“Pipedreams” Episodes Online

I’ve recently noticed that Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media’s “Pipedreams,” a weekly program dedicated to the pipe organ, has all of their past episodes online now. 

Back in 1998, my recording, “A Sonic Spectacular” on the grand Marcussen organ (Danish builder) at Wichita State University (Kansas) was featured on the “Pipedreams” national broadcast.  In addition to several chorale preludes and miscellaneous pieces, my “Scenes of Childhood” was featured on the broadcast.  In addition to the playing of “Scenes…”, my three children, Matthew, Christopher, and Katy also served as narrators for the work. 

Listen to the broadcast here:  https://www.pipedreams.org/episode/1998/01/19/prairie-fire
“A Sonic Spectacular” features many exciting works.  In addition to his original music, John plays Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor as well as Widor’s famous Toccata in F. 

Order “A Sonic Spectacular” on the Grand Marcussen Organ at Wichita State here.

Order the sheet music “Scenes of Childhood” for Organ and Narrator here.

During the pandemic, Brian Mathias who serves as one of the organists for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, played several of my pieces on the great Tabernacle organ in Salt Lake City.  One of the pieces that was featured on their weekly broadcast several times was my setting of “Venite.”

Have You Seen These Videos?

Some highlights from my YouTube Channel

The John Leavitt Music YouTube Channel has new and expanding playlists of performances of various works. Here are a few that have caught my attention recently.

Bring Him Home from “Les Miserables”

Performed by members of the Greenville Youth Chorale and Greenville Symphony

VenitePerformed by Tabernacle Organist, Brian Mathias

Festival SanctusPerformed by the UCLA Choir, Rebecca Lord, Director

Songs of the Season Concert

December 2015 concert poster-page-001Join Dr. John Leavitt’s Jubilee Singers in their Christmas concert “Songs of the Season,” featuring John’s arrangements of “The Coventry Carol,” the French carol “People, Look East,” and “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” as well as favorites like Kirby Shaw’s “Calypso Carol” and his gospel setting of  “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” This will be a fun and inspirational concert.

The ensemble has been preparing for this performance since after their premiere concert in October.  “Songs of the Season” will use the traditional “Lessons and Carols” format which combines the Christmas narrative with Anthems and Carols.  In additional to the carols above, the ensemble will sing an ancient chant, an American Shape note hymn, and an aria from Handel’s “Messiah.”  There will even be an opportunity for participants to join the choir in a carol medley with Dr. Leavitt playing the beautiful Martin Ott Pipe Organ in the Atonement Lutheran Church Sanctuary.

The concert will be held at Atonement Lutheran Church, 9948 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS on Sunday, December 13 at 3:30 pm.  Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door. Come enjoy the wonderful songs of the season with the Jubilee Singers!


 

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Trinity UMC Denver, Colorado to perform “What Child is This.”

FullSizeRenderOn October 9-10, 2015,  John was in Denver, Colorado, working with the Trinity United Methodist Church Choir and Judith Mitchell, their director.  John and the Trinity Choir have made music together several times over the years both in Denver but also in New York’s Carnegie Hall and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Judith invited John to serve as clinician for Trinity’s Choir Retreat that weekend.  The Trinity Choir will be offering John’s Christmas Cantata, “What Child is This” for their special music in December.  John spent Friday evening and most of Saturday working the choir on the music.  It was fast paced and intense but great fun!  The choir rose to the challenge and sang great!  Thanks to all the members of the Trinity Choir who helped make the weekend memorable.  Special thanks to Judith, Kathy, Caroline, Harold, Jan, and Diane.

During one of the choir breaks, Judith Mitchell read the following excerpt written by a former choir president about John’s cantata.  Thanks to John Smith for his permission to reproduce it here.  That excerpt follows.

Excerpt from John Smith’s “A Note from the Pres…” from the Chancel Choir Board News dated February 2003…

The Leavitt cantata reconciles a lot of worlds.  It mixes dance styles with carols, Latin with English, scripture with poetry, medieval with modern, and all kinds of unexpected shifts of meter, dynamics, harmony, and emotion. Even the centerpiece, “What Child is This?” combines a secular tune with a sacred text, to which the composer has added a Celtic counter-melody with the mystic influence of open chords sung on pure vowels.  Nevertheless, that centerpiece provides the critical organizing principle for the whole cantata, by focusing on the simple reverence of the nativity.

All this makes the Leavitt cantata a work for our age. Our society values freedom of expression, which means that we constantly receive a bewildering variety of messages and freedom of choice, which means that each one of us must choose how to respond to all of those options. Finding an organizing principle for life in the midst of such chaos is a daunting task. Singing in the choir, and especially that last few months of writing and speaking to the choir as your president, has given me lots of opportunities to concentrate on how I organize my own life and what I organize it around. I am an amateur musician, even more so an amateur at philosophy and theology, but an amateur, defined literally from its Latin root is simply one who loves whatever he or she is doing.

JUBILEE SINGERS PREMIERE CONCERT!

October 2015 concert poster-page-001John has started a new vocal ensemble: The JUBILEE SINGERS.  This energetic and exciting new group will give their premier concert this month, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 3:30 pm at Atonement Lutheran Church 9948 Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, KS.

The Concert is entitled, “Songs of the Spirit” and will feature both sacred and secular music.  Traditional American Music, John Leavitt’s “Festival Mass,”  and Keith Hampton’s “Praise His Holy Name” will be featured on the concert as well as Broadway show tunes and lighter fare.

The concert is free and open to the public.  Please join the new JUBILEE SINGERS for this inspirational concert!