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Travel & Leisure

Love - the 'Music that Calls Us Home'

MARSHA REINIERS Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 10, 2013 at 07:49 PM

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"Love is the whisper of angels ... love is the music that calls us home." Based on I Corinthians 13, these lyrics written by nationally renowned composer and pianist Joseph Martin can be heard this Sunday in a Valentine's Day love-themed concert at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill.

At the invitation of Choir Director Jack Evans, Martin returns to Spring Hill to direct the 85-voice Chancel Choir in a concert based on a sprinkling of Martin's published 1,200 pieces. An accomplished pianist, Martin will also be tickling the ivories of the grand piano with several of his compositions and arrangements. "I am looking forward to this particular event," said Martin. "The emphasis is so special - the sanctity of love and our divine relationship with God and our love of country."

Accompanying Martin is his wife, Sue Martin, who performed with Disney for more than 20 years and sang with the "Voices of Liberty" at Epcot. She has just released her first CD. She has played the role of Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and sang in Broadway revues at various Disney venues. Martin likes to joke that he "is married to a mermaid." Martin says that Sue will sing a few love songs and possibly throw in a Disney song or two.

Martin has been the featured artist with symphony orchestras in the United States and Mexico. His music compositions and arrangements have been performed in hundreds of churches, schools and universities across the U.S. and Canada. Martin also serves as Director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press where he oversees the editorial and creative direction of the company and coordinates recording and production aspects. Martin has composed hundreds of commissioned works, among them several patriotic anthems. The choir will be singing one of his most haunting patriotic songs, "Who Are the Brave." This song was chosen by President George Bush and was sung by the U.S. Air Force Band at the unveiling of the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, where the song was heard around the world. It was also presented at the 40{+t}{+h} anniversary commemoration of the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach, France, and was recently recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Martin says he finds inspiration everywhere, and has written music in hotel elevators, hotel rooms, at the top of Pike's Peak, and even wrote one of his best choral pieces on the back of an Arby's placemat while eating lunch.

"I love my work. It is always a joy, and I like getting in front of the people I am writing the music for. Composition is a lonely business at times, and as I write, I try to imagine how this might sound in a sanctuary or concert hall."

This is the fourth year Martin has worked with Evans at FUMC Spring Hill. When asked how Evans chooses the music for the concert, Evans says he selects music "that touches my heart." He says that for the choir to work with the composer and learn about his inspiration for a particular piece of music brings more meaning to the song.

"Joseph Martin is the leading composer in the country - he writes so practical for choirs, the voicing, the intervals and the accompaniments are written at a higher level than most composers."

"American Tapestry," his first solo piano recording, was nominated for a Dove Award, and his recordings, "Songs of the Journey," Celtic Tapestry," and "A Christmas Tapestry" have been popular as well. Many of his CDs and piano arrangements and compositions will be available for sale following the concert.

Evans has scheduled a three-hour workshop with Martin on Saturday morning to fine tune the numbers the choir has been learning the past few months. Martin says the workshop experience is a great learning tool.

"When you workshop a group of pieces, you get immediate feedback and I can experience the energy of the singers. That is a gift to the composer. I take that energy back to the drawing board for the next composition." Evans says that Martin inspires the choir. "It is good to have someone else critique the choir. They really rise to the challenge."

Tickets are not required. A free-will offering will be taken. The concert begins at 3 p.m., Sunday, February 14. Spring Hill United Methodist Church is located at 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. For more information, call the church office at 352 683-2600, or visit the Web site at To learn more about Joseph Martin visit

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