(credit: Mark Gresham / mid-journey AI)

Earpiece #26: A Thanksgiving Fugue

Mark Gresham | 23 NOV 2023

Episode 26 of Earpiece, an occasional series of audio and video presentations curated by EarRelevant’s publisher and principal writer Mark Gresham.

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, a national holiday celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it is also a secular civic holiday, a time for families and communities to gather and give thanks for the blessings of the harvest and the preceding year.

One popular musical tradition associated with Thanksgiving is the hymn “We Gather Together,” often sung at religious services and sometimes family meals.

In observance of Thanksgiving Day, we offer below a brief audio: a fugue based on that hymn-tune by composer Susan Tepping, performed by violist Paul Murphy, cellist Dorothy Lewis, and pianist Cary Lewis playing together at the time as Musica da Camera.


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This performance was an encore for a Musica da Camera subscription concert on Nov 24, 1991, at Emory University’s Cannon Chapel right after the musicians played Tepping’s Baroque Christmas Suite. Pianist Cary Lewis believes this was the only time they ever performed it.

In announcing the encore at the concert, Lewis said:

Since it’s closer to Thanksgiving than it is to Christmas, we need to play one more little piece for it. It’s not on the program, but it’s a piece that Susan gave us a couple of years ago after we recorded these pieces for a little album that Georgia State [University] put out — a little Christmas album — and so she wanted to thank us. So she wrote us a Thanksgiving hymn. So we’d like to play that for you, too. It’s just about as long as these other works. It’s actually called “A Thanksgiving Fugue,” subtitled “We Gather Together.”

Listen here:

AUDIO:

Musica da Camera performs “A Thanksgiving Fugue” live (1991)

Susan TEPPING: A Thankgiving Fugue

Musica da Camera: Paul Murphy, viola; Dorothy Lewis, cello; Cary Lewis, piano.
Total Duration: 1:25
Audio used by permission.


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About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. He began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.

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