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Music Talks: Summer 2024

Explore new topics, philosophies and ideas about music. This summer, our Director of Music will present a series of short talks on select Sunday mornings from 9:15-9:45 am in the Parish House at Christ Episcopal Church. The talks are approximately 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. Each presentation integrates new research and ideas that are currently shaping the way we think about music into different topics such as: time perception and music, concepts of musical ownership, sacred expression through music, meaning in music and hymnody; as well as historical topics such as: the history of public performance, the Bach Passions, and a history of the pipe organ. See below for a full list and description of topics and the dates they will be presented. 


Director of Music, Jacqueline Nappi, holds graduate degrees in music from Yale University and SUNY Stony Brook University. She has a particular interest in sacred music and was part of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) during her graduate studies. Her research at both Yale and Stony Brook focused on phenomenology and music; she is most interested in exploring how music is experienced, particularly in sacred settings. 

The Pipe Organ: a brief history of how it’s built and why it matters.

Sunday, June 2, 2024 


The first talk in the series will encompass the history and mechanics of the pipe organ. Christ Church is excited to welcome its new Opus 85 by Taylor & Boody pipe organ builders to the nave on June 3rd; this topic will be presented on the day before their arrival. 


How are pipe organs built? What is a “stop”? How did the pipe organ come to be an instrument associated with sacred music? This talk answers these questions and more. Find out how pipe organs are built and why it matters. Along with historical background, this talk includes points about the workings of different types of pipe organs: tracker, electro-pneumatic, and even digital instruments. The new Opus 85 Taylor & Boody instrument being installed at Christ Church will be the primary case study for this presentation. 


Music as an Expression of the Sacred.

Sunday, June 16, 2024


The second talk in the series delves into the realm of philosophy, phenomenology, and musical expression. Factors in how we perceive music and sound and the reasons behind why we interpret music the way we do can help shed light on music’s expressive nature and its capability of transforming an experience into one that is sacred. 


Questions explored include: How do we experience music as sacred? What about musical expression creates a sacred experience? Can music outside of a sacred space still be perceived as sacred? This talk surveys these questions and others related to phenomenology and the subjective experience of sound and music. A listening experiment via a brief live piano improvisation will function as a case study in this presentation. 


Time Perception in Music.

Sunday, June 30, 2024


The third talk of the series will build slightly on the second, but look further into considering time perception in music. This topic explores how our perception of time is manipulated through a musical listening experience and what implications this has both musically and temporally. 


Points covered include research on time perception, the effects of music tempo and rhythm (or lack thereof), and the many other ways in which a musical experience can shape our perception of time passing. Several pieces of music will be used as case studies in this talk, including Bach’s Aria from the Goldberg Variations, Chopin's “Minute” Waltz, and select passages from 20th century minimalist and/or ambient composers. 


Music in Public Performance: a history.

Sunday, July 14, 2024


The fourth talk covers the topic of public performance, its history and how it evolved. This interesting topic examines the role of music within historical societies, its relationship with capital, the economy, and its perceived value.  


Musicians have been performing in public spaces for a very long time! Who came to performances and were they good listeners? How did musicians make a living? In what ways did commerce and economic factors impact musicians? Learn about the history and culture behind listening to music at the intersection of capitalism, music performance, and economics. New research will be covered, including case studies of G.F. Handel and Joseph Haydn, European composers who were both financially and musically successful. 


Musical Ownership: a perspective on copyright.

Sunday, July 28, 2024


The fifth talk in this series builds slightly on the fourth and includes a very interesting history on musical copyright going back to the invention of the printing press, ideas surrounding what constitutes a uniquely new musical idea or musical ownership, as well as recent developments in the world of music copyright. 


Do uniquely new musical ideas exist? Who owns the music created? Is it the composer? The performer? The record label that captured it? Or the consumer that either bought the recording to listen to or the sheet music to play for themselves? These are questions that musicians and avid listeners of music are asking and have been asking for a long time. “Who creates the music” is ultimately a complicated question, both because of music’s abstract nature and, particularly in capitalist society, its relationship to ideas of ownership. This presentation will take a look at Bach and Busoni as a case study.   


Hymnody and Bach Passions: story told through music.

Sunday, August 25, 2024

The final talk in the series will focus on understanding the J.S. Bach Passions through hymnody, historical context, storytelling via music, and some music analysis. The story of the Passion is arguably one of the most important stories in the bible and music has the ability to add another dimension. 


The St. John and St. Matthew Passions are some of Bach’s greatest and most popular works. What are some of the ways in which Bach uses music to communicate and enhance the story of the Passion? How is hymnody presented throughout Bach’s compositions? These questions and more are explored through research on hymnody and theology in Bach’s time as well as musical analysis and ideas behind musical storytelling. Short excerpts from the St. John and St. Matthew Passions will serve as the primary case studies.

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