ABIDE WITH MEGreat Hymns in New Settings
Paul Basler, Marc Guy, Brooke Hopkins, Paul Jones, James Naigus, Jeremy Strong
LISA BONTRAGER, horn
TIMOTHY SHAFER, piano
SARAH SHAFER, soprano
GRACE SALYARDS, horn
World Premiere Recordings
"Bontrager’s noble tone [enables] the music to speak truthfully... Bontrager plays fluently and confidently... The addition of a second horn part, via the equally excellent Grace Salyards, works beautifully... Shafer seems particularly attuned to the sentiments of [the hymns]; every word drips with feeling... The disc is stunningly recorded by Richard Price at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, New York."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [July/August 2019]
"This is an interesting and somewhat experimental method of presenting these hymns – many of which will be familiar to the traditionally religious – by giving them a new sound and still exploring their emotional centers... [the vocal arrangements are] Well-paced, well-played, and sung with apt emotional involvement by Sarah Shafer... The richness of Bontrager’s horn sounds, and those of Grace Salyards in the two-horn arrangements, help provide the CD with an overall feeling of warmth, and Timothy Shafer’s pianism nicely complements the horns by providing them with a harmonic foundation without ever attempting to assume a central musical role."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad.com [June 2019]
"Lisa Bontrager has given us all a gift with her newest recording... From start to finish, this recording is filled with music that is lovely, peaceful and joyful. There is not anythjng better than listening to someone play music they love, and all four musicians speak with their heart on this recording. Brava, Lisa!"
Katie Johnson-Webb, The Horn Call [May 2019]
"Abide with Me, an MSR Classics collection of instrumental or sung hymns, brought me back into my growing up years with my parents in which we attended church and they sang in the choir. Later, a friend of mine studying for a doctorate in theology at Harvard recalled an old saying, 'Go to church, not for the sermon, but the music to hear'... This recording contains 15 hymns, five of them sung beautifully and powerfully by soprano Sarah Shafer and the rest performed by Lisa Bontrager and Grace Salyards on horns and Timothy Shafer on piano... The recording provides a restful, reassuring, relaxing, uplifting listening experience...”
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [May 2019]
PROGRAM NOTESHYMNS FOR MY FATHER
I have loved hymns for as long as I can remember; they played an integral role in my family heritage. My father was a song-leader and pianist in church and his sister was a church organist for more than 50 years. My mother’s large family gatherings always ended around the piano, with everyone singing hymns. My husband sang in an outstanding men’s gospel quartet throughout his college years and our daughters still play hymns on our piano at home.
Now that many churches have moved to contemporary music, I miss the old hymns and the deep imprint they made on my soul. On occasion, when an old hymn is sung at church, my 92-year-old father standing next to me beautifully sings every single word of the tenor part, which is especially remarkable because he suffers from dementia. Although my father lives in a totally disoriented state, he still remembers our beloved hymns – every note and every word.
In recent years, as I have watched both my parents fade with age, hymns have become a great source of comfort to me. They have become nothing less than an inspiration, which led to my strong desire to “sing” them through my instrument, the horn.
Thus began my search for fresh, musically sophisticated sounds for familiar and meaningful hymns. I had already known some gifted composers and arrangers, and was fortunate to have been introduced to more through the project’s two-year evolution. In the end, I am thrilled with the variety and stunningly beautiful arrangements presented here, ten of which were created for this very project. Thank you, Paul Basler, Marc Guy, Brooke Hopkins, Paul Jones, James Naigus and Jeremy Strong!
I invited my longtime friend, pianist and Penn State faculty colleague, Dr. Timothy Shafer, to join me in this decades-long dream. Timothy and his family share my family’s love for hymns. As the beautiful arrangements for solo horn and piano began to arrive, however, I realized that I missed the hymns’ meaningful texts. To my delight, I discovered Marc Guy’s two-horn arrangement of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing / Jesus Loves Me,” and subsequently invited other composers to write for a combination of horns and piano, but also with soprano. I am absolutely thrilled with the collaborations and variety of music that ensued! Tim’s gifted daughters – soprano Sarah Shafer and horn player Grace Salyards – were clearly meant to join us. In addition to their amazing musicianship, I am deeply thankful for the added element of their friendship.
And so, here are hymns for my father… my heavenly Father and my own father. My hope is that this music will be both inspiring, and comforting.
To God be the glory!
PROGRAMMarc Guy | Arrangement of a hymn by George Elvey (Text: Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring)
CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS (Diademata) for soprano, horn and piano
Paul Basler | Arrangement of a hymn by Henry Monk
ABIDE WITH ME for horn and piano
Marc Guy | Arrangement of hymns by Robert Robinson and William Bradbury
COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING and JESUS LOVES ME for two horns and piano
Paul Jones | Arrangement of a hymn by Lowell Mason (Text: Isaac Watts)
WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS for soprano, two horns and piano
James Naigus | Arrangement of a traditional hymn by Rowland Prichard
HYFRYDOL FANTASY for horn and piano
Brooke Hopkins | Arrangement of a hymn by Philip Bliss
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL for horn and piano
Jeremy Strong | Arrangement of a traditional spiritual and of a hymn by John Grape (Text: Elvira Hall)
WERE YOU THERE? and JESUS PAID IT ALL for soprano, two horns and piano
Paul Basler | Arrangement of an Irish hymn
BE THOU MY VISION for horn and piano
Paul Jones | Arrangement of a hymn by Philip Bliss
WHEN PEACE LIKE A RIVER for two horns and piano
Jeremy Strong | Arrangement of a traditional spiritual
DEEP RIVER for horn and piano
Jeremy Strong | Arrangement of a Genevan Psalter hymn by John Dykes
(Text: Thomas Ken and Reginald Heber)
PRAISE THE HOLY TRINITY (The Old Hundredth) for soprano, two horns and piano
James Naigus | Arrangement of an Irish melody
OH DANNY BOY for horn and piano
Marc Guy | Arrangement of a hymn by William Kirkpatrick
‘TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS for horn and piano
Brooke Hopkins | Arrangement of a Celtic hymn by Vikki Cook (Text: Charitie Bancroft) and a hymn by William Runyan (Text: Thomas Chisholm)
BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE and GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS
for soprano, two horns and piano
Brooke Hopkins | Arrangement of a traditional American melody
MY SHEPHERD WILL SUPPLY MY NEED for horn and piano