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German Lutheran era music showcased in Echoing Air

Posted on 02.07.2018

The performance group Echoing Air gave a performance of German Lutheran music in the Christel DeHann Fine Arts Center on Monday, Jan. 22.

According to the University of Indianapolis Events website, Echoing Air is a performance of late 16th to the early 18th century music. Performers played compositions from German Lutheran composers for singers and instruments that portray Lutheran ideals of personal relationships with God in the German vernacular of the people. The program guide also said that Martin Luther published his 95 Theses about 500 years ago, which indicated the start of the Protestant Reformation.

The reformation transformed the religious landscape of Europe, splitting the continent into Catholic and Protestant Christians. It also contributed to the Lutheran-era, composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach.

The group performed the music of Schütz, Schein, Buxtehude and Lübeck. Echoing Air was performed by Nathan Medley and Steven Rickards as countertenors, Jeffrey Collier and Keith Collins on recorders, Christine Kyprianides playing the viola da gamba and Thomas Gerber on the harpsichord. During the performance, the group members alternate between telling Lutheran-era artists stories of hardships and their achievements.

The show opened with the first verse of Johann Herman Schein’s “Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott,”which is translates as “Our God is a secure fortress,” according to the program.

Adjunct Professor of Music Steven Rickards is the founder of the group and also teaches at Butler, Indiana Univeristy-Bloomington and Marian University.  Rickards said that the group started working on this program last summer and toured to
Atlanta, Georgia and performed at a music festival in Michigan. Rickards said they put in a lot of work to prepare for their performances.

“[We] will practice for a few hours, take a break, then come back together for another couple of hours,” Rickards said.

Nathan Medley, said that as a musician their lives vary and that they are not always able to spend a large amount of time practicing for a performance.

“With this ensemble I feel very comfortable, I don’t think I’ve ever felt nervous with Echoing Air,” Medley said.

Rickards praised the group’s performance and said that his favorite piece that night was “Bone Jesu, verbum Patris” by Heinrich Schütz. Rickards said that he thought it was a great performance and that he had fun performing it.

According to the program, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the publishing of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

“[Luther] reformed the way Christianity was practiced—[that] man can talk directly to God [and] that you don’t need to go through an intercessory in order to find it,” Rickards said.

Medley said what makes Echoing Air special is that this music is under performed and that most people would not find someone performing these pieces because the pieces are often written in either German or Latin.

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