‘Songs of the Spirit’ quicken our own

Queen of Arts

‘Songs of the Spirit’ quicken our ownBy LAURA LEIGH MONTEREY

An ancient Hebrew saying is that a prophet is never accepted in his own country. And how well they knew!

Thankfully, that unhappy fate seems not to apply to Patrick Rindt, a local son who scored richly in musical ability. After earning degrees in piano performance from Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, and acclaim as a concert pianist, he ultimately returned home to teach and raise a family. But an injury that compromised his performance career ended up influencing his decision to try begin composing.

In a few short years, he has ventured deeply into the field, writing hours of music for left-hand piano, chamber ensembles, art singers, choirs and more.

Some of those original compositions were performed by Rindt & Friends Saturday at the United Methodist Church in “Songs of the Spirit.” While the works varied in kind and theme, they all drew from that well of the spirit that quickens us.

Patrick may not be a prophet in the classical sense, but maybe in a new sense — bringing us a Word that we already know, more or less well, wrapped in beauty and melody.

Bill Farris, master of ceremonies, introduced the first music of the evening — three anthems (hymns) that Patrick set to new music – “Rise Up, O Men of God,” “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” The music was sung by the “Songs of the Spirit Choir” in classic soprano-alto-tenor-bass arrangements, directed by Amber Petersen and accompanied on piano by Chloe Crouse.

These 10 people, ranged across the stage beneath the plain wooden cross suspended above the altar, wove their voices into the finest harmonies. The effect of the lyrics and compositions together was breathtaking.

The next three works were inspired by paraphrases of New Testament parables that Patrick set to music written for left-hand piano. He performed these with Petersen, a well-known mezzo soprano.

Without benefit of amplification, Amber’s generously rich voice arched fearlessly through the melodies while the piano wove its own texture and harmony beneath hers — always enhancing, never competing. Together, they told the stories of “The Doorkeeper” (Mark 13:32-37), “The Rich Fool” (Luke 12:16-21) and “The Pharisee and Tax Collector” (Luke 18:10-14). Days later, I can still hear the Doorkeeper’s gentle admonition, “Stay awake!” on Amber’s final high notes.

The first half of the concert ended with a four-song suite from “Jeanette,” Patrick’s musical about a young Joan of Arc. In “Flying,” the Archangel Michael (David Hodgson) and Jeanette (Julia Rindt) sing in duet, then in “Angel of My Own,” the teenaged Jeanette (Sophia Montenegro) sings with her young man (Philip Petersen) of the beauty of the world despite hardships.

In “Father, Angel,” Michael delivers the news of Jeanette’s destiny to save France from the English, against which she struggles mightily. Sophia’s plaintive repetition of “Father? Angel?” as Jeanette seeks to understand was exquisite. The set ended with “Warrior,” in which Jeanette discovers the sword of Charlemagne and accepts the mission before her.

After intermission, the concert resumed with Patrick’s musical adaptation of “Aunt Imogen,” by the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson. Amber and Patrick once again collaborated to tell this is the moving story of a woman who visits her sister’s family every September. It is clear they love her, yet, no one suspects that her heart is burdened with “a passionate ache for something of her own.” One day, Young George, “who sees too much,” laughed when she blinked at him, and she realizes that “she was born to be Aunt Imogen,” caught him up in her arms “and crushed him till he laughed.” Redemption.

Three more anthems – the grandest of all – finished off the concert. “You, Lord, Are All I Have” paraphrases Psalm 16 — “You, Lord, are all I have… How wonderful are your gifts to me. Your presence fills me with joy.” Taking the concert as a whole, I propose that this Song of David forms the crux of Patrick’s thought and feeling for this concert.

Then came Patrick’s musical setting of “Fear No More the Heat of the Sun,” by William Shakespeare. If the words alone were not moving enough, the music is simply masterful. When the choir intones, “Golden lads and girls all must/As chimney sweepers/Come to dust,” and lands on that last word, it is as if all arts collide to make the perfect chord. At such a moment, the choir’s precision makes the heart lurch for the joy and rightness of it.

Finally, “Day is Dying in the West,” set to the lyrics of Mary Lathbury. Here, exquisite harmonies, angelic sopranos, deep oceans of bass, and melodies swirl and finally find each other, resolving so perfectly, it can only be God.

In addition to Amber, the choir is formed by Yihfen Chen, Brian and Kathryn Cosner, Holly Farris, Ted Fiske, Paula Herr, David Hodgson, Michael Petersen and Philip Petersen.

Chen described singing from her heart, since the music expresses what she already feels, and Hodgson testifies that the music becomes the transport by which he prays. This is music that one worships with.

The whole concert was a musical and spiritual masterpiece, and quite a number of friends and followers agree. This concert is the beginning of a fundraising effort to pay for studio time necessary to bring Patrick’s music, particularly his choral works, to a greater audience.

*** Follow “Patrick Rindt” on Facebook to get the latest developments in his recording endeavors ***

Story First Published: 2020-02-28