Madison Performing Arts concert to feature original compositions Friday
Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:00 AM
A local musician plans to share his music with the community Friday during a concert featuring original compositions performed by a vocal ensemble.
Local musician James Stanley poses in front of the organ at the First Christian Church, 512 W. Main St. The Madison Performing Arts Foundation will present a concert of Stanley's original compositions at 7 p.m. Friday at the church. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
James Stanley, organist and choir director at the Hanover Presbyterian Church, grew up around music in the churches where his father served as pastor and began playing musical instruments at a young age. He played in several bands growing up and went to college to study music. Stanley earned a bachelors degree in organ performance and a masters degree in organ pedagogy.
He taught a few classes after obtaining his masters degree from Columbus State University in Georgia. Yet, composing his own music wasn't exactly something he tried to achieve over the years.
"It all started as doodles," he said. "It just kind of happens."
As a barista at a Georgia coffee shop, Stanley would bring music staff paper to fill in the downtime between customers. He'd begin doodling to see what he could come up with and would send his work to his brother, Jonathan, the music director at Madison Presbyterian Church. Sometimes Stanley's brother would send back critiques and comments. Sometimes his brother would keep the work to use in performances.
He first began composing for bands that he played in during middle school. The composing continued in college because of his studies, and during his years teaching music, it became easier to write his own compositions for class examples than to spend hours going through scores to find an exact match. Now, writing pieces helps Stanley find just the right piece of music for an upcoming event or to fit the church choir he directs.
"I tend to write functionally," he said. "It's not necessarily an artistic endeavor."
Stanley said he writes for a choir's ability. Many of the classics were written for choirs that were trained to be singers, with a large range of sound. Today's church choirs don't have quite a range as before.
Most of his compositions are taken directly from the texts of the Bible, he said, and most of his compositions are to be performed a capella - like many of the pieces that will be performed Friday at Madison's First Christian Church, 512 W. Main St.
Stanley will also host a reading session beginning at for local choir directors at the First Christian Church on Saturday to share his original compositions for local church groups.
"None of my work is published," he said, yet several of his pieces have been performed by area choirs before.
The reading session will allow groups to find new material for their services or special events.
"We're all in this together," Stanley said of other church musicians, and there will be no charge for copies of his compositions.
Friday's performance begins at 7 p.m., and is expected to last about an hour. Saturday's reading session for local choir directors and singers begins at 10 a.m. and is also expected to last about an hour.
All of the Madison Performing Arts Foundation events are family-friendly and open to the public. There is no charge for the concert, but donations will be accepted to help with costs of future performances.
Other upcoming performances for the Madison Performing Arts Foundation include Barefoot Best Friends at the First Baptist Church on March 15 and Karen Kness at the Madison Presbyterian Church on April 12.