelssohn.
Mendelssohn was also very fond of his sister Fanny (also a composer) whose abrupt death took a toll on his own health. He died six months later at the age of 38, in 1847. “All Europe sorrowed over the loss of this amazing man and musician. It was almost like an international calamity, because Mendelssohn with his personal charm and shining Christian purity had left his mark. Some of Mendelssohn’s music has faded, and some lacks depth, but the best is on a high level and fills us with admiration.”[2]
Though his bicentennial year is not quite as prominent as Mozart’s was in 2006, many groups are performing Mendelssohn based concerts. The Minnesota Orchestra will be performing his Reformation Symphony in September.
There is so much more I could say of Mendelssohn, his love for the sea, his legacy of conservativism, his melodiousness, high spirits, unfailing good manners and his modesty in spite of his giftedness and high-standing in society. His delicious music is a reflection of these qualities! Go here to listen to He Watching Over Israel from the Elijah

1. The Gift of Music by Smith and Carlson p.96
2. The Gift of Music by Smith and Carlson p.96
Remember to scroll to the bottom of our page to pause the playlist there before listening to this clip!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Morning Music Practice for the Bach Family!

Johann Bach's family gathers around the piano for music practice. Bach is at the piano and his family are all playing or singing.

I love this quote...

'The aim and final reason of all music should be nothing else but the Glory of God and the refreshment of the spirit.' (Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685 - 1750)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

John R. Waddle's violins

Emily purchased her current violin from John Waddle in St. Paul. He is an excellent violin luthier! His shop put together this fun video clip on the making of a violin...

Congratulations Michael and Laura Kycek!

Emily played solo violin for Michael and Laura's wedding ceremony in a little church in Stewartville; it was such a lovely intimate sound... almost Baroque :) and so sweet and tender for a small wedding. I know, I'm partial to violins... :)

The whole Lenz Trio played for the reception in the Rochester Art Center. We loved playing along a river!!! I've never played Handel's Water music overlooking a river though we have played it just about everywhere else! :)

Emily is smiling as we play Bouree the second time and fastest ever while the nice photographer lady agreed to take a quick picture...
With two and a half hours of reception music to fill up we finally had time to play through all of Haydn's London Trios. They are truly delightful divertiments!!! :)
A lovely June wedding...All of creation is at it's happiest and rosiest!

We're still working on a recording device... We would love to share music with you! Soon...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Music 2009

We make the transition from farmers to musicians often. In a given day, all six of us could spend our morning with our hands in the dirt filling cells with soil for seeds or in the hoop house stirring up the deep bedding. But at a given time, we clean up, change from “chore” to “town” clothes, and have music lessons or practice instruments, or go to perform somewhere. We are living in two very different worlds…everyone does to some extent, and as much as they do, it adds depth and variety to life. See…even fantasy isn’t completely fantasized. Never wonder again where C.S. Lewis got his ideas. Real life is far more intriguing than most imagine. :)
The Lenz Trio played Wedding Dance for a Night of Music and Recitation event. Emily wrote Wedding Dance for Gena’s wedding and it was premiered on Grand Avenue. Ever since, it has been a general favorite. It is a fast Irish piece! Regrettably we have no suitable recording devices or we would share it with you!
The “Boys Quartet” coached by Aubrey played “Farandole” by Georges Bizet. And every “boy arrow” performed a solo piece. Samuel performed with his viola for the first time accompanied by his instructor, Emily, on the violin! :) We performed in a dark church so you have to squint to see the pictures.

The “instructors”

Everyone was so thrilled with the music and recitations!

The Six Arrows :)