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Te Deum, Opus 11 - Jeanne Demessieux Centennial Tribute

Te Deum, Opus 11 - Jeanne Demessieux Centennial Tribute

Te Deum, Opus 11 by Jeanne Demessieux Organists: Kimberly Marshall, Janet Yieh, Susan Jane Matthews, Katelyn Emerson, Joy-Leilani Garbutt Recorded in October 2021 for the Jeanne Demessieux Centennial Tribute In her journal entry of January 30, 1958, Jeanne Demessieux wrote with characteristic humility: “A l’orgue de Saint-John the Divine, j’essaie mon Te Deum, inspire de cet orgue, et en éprouve comme un soulagement, c’était ce que j’avais entendu.” [At the organ of St. John the Divine, I tried my Te Deum, inspired by this organ, and to my relief it turned out as I had intended.] The second of Demessieux’s three American tours had concluded in 1955 with a recital at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. The cathedral’s 1910 E.M. Skinner organ, enlarged in 1953 by G. Donald Harrison, boasts 143 ranks, including the State Trumpet added by Harrison – a horizontal reed mounted beneath the rose window at the west end of the nave, more than six hundred feet from the main organ console. This fiery stop inspired Demessieux to the composition of a work incorporating the trinitarian hymn of thanksgiving and its declamation on this most noble rank of pipes - in French, the trompette en chamade. This stop is rarely found on French organs, and this is her only work which calls for the rank. Composed in early January of 1958, Demessieux played her Te Deum, Op. 11 in recital many times in her third tour of the United States that year, though only to her own delight at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She recorded the Te Deum at La Madeleine in July of 1958, this recording used as the guide track for the opening and closing of this centennial tribute video. Most likely, Demessieux had frequently improvised on the Te Deum chant at St.-Esprit and while assisting Dupré at St.-Sulpice. Liturgically, since the sixth century the Te Deum has been sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and feast days except on the Sundays of Advent and those Sundays from Septuagesima (third Sunday before Ash Wednesday) to Palm Sunday inclusive. It follows or replaces the last responsory and is followed immediately by the office of Lauds. It is also sung as a processional chant; as a hymn of thanksgiving at consecrations and ordinations; and at the close of some medieval mystery plays. Its authorship remains unknown, though medieval legends attributed it to St. Ambrose and St. Augustine who spontaneously sung it in alternation at the baptism of the latter saint (AD 387). Chant is often referred to as melody heightening a text, and Demessieux, as any Parisian organist, would have had an intimate knowledge of the text of the Te Deum. The text may be divided into three sections: 1. an ancient hymn of praise to God; 2. Christological hymn; and 3. Psalms. One may trace motives from the Te Deum chant throughout Opus 11 to find a work permeated by the quotation of chant, from the opening Moderato proclamation, to an ostinato bass, an Andante canon with augmentation in the pedal, to an Allegro evocative of dancing cherubim and seraphim. In 1962, Demessieux was appointed to the esteemed church organist post of La Madeleine in Paris, where Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré numbered among her many distinguished predecessors, playing the 1843 Cavaille-Coll organ. The current organist (2021) is François Houbart. The organ is quite different today from during Demessieux’s tenure, with alterations including extension of the 54/30 compass to 56/32, the electrification of the action, and the addition of two horizontal reeds, the latter wonderful additions for the performance of the Te Deum. Behind the organ console is hung a memorial plaque depicting Demessieux, shown at the close of these centennial tribute videos. The Jeanne Demessieux Centennial Tribute was produced by Joy-Leilani Garbutt, Susan Jane Matthews, and Janet Yieh. Fourteen women organists participated from around the United States: Linda Buzard, Carolyn Craig, Katelyn Emerson, Joy-Leilani Garbutt, Renée Anne Louprette, Nicole Marane, Kimberly Marshall, Susan Jane Matthews, Crista Miller, Jennifer Pascual, Catherine Rodland, Sarah Simko, Maxine Thévenot, and Janet Yieh. Elizabeth Kimble was the audio and video engineer. The Jeanne Demessieux Centennial Tribute is presented in partnership with Amplify Female Composers, and made possible in part through the support of a Special Projects Grant from the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (SFAGO). Other videos in the Demessieux Centennial Tribute Sacred Spaces and Inspirations 12 Choral Preludes
For more videos please visit Joy-Leilani's YouTube Channel
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