Practical Service Music: Hymn Preludes by Healey Willan

Namhee Han
Crown Center Sheraton Hotel - CHICAGO A

Healey Willan is best known for Introduction, passacaglia and fugue in E flat minor (Op. 149), which Joseph Bonnet proclaimed as one of the most significant since Bach’s. We should not, however, let this massive, virtuosic work eclipse his large volume of sacred organ works that are accessible and effective. In fact, by the mid-twentieth century, Willan established himself as the most leading church composer in North America: in a 1953 list compiled from thirty-seven leading choirs in the United States and Canada, Willan ranked second only to Bach in the frequency of use of his music. In 1950 in his seventieth year, Willan started a long series of almost 100 chorale preludes. Thirty Hymn Tune Preludes in 3 sets (Op. 169, 173 and 174) published by for C.F. Peters between 1956 and 1958 are some of the fine examples. The rich, often chromatic harmonic language and resourceful treatments of familiar hymn tunes such as HYFRYDOL, ST. FLAVIAN, OLD HUNDREDTH, O FILII ET FILIAE, EBENEZER, DEO GRACIAS, and many others, along with their modest length (3-5 pages) and difficulty level, make them particularly suitable as service music. The purpose of this workshop is two-fold: (1) to discover the multi-faceted life of this consummate musician as a choirmaster, organist, composer, teacher and conductor (as meticulously depicted in F.R.C. Clarke’s Healey Willan: Life and Music) and (2) to hear several examples which could be your next organ prelude or postlude from the above-reviewed repertoire ranging from prayerful to exhilarating.

Friday, July 6
11:00 – 11:45am