Unanswerable Questions--The beginning of an ongoing segment here at PostConsumer Reports where I ask questions to people of interest who will most likely never answer them, simply because I do not know them and probably never will. Still, the questions come and I have got to ask them somewhere. I have so many questions. So so many.
This Sunday, August 28th I will be attending the Fernando Ortega concert at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois (http://wesley-umc.com/). So, I thought I would end my unofficial Fernando Ortega month (see previous blog posts) by "asking" him some of the questions that have popped into my mind as I have been listening to his music the past few weeks. I am sure there are still tickets to the concert so if you are able to come it would be great to see you there. Most of the questions I have for Fernando deal directly with his new album Come Down O Love Divine which was released this summer.
- The choral pieces on your new album sound great. At times they sound a little like the work of contemporary choral composer Morten Lauridsen. I’m wondering if he’s been an influence on you at all.
- In line with the first question, as far as I know you’ve never included choral pieces on an album of yours before. Have you just recently started writing for vocal ensembles since you are in a new context as a music leader in an Anglican church or do you have a bunch of choral works just waiting to be performed? Also, out of curiosity, are you using any of the modes as a tonal base in any of them; at times they remind me of the setting of the Psalms in the Plainsong Psalter?
- How intentional are you in making your music slow in tempo and contemplative in tone? I’m thinking especially of pieces like “Grace and Peace” off of Shadow of Your Wings and “Kyrie 1” off of Come Down? In composing pieces like this are you deliberately intending to slow down the listener or the worshipper as they open his or her hearts to God or did you compose them that way simply because that’s what you like and that’s the particular song that came out in the moment?
- I find much of your music very easy to sing. I pick up on the melodies quickly and yet they are melodies that endure. In composing your own sacred songs or in arranging older hymns, how much do you think about the needs of congregations who might potentially sing your songs?
- In the congregation where you lead the music do you often have them sing some of your own songs, like “Sing to Jesus” or “Come and Worship”? It’s one thing to sing your own songs during a concert, but do you at all feel self-conscious about having them sing your own music, as if it would be vain to have a congregation sing something you’ve written yourself? Also, do you typically “roadtest” songs before a congregation first?
- I noticed in the liner notes that you did not site the original hymn “Just as I Am” as a source. Is there a reason you left that out?
- A number of the songs on your new album are pulled directly out of the liturgy, which means that in an Anglican setting they would be sung at specific times during the liturgy and not just during a long worship set as in a lot of Evangelical churches. Were your compositions written out of necessity for your position at the church you work at or did you just like the texts and wanted to set them to music? Also what can you tell us about how your perspectives on worship and singing has changed since becoming Anglican, something you addressed in a recent blog post?
- Over the years you have been on a number of different record labels. Your new label is partly owned by Sandi Patty. What can you tell us about your new label, why you had to switch labels, and how being with a different label affects how your music is distributed, marketed, and even recorded?
- Could I have the sheet music for “Kyrie I,” “Trisagion,” and “Aaron’s Blessing”? Pretty please? Thanks!