Fairmount String Quartet to perform ‘Seven Last Words of Christ’ on Good Friday

by Michael Caruso
Posted 4/6/23

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields will host a performance by the Fairmount String Quartet of Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross.”

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Fairmount String Quartet to perform ‘Seven Last Words of Christ’ on Good Friday


The Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields will host a performance by the Fairmount String Quartet of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross” as part of its marking of Holy Week. The presentation will take place on Good Friday, April 7, at 7 p.m.

The Fairmount String Quartet features violinists Rachel Segal and Leah Kyoungwoon Kim-Tomilson, violist Beth Dzwil and cellist Mimi Morris Kim. The ensemble is in residence at St. Martin’s Church.

Haydn composed the work in 1786. It is comprised of an “Introduction” movement, seven instrumental “Sonatas,” and a closing movement entitled “Earthquake.” The work was the product of a commission by the priests of the Holy Cave Oratory in Cadiz, Spain. Its original form was for symphony orchestra. Later that year, Haydn arranged the instrumental score for string quartet. There is also a version that includes full chorus. It was written during the middle 1790s.

“This is a service consisting of seven readings, reflections and music on the seven last words (phrases) spoken by Christ from the cross on Good Friday,” Dzwil explained. “Members of St. Martin’s Church will deliver the reflections on each reading from Scripture. Each of the reflections will be followed by a period of meditation during which the Fairmount Quartet will perform the movement (dubbed a sonata) of Haydn’s String Quartet, Opus 51. Each instrumental movement corresponds to the reading that precedes it. It’s a beautiful service and we look forward to playing in it each year.” 

Piffaro ‘On the Hill’

On Saturday evening, March 25. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, performed a concert entitled “Music from the Austrian Court and Countryside” at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The performance  – topnotch as always – drew an audience of a good 200 local music lovers.

Piffaro’s core players – newly named artistic director Priscilla Herreid, founding member Grant Herreid, Greg Ingles and Erik Schmalz – were joined by Georgeanna Baker, Fiona Last, Margaret Owens and Matthew Glandorf. Together they played a program of music that spanned the 15th through 16th centuries that was composed and performed throughout the central Austrian lands of the Holy Roman Empire. By that time, the Empire was controlled through inheritance by the Habsburgs of Vienna.

The consorts of shawms, recorders, sackbuts, dulcians, lutes, crumhorns and organ played with flawless ensemble, tart timbres, sparkling textures, biting dissonances, invigorating rhythms and (with one notable exception) immaculate tuning. 

That sole exception was not the result of any of the players. It wasn’t even the fault of the one player – organist Matthew Glandorf – who played the instrument that was at fault. 

The problem was that Chestnut Hill Presbyterian’s magnificent Mander pipe organ seemed to have been tuned beyond the norms of intonation. It sounded as though not a single rank of pipes was in tune with another. I find it hard to believe that this mishap couldn’t have been avoided. In spite of the occasional calliope-like cacophony, Glandorf played memorably.

Piffaro will return to Chestnut Hill Saturday, May 20, for “Entre dos Alamos.” Visit piffaro.org.


The Academy of Vocal Arts, whose president and artistic director is East Falls’ K. James McDowell, offered local opera lovers a tantalizing preview of its production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” with “Jubilate!” March 18 & 19. I caught the first performance Saturday, March 18, in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr and came away convinced that AVA must be the best trainer of young operatic singers in the country.

With David Lofton conducting the AVA Opera Orchestra, “Jubilate!” proffered 15 of the school’s students in music spanning the repertoire from Bach to Vaughan Williams in performances that rang with emotional commitment.

AVA will present Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” April 27 through May 9. Visit wavaopera.org or call 215-735-1685.

You can contact NOTEWORTHY at Michael-caruso@comcast.net.