Special Music from the UCC Church, 28 June 2009
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'Special Music'

From the Historic German Evangelical United Church of Christ
Boonville, Missouri: Sunday, June 28, 2009
Ilmari Hopkins, Cello, and Aline Rocha, Piano

A special musical addition to the 2009 Boonville Heritage Days weekend was the performance by the Finnish-American cellist Ilmari Hopkins and the Brazilian pianist Aline Rocha on June 28th at the Evangelical United Church of Christ. Ilmari and Aline were in the U.S. for the North American tour of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and were visiting Boonville for the first time especially to perform in Ilmari's ancestral family church.

Ilmari is the son of the pianist and composer James Robert Hopkins of Lahti, Finland. Robert is the youngest son of the late Woodard Brownfield and Erna Rowe Hopkins of Boonville.

A Church and Musical Tradition Into Its Third Century

The Hopkins and Rowe families have a strong historical connection with the church and its musical tradition. Ilmari's great-great-grandfather, Johann David Christian Rau, was one of the founders of the original German Evangelical Church of Boonville, from which the UCC evolved. His great-grandfather William Martin Rowe was church vice-president and a stalwart of the choir until his death in 1936. His funeral was the first time that the choir wore robes, which had been completed in his honor just in time for the service. The church Memorial Fund was also established at that time in his memory.

All six of William Martin and Christine Toellner Rowe's children, Alverta Rowe Souder, Edwin Rowe, Erna Rowe Hopkins, Vera Rowe Grathwohl, William Toellner [W.T.] Rowe, and Kenneth Christian Rowe, were active in the church and its musical tradition. Erna and Vera were life-long church members, with their siblings having left Boonville after marriage.

Ilmari's grandfather, Woodard B. Hopkins Sr., was choir director from 1931 until his death in 1961, and all five of Woodard and Erna Hopkins' children, William Thomas, Woodard Jr., Sara Jane, John David and James Robert, have been part of the church's musical history — especially William Thomas and Sara Jane — as were Vera's children, Charles William and Elizabeth Ann. On June 28th, Ilmari continued this musical tradition into its third century, with Aline accompanying him on the former Hopkins family piano, now in the church sanctuary.

Order and Background Notes on the Music

  • Prelude: Romance in C Minor [MP3], Oskar Merikanto (1868-1924)

    The Finnish composer Oskar Merikanto was a contemporary of Jean Sibelius; both of their Romances were composed in the late 19th century, during a period of growing nationalism before Independence in 1917. The Romance in C Minor especially reflects the melancholic, nostalgic mood of Finnish folk music.

  • Special Music: I Love Thee [MP3], (op.5, #3), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) and Romance op.78 N.2 [MP3], Jean Sibelius (1865-1967)

    Edvard Grieg's I Love Thee was a frequent request for Woodard Hopkins Sr. to sing at local weddings, often accompanied by Sara Jane on the piano. It was also performed by Robert on the piano and Ilmari on the cello for the 1999 wedding in Tampere, Finland, of John and Maritta's daughter Christina Anne Elisabeth.

    The thought of being so in love with someone that you want to be with them into eternity is so romantic that once Grieg had set Hans Christian Andersen's poem Jeg elsker dig to music, it soon had many variations. The version sung by Woodard Hopkins Sr. was based on the German Ich liebe dich by F. von Holstein.

    The English translation of the lyrics is:

    "Thou art my joy, the radiance of my being,
    Thou art my heart's desire, my ecstasy!
    I cherish thee, my every passion freeing,
    I love thee, dear; I love thee, dear,
    I love thee, dear; now and eternally;
    I love thee dear, now and eternally."

  • Offertory Music: Allegro moderato [MP3], Franz Schubert (1797-1828), from the D821 'Arpeggione' Sonata in A Minor

    Schubert's D821 Sonata in A Minor (1824) was originally written for the "arpeggione," or the guitarre d'amour. Nowadays it is usually performed on a viola or cello. The opening Allegro moderato is built around a hauntingly beautiful melody which is often recognized even by those who have never heard of the sonata.

  • Pre-Hymn: Theme from Finlandia, Jean Sibelius

    Jean Sibelius' Finlandia is not only a national song of Finland, but was also the music played at the April 12, 1941 wedding of Vera Rowe and Henry Grathwohl by her sister, Alverta Rowe Souder, on the piano, with Woodard Hopkins Sr. the soloist. Finlandia is also the melody for Vera's favorite hymn, "This is My Song," which after two of the Hopkins brothers had moved to Finland, always seemed to appear, as if by magic, in the worship service whenever they returned to their home church.

  • Post-Service: Sonata for Piano and Cello in E Minor, (op. 38) Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

    Brahms' First Cello Sonata is a powerful work by one of music's greatest composers, a favorite of Ilmari's that he and his father had performed for Sara when she was last in Finland, for the wedding of Ilmari's sister Marilla, for whom Sara is godmother.

    The opening Allegro non troppo [MP3] builds to a climax in which it is the cello that accompanies the piano, reminding us that the work is titled Sonate für Klavier und Violoncello and not the other way around. The second movement, Allegretto quasi Menuetto [MP3], is a melancholy minuet. The closing Allegro [MP3] is a passionate fugue that evolves into a rondo, concluding with a coda.


    Background on Ilmari Hopkins and Aline Rocha

    Born in Finland, Ilmari Hopkins is principal cellist of the Stavanger (Norway) Symphony Orchestra. Ilmari has performed widely as a soloist with orchestra and in chamber music ensembles in Europe, South America and Japan.

    The Skasei Trio ensemble in which he performs was winner of the Europe-wide Gaetano Zinetti Competition in Verona, Italy, in 2006. Ilmari is on the Youth Orchestra of the Americas faculty for the 2nd year.

    Born in Brazil, Aline Rocha has received prizes in numerous competitions, most recently the Claudio Arrau International Piano Competition in Chile. Aline is also in her second year with YOA. In 2008 she performed as a soloist with the Symphonic Orchestra of Colombia under Jean-Pascal Hamelin, and in the fall of 2009 she will record a CD featuring the music of the Brazilian composer Calimerio Soares under the direction of the German conductor Götz Hartmann.

    The Youth Orchestra of the Americas, led by Artistic Advisor Plácido Domingo, is a multicultural world class symphony of outstanding musicians aged 18-28 from North and South America, promoting international friendship and understanding through music. All players are selected through national and international auditions, and perform on full scholarship.

    Hopkins and Rowe Relatives Who Returned For the Service

    Among the Hopkins and Rowe relatives present for the June 28 service were Sara Jane Hopkins Beene; Patricia Miller Hopkins; John and Maritta Hopkins; James and Joyce Hopkins Symmonds (daughter of Woodard's brother Harry Hopkins); Norma Jean Hopkins Swartz (daughter of Woodard's brother Forrest Hopkins); Ann Souder Schreen (daughter of Alverta Rowe Souder); Angalia (`Ann') Haas Rowe, wife of W.T. Rowe, and her son Ed and his wife Karen; Betty Ann Grathwohl Maddex (daughter of Vera Grathwohl), and her husband Robert Maddex; and Kurt and Kristen Grathwohl, Vera's grandchildren.


    The online recordings linked above are in compressed MP3 format for easier web playback. A CD in full digital audio (see cover and tracklist above) of the June 28 church service and performance is also available.

    The original recording was via an Olympus Digital LS-10 Linear PCM Recorder mounted on a Shannon tripod.
    Digital editing and MP3 conversion was via Audacity, with the CD produced via Nero software.

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