Accompanying “Stained Glass”

Introduction by Leohone Magno, Organist & Director of Music

Up from the austere and initially musically barren desert of our Covid ravaged worship has come a truly lovely “blossom”— a gentle offering of voices in simple harmony, accompanied by a lone recorder. This is “Stained Glass,” our charming ensemble (see photo above) from the congregation, under the direction of Tomàs Ramos, Orvis Scholar. We enjoy this unique musical blessing of their music every 4-5 weeks —on the same Sundays when our 5-voice Cathedral Choir sings at Evensong at 5:30 p.m.

Accompanying Stained Glass, by Ann Hansen

Several people have asked me about the instrument I play to accompany Stained Glass.  Although everyone is familiar with the soprano recorder (12” in length) that is taught in elementary school, they do not recognize my instrument as also being in the recorder family.  Recorders range from garkleins (6” in length) to sub contrabass recorders, which require a stool for the musician to stand upon in order to be able to reach the mouthpiece!  In total there are nine sizes of recorders, which are all considered woodwind instruments.

Typically, I play a bass recorder which hovers around middle C.  After Tomas Ramos, our conductor and interpreter of music, gives me the tempo, I present an introduction.  That gives the singers the key and pitches to orient them to the pitches of their part.  Occasionally, I play a section of the piece on either soprano or alto for a special effect.  But most of the time, I stay on my bass recorder.

My bass is a Küng Superio made in Switzerland.  This model is known for its rich overtones and vibrato.  Mine is made in cherrywood constructed with a “knick neck”.  The instrument is 4 feet in length and for those of us with short arms and finger spans, it helps to have the bent neck and plenty of keys to reach and cover the air holes.

Being able to accompany the Stained Glass singers:  Mary Fiedler, Anne Murphy, Tomas Ramos and Paul Beck, has been a joy. Having a chance to remain musically active during the pandemic has been the highlight of my life during this period of restrictions.