Hymns From Concordia: Concordia Sinfonietta’s Sunday Evening Concert recap

The Concordia Courier

 “Hymns from Concordia.”

By John Symank | 9/23/2022

On Sun., Sept. 11, Concordia Sinfonietta hosted its first Sunday evening concert, “Hymns from Concordia.”  The first concert of the year featured hymn arrangements written for Concordia’s instrumental ensembles. 

The performance, hosted in the Borland-Manske Center’s Zhang Hall, featured songs originally written by prestigious composers, including “Ore, Bender, Luther, Walther, and Bach,” according to the Music Department website, and featured “Arrangements by Jeff Held, Christian Guebert, Alex Guebert, and Tom Mueller.”

Dr. Jeff Held served as conductor, while Dr. Emma Whitten played organ and Voice Instructor Christina Bristow sang soprano on certain pieces. 

“The main focus of the concert was to revisit the roots of Christian hymnody through the smaller sinfonietta ensemble,” said Daniel Laguilles, freshman. Among the pieces included in the performance were traditional English hymns, such as “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” and “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Audiences in attendance were welcomed to sing along to some of the more well known hymns as they enjoyed the Sinfonietta’s accompaniment. 

“The primary focus of the Sunday Evening Concert was to bring people together in praising God through hymns and other sacred music,” said Laura Stoi, junior. “The melody and words were printed in the program and the audience was encouraged to sing along with the orchestra for many of the hymns. This type of interactive concert was designed to be more accessible even if some of the music was new to audience members.”

Other hymns included: “Fanfare for the Baroque Spirit,” “Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us,” “Jesus, Priceless Treasure,” German hymns “Aus Tiefer Not,” “Gott der Vater wohn uns bei,” “Herzlich lieb, hab ich dich, O Herr,” and to conclude, “Sinfonia from Cantata #29, ‘Wir danken dir, Gott, Wir danken dir.’”

“One piece that stuck out for me was ‘Mighty Fortress,’” said Laguilles. “Being a more standard Lutheran hymn, the audience was able to remain more engaged through their participation.” Stoi agreed, adding that “Not only is this hymn one of the most famous among Lutherans and reformed Christians, but this arrangement of the hymn spoke to me specifically because of its text-painting. Each verse was different, often featuring interesting harmonies or rhythms in the clarinet solo and orchestral parts that made the piece stick out among the rest.”

Despite just having over a month of practice, performers felt confident and comfortable in their parts and preparation. 

“I felt good about the performance even though it was so early in the year because the Sinfonietta had already performed a number of the pieces at a church outing and recorded some of the others a few weeks before the concert,” said Stoi. “We began rehearsals the week before school started, so we were able to get a sense of the pieces well before they needed to be ready.” 

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About John Symank

John Symank is the Local and Global News Editor for the Concordia Courier, Concordia University Irvine’s student-led newspaper. He is currently a junior, completing a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Mass Communication, and a minor in Business Administration. 

As the Local and Global News Editor, John writes articles about world events and happenings around Irvine and the surrounding areas. He works with students and professors to get opinions on these events and express the opinions of campus, and uses these viewpoints to construct well informed and instructive stories.

John has been writing or editing for newspapers since 2017, when he began writing for his high school newspaper, The Californian. He hopes to use his experience both with The Californian and The Courier to build his skills as a writer.

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