Encouraging a reflective spirit this Advent and Christmas Season, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity offer a podcast of Minnesota musician Nick Kiekenapp’s Silent Night.
Artistic guitar sounds are complimented with beautiful stained glass windows from Sacred Heart, Reedsburg, WI; St Helena, Minneapolis, MN; Nativity Parish, St Paul, MN; Franciscan Sister Victoria Masil’s painting from Holy Family Convent Motherhouse, Manitowoc, WI; St. Mary, Appleton, WI; Holy Cross, Kaukauna, WI; Holy Spirit, Kimberly, WI; St. Mary Menomonee Falls, WI; Sacred Heart, Sherwood, WI; Nativity Parish, Cudahy, WI; St. Paul, Combined Locks, WI; St. Mark , St. Paul, MN; St. Gabriel, Neenah, WI; St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, La Crosse, WI and O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.
The beauty and simplicity of ‘Silent Night’ inspired my arrangement of the song. In my version I attempt to create a meditative atmosphere with layered guitars and an improvised section in the middle while still keeping true to the simple melody and harmony. The imagery of the text now is imagined in the melody and the echoes of the guitar. These sounds reference the styles of avant-garde guitarists Nels Cline and Bill Frisell whose modern influences have revolutionized instrumental guitar.
I also wanted to reference the original version of the song due to its close relationship to the guitar. As the legend goes, the organ at a small Austrian church broke down before Christmas Mass, inspiring the text. Later, the text was set to guitar accompaniment by Franz Gruber in acknowledgement of the “silent” Christmas Eve Mass a few years prior.
Please enjoy my recording of ‘Silent Night.’ I hope it touches your lives the way it does mine during the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!
About Nick Kiekenapp
Guitarist, Author and Jazz Historian, Nick Kiekenapp performs regularly with several Twin Cities based groups. In addition to fronting the Nick Kiekenapp Quartet, Nick can be seen playing with the Funk cover band Space Exploders, the Country group Los Coyotes and The Andrew Walesch Big Band. Nick has also performed with the Mill City Hot Club, Sixties Pop icon Booby Vee and Max Weinberg.
A graduate of the University of St. Thomas music program, Nick is currently writing method book aimed at teaching young guitarists how to play Jazz by learning from transcribed solos of early Jazz legends. Nick can be reached via email at kiek1918 at gmail.com.