Mark Cabaniss, Managing Director of Alfred Sacred, caught up recently with veteran composer/arranger Anna Laura Page to discuss her latest projects released with Alfred Sacred, plus a bit about her career and philosophies as a writer.
MC: Hi Anna Laura! Thank you for taking a few moments to speak with me today. You’ve got a loyal following out there, me included. I’ve used dozens of your pieces over the years with choirs I’ve directed and they always work beautifully. How did you get your start in writing and when was your first piece published?
ALP: THANK YOU! AGES AGO, I WENT TO A KEYBOARD WORKSHOP LED BY SHARRON LYON. SHE HEARD ME PLAY A HYMN FREE-HARMONIZATION AND ASKED IF I EVER WROTE THOSE DOWN…SHE NEEDED 3 THE NEXT WEEK, AND THAT’S WHERE IT ALL STARTED! MY FIRST PUBLICATION WAS A ONE-PAGE FREE-HYMN HARMONIZATION IN THE “CHURCH MUSICIAN”.
MC: That’s great! I know Sharron gave a lot of writers their start. She has such an eye for talent, and we’re all glad she discovered you! After that first published piece, what followed?
ALP: AFTER SHARRON’S INTEREST IN MY KEYBOARD SETTINGS, I CONTINUED TO WRITE FOR ORGAN AND PIANO. THEN CAME A FEW CHORALS FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND ADULTS, AND HANDBELLS CAME A BIT LATER. MY CHURCH JOB WAS A GREAT INCENTIVE TO WRITE!
MC: What do you like most about composing and arranging?
ALP: I LOVE TRYING NEW THINGS WITH IDEAS AND HARMONIES. I LOVE MELODY AND I LOVE WORKING WITH DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS SUCH AS HANDBELLS, ORGAN AND PIANO – JOINED BY VOICES MANY TIMES.
MC: Your latest publication with Alfred Sacred is a stirring arrangement of WE SING THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD. What drew you to this text and tune?
ALP: THAT TEXT WAS WRITTEN BY ISAAC WATTS IN 1715 AND IT SPEAKS ABOUT HOW GOD’S POWER IS MIGHTY AND HIS CREATION IS AN EXTENSION OF HIS MIGHTY POWER. THE HYMN TUNE IS MAJESTIC AND IT MAKES A PERFECT “WEDDING” OF TUNE AND TEXT FOR PRAISING GOD THE FATHER.
MC: You also have two new handbell publications with Alfred Sacred: GOOD CHRISTIAN FRIENDS, REJOICE and COME THOU, ALMIGHTY KING. Tell us a bit about each of those settings.
ALP: IT’S NICE TO HAVE ONE CHRISTMAS TUNE RELEASED WITH THE GENERAL HYMN TUNE. BOTH OF THESE SETTINGS ARE LEVEL 1, 2-3 OCTAVES OF BELLS, AND THAT MAKES THEM VERY ACCESSIBLE TO LEARNING GROUPS AND THOSE WHO NEED A QUICK PIECE FOR A SPECIFIC PROGRAM. BOTH SETTINGS ARE BRIGHT AND EXUBERANT AND WILL BE FUN TO RING. IN ADDITION, BOTH HYMNS HAVE WONDERFUL TEXTS THAT CAN BE REFERENCED TO THOSE WHO RING AND LISTEN.
MC: You and your family live in Texas…tell me about your life there nowadays.
ALP: MY HUSBAND IS A RETIRED (USING THAT TERM VERY LOOSELY) COLLEGE PRESIDENT WHO WORKS AS A CONSULTANT FOR A SEARCH FIRM THAT PLACES COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS.. WE STILL LIVE IN SHERMAN, TX WHERE WE ARE CLOSE TO LONG-TIME FRIENDS AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES AT AUSTIN COLLEGE. WE LIVE ON A SMALL CITY LAKE WHERE WE WATCH BLUEBIRDS AND OTHER WILDLIFE – WONDERFUL!
MC: Thank you for your time today Anna Laura! And thank you for your substantial contributions to sacred music through keyboard, handbell, and choral music. We look forward to many more exciting works in the time to come!
ALP: THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE IN TALKING ABOUT WHAT I LOVE TO DO!
I still use your anthem, “Keep Me True” on the Sunday that we honor our graduates. It is as relevant today as the first time I used it in 1986.