Music of the Month: Piano Resonance

June 7, 2022 Nathan Grime

Celebrated composer Marianne Kim has written an uplifting collection of hymn arrangements for piano based on favorite hymns of praise. These pieces feature contemporary and nontraditional harmonies and rhythms with a touch of jazz. Kim’s style provides a fresh take on traditional hymns.

The Composer

Marianne Kim is a Chicago-based composer, pianist, organist, and harpsichordist. She has more than four hundred compositions in print through a variety of publishers, and Piano Resonance is her premiere publication of a collection of compositions with Concordia Publishing House. She has previously contributed to CPH’s Piano Prelude Series.

Kim holds advanced degrees in jazz studies and organ performance. In addition to being a composer and performer, Kim is also a church musician. She is currently principal organist at Christ Church in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Favorite Hymns of Praise

Most of the hymn tunes featured in Piano Resonance should be familiar to even the casual church musician. This makes the new and fresh arrangements in this collection a welcome addition to a well-established canon of favorite hymn tunes.

And, although the settings make use of contemporary and jazz styles that feature unique harmonies and rhythms, the melodies of the familiar tunes remain prominently stated within sections of each setting.

The compositions are expansive without being repetitive, giving each setting an improvisatory and extemporaneous feel. Piano students and recitalists looking for jazz and contemporary settings of sacred tunes should find these settings useful for both study and performance.

Hymn-Based Piano Settings for the Church Service

Church musicians should also find these settings useful within the context of the church service. Since the hymn tunes are popular, church pianists should find an abundance of appropriate opportunities to feature these commonly sung hymns as solo piano pieces.

While some church musicians and their congregations are used to the piano being the primary instrument used during the church service, even those church organists who find themselves dusting off the piano keys only on rare occasions may consider those times when a piano prelude would add a bit of welcome variety to the constancy of organ music.

Hymn-based piano preludes may be used in a variety of places throughout the church service: as preservice music, as a voluntary or musical offertory, or during Communion. 

Why You Should Try New Hymn-Based Piano Preludes

If a congregation is used to hearing organ music as they enter the sanctuary for the church service, that music may fade into the background without being noticed. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this; however, if they notice the piano being played upon entering the sanctuary, they may pay attention to the hymn tune that is being played and be better prepared to sing that hymn during the service. The same could be the case for a piano setting as a voluntary or during Communion, interspersed with the singing of hymns.

And, to return to the idea of these being settings on favorite hymns, a different instrument or new sound of a familiar hymn may prompt the listeners to consider a well-known text or tune in a new light, revisiting the depth and breadth of a beloved hymn text even if it had previously become monotonous.

Adding piano music to a usually organ-heavy musical repertoire also gives a congregation the opportunity to make use of those musicians who are skilled pianists but haven’t yet learned to play the organ. And who knows? If a pianist is given the opportunity to play for the church service, perhaps he or she would be moved to enlist themself to address the church’s ever-present need for organists and regular musicians!

Order your copy of Piano Resonance today by clicking the button below. 

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