USAO professor helms twin concerts in Chickasha, Switzerland
Musician, composer and teacher Dr. Stephen Weber celebrates the rich history of hymns with a pipe organ concert scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on May 5 at Epworth United Methodist Church in Chickasha.
The event is free and open to the public.
Weber, a professor of music and chairman of the Arts and Humanities division at the University of Science and Arts, designed the concert as a celebration of the hymn.
He is expected to present works by famed organists such as J.S. Bach, Johann Pachelbel and Paul Manz among others.
Weber will also premier his own new melodic and harmonic setting of “Amazing Grace.”
The audience will be invited to participate in the singing of Weber’s new musical setting, which will be led by soprano Crystal Davis, a USAO music graduate who is active in the music ministry at Epworth United Methodist Church.
Weber sees hymns as the marriage of poetry and music and integral to the experience of worship.
“Numerous composers have written organ music based on hymns, which have served to characterize the text, introduce the tune to the worshippers and augment the theme of worship services,” Weber says.
The Chickasha concert is a local preview for a second concert, planned for later in May, which will find Weber in Merishausen, Switzerland, his family’s ancestral home.
In recent years, Weber has studied the history of his Weber ancestors, who came from the town of Merishausen, a rural suburb of the Schaffhausen/Rhine Falls area in northern Switzerland.
Through a series of coincidental contacts via email, Weber was extended an invitation to perform a concert at St. Martin’s church in Merishausen.
“I’ve been so impressed with the Swiss contacts I’ve made,” Weber says. “They definitely have a set protocol, a systematic way of doing things, but a very pleasant and welcoming demeanor.”
The program for the organ concert that will be presented in Chickasha and Switzerland features several significant composers in the organ chorale prelude genre.
“I thought that since I was performing for a Swiss audience over there, I should include some music of Swiss origin,” Weber says.
He is scheduled to perform four organ settings of “Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir,” a hymn that has its origin in the Geneva (Switzerland) Psalter dating back to the 16th century.
Most Americans know this hymn as “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” or the Doxology.
Weber’s program will also include three works by Swiss Composer Rudolf Moser, who was music minister at a cathedral in Basel, Switzerland in the 1900’s.
Though Weber is primarily a composer and pianist, he is a self-taught organist as well. Over one-third of his published compositions are works for organ, 28 of which are published in four separate volumes.
Weber, who earned his doctorate in fine arts degree from Texas Tech, has been on the faculty at USAO since 1995. He received the USAO Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching in 1997 and has been honored for scholarly activity three times, in 1998, 2003 and, most recently, in 2011.
Weber was a recipient of Standard Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) each year since 1994 through 2007. His works have been performed at national and regional music conferences and include venues in New York, Dallas and Santa Fe.
Weber performs as organist a couple times a month at First Lutheran Church in Chickasha.