Interior of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. (Photo courtesy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields)

Interior of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. (Photo courtesy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields)

by Michael Caruso

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Chestnut Hill, hosted its final Choral Evensong of the season Sunday, June 7. The service showcased the many talents of the parish’s music director, Erik Meyer – organist, choir director and composer. In all three aspects of his craft, Meyer was shown to be continuing his growth and development, so much so that he is now undeniably one of the most influential musicians in the local church music community.

As an organist, Meyer was heard in Eugene Gigout’s “Grand Choeur Dialogue” at the Prelude and Louis Vierne’s “Carillon de Westminster” at the Postlude. With the help of the pipe organ’s trumpet stops, Meyer caught the blazing brilliance of the former in playing of incredible precision, both digitally and rhythmically.

As a composer, Meyer’s talents were heard in his settings of the texts that comprise the Evening Service of Anglican Choral Evensong, created for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer written by Thomas Cranmer, the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the historic seat of Christianity in England.

As a choir director, Meyer’s choristers did him proud Sunday afternoon, singing not only his works but also Mendelssohn’s lovely anthem, “Hear my prayer, O God,” at the Offertory. The performance featured a splendid soprano solo sung beautifully by Krystiane Cooper.

In an interesting coincidence of timing, St. Martin’s Choral Evensong fell on the same day as the great Roman Catholic Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ). With the upcoming departure of John Romeri as music director of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul (for displeasing Archbishop Charles Chaput by programming serious classical music), it’s highly unlikely that anyone anytime soon will be overseeing high-quality liturgical music of any note for Solemnities at the Cathedral. Thank goodness for St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. Paul’s Episcopal Churches here in Chestnut Hill for their exemplary musical programs.


Donald Nally will bring the chamber choir, The Crossing, to the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (PCCH) for “The Month of Moderns” Sunday afternoons, June 14 and 21, 4 p.m., and Saturday, June 27, 8 p.m. In contrast to several recent seasons, the entire three-concert series will take place in Chestnut Hill.

The first concert is entitled “Only Memory of Forgetting” and will feature a world premiere by Joel Puckett with Chestnut Hill’s Laura Ward at the piano. Puckett’s piece is “I Enter the Earth.” The program includes two other pieces. The second program, “Out of Hopeful Green Stuff Woven,” features the world premiere of Toivo Tulev’s “What Is the Grass,” among others. The final program, “We Beat Our Hands Against the Walls of Heaven,” includes Joby Talbot’s “Path of Miracles.”

“This year’s ‘Month of Moderns’ is a true festival,” explained The Crossing’s founder and artistic director, Donald Nally. “This is The Crossing’s favorite time of year because we get to spend concentrated time with each other and with our audiences, and we feel very fortunate that it all takes place in Chestnut Hill.”

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Earlier in the season, Dan Spratlan, the Church’s music director, led soloists from the Gallery Choir and players from the PCCH Consort in performances of Bach’s “Coffee” Cantata and six English madrigals. The concert took place in the Church’s Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel, the newly renovated worship space that has turned out to be a perfect intimate venue for chamber music, both vocal and instrumental. It was the final installment this season in the “Cantatas and Chamber Music” series of recitals that has enhanced the musical life of Chestnut Hill.

Spratlan, his seven-member baroque instruments ensemble and his three vocal soloists — soprano Julie Bishop as the daughter, bass Rob Phillips as the father and tenor Steven Williamson as the narrator — gave it a splendid interpretation.

Even more impressive was the playing of the Consort, featuring concertmaster Mandy Wolman and harpsichordist Ken Lovett. I can’t remember having heard finer Baroque instrumental playing at the Church this season — or anywhere else in Chestnut Hill, for that matter.

  • JP

    What happened at the Cathedral is yet another Roman Catholic disaster in the field of church music. So sad.