Hello and welcome to Muse Echo blogs where I write about my compositions, the creative process, what I was thinking, what inspired me and so on.
In this post, I reflect upon composing for pipe organ, to whom it may concern or interest....
To date, I've composed 5 works for pipe organ. One of which is for just solo pipe organ, one is for pipe organ and double bass, the other 3 for pipe organ and oboe.
I've always loved the pipe organ and have been hearing it all my life...even before birth. I especially love to play oboe with pipe organ which is something I began to do as a young teenager. My father is a huge theater organ buff, and I share is adoration of that too.
The first work I composed for pipe organ was for pipe organ and double bass:
This is a very intense work in a few movements, all very dark. One movement is a fugue. ( ILOVE fugues SO much.) Bassist, Eliot Wadopian, www.eliotwadopian.com performed it with pipe organist, Dr. Vance Reese at the All Soul's Cathedral, in Asheville, N.C.. I have a recording of it somewhere. You have to love deep and dark to love this work. The bass sounds like the organ is bleeding and sometimes it sounds like all hope is lost. Perhaps later in life I'll edit it or use material from it for another piece. One melody in particular is still, I think, the loveliest I've ever composed, and possibly ever will. I think I'll go back and check it out some Winter's evening...see what I think of it now!
2nd work with pipe organ: Celestial Light Ringing: 2007 for oboe and pipe organ
This was a commission from St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Asheville, N.C. for the Christmas Eve service in 2007. My friend, Dr. Vance Reese (a lovely person and musician) was the music director at the time.
I composed it in such a way that the duration of the work could vary significantly for practical purposes. It had sustained tones and clusters in which the organist had an envelope of time to choose for ts duration which depicted celestial light. I was thinking about how during the time Christ was born, there were conjunctions in the sky. The sky was said to be ringing. I wonder if what was heard was the music of the spheres during this event. The ringing sounds I composed were influenced by an esoteric meditation practice called "Shagall" in which one can hear celestial music of the spheres.
We played it again in a recorded performance at All Soul's Cathedral. During that performance we performed it with the longest possible time allowance which I would change at this point to shorter, like we did for the Christmas Eve service. In hindsight, I see how this piece was the precursor for Meditations. See below.
Also, I composed a recitative like section for the oboe in this work, and in hindsight, I now realize how that was a precursor for the recitative like section I used for the clarinet part in the 2nd Wind Quintet in Stage IX of IX Stages of Purification. Hmmm
3nd Pipe organ piece: Tongues of Fire, 2008 for oboe and pipe organ
Again, this was a commissioned work from St. Mark's Lutheran church via my friend Dr. Reese.
This commission had clear guidelines: Had to be about 5 minutes, and composed as a prelude to prepare the hearts of the congregation for the Pentecost Service coinciding with Confirmation Sunday.
I have a recording of a later performance with Dr. Reese at All Souls Cathedral if anyone interested in commissioning me to compose for pipe organ, would like to hear it.
4th work for pipe organ is for solo pipe organ, Meditation, 2013.
I composed this work for my dear friend Gideon Meir as a gift for his 50th birthday, which he received for his 51st birthday and premiered in Paris, on my 50th birthday! HA
I worked on this piece for YEARS. He received the umpteenth revision. Only the best for Gidi. I liberated my most demanding self for this. I allowed myself a lot of pressure and maintaining high standards. I agonized over all the details and in the end, I am very happy with this work. I may orchestrate it someday.
This work is designed to take the organist and listeners on a journey through darkness into light. (Unlike my Lamentations which is all dark!) I composed this work just as much for my own medicine as for my friend as a gift. I wanted him to experience the musical medicine too. I was careful about balance of growing sustained clusters and rhythmic effervescent movement. I hope Gideon will perform it again in the future. It was so important and helpful for us to reconnect in person as people and as musicians working on this work and the 5th work with pipe organ.
Personally, I think that Meditations for pipe organ is by far my strongest work so far to date. The one professional musician who knows my body of musical work best said that she thinks my musical voice is best suited for the pipe organ. I think it's best for pipe organ and oboe together and I suspect, pipe organ, oboe and choir together.
The last and 5th work I've composed, so far, for pipe organ is for oboe and pipe organ:
A Pearl in Wine, 2015. This work is in honor and memory of Lois Wann. Gideon Meir and I premiered the 3rd movement of this work on March 7, 2015 in Paris, France together. A gentle movement in 3/4 meter. I finished some movements in 2014, a couple in 2015 and we needed more time to get it performance ready to perform it all. Hopefully down the road, Gidi and I will reunite again and perform the whole thing. I feel the need to perform the entire work before deciding what to do with it after that. Scrap it, revise it, orchestrate, publish it .....? For now, it's shelved and in the future, I will read it and listen to it with fresh ears. I had worked on the piece on and off for several years. I'd work on it then get interrupted with another work, return to the piece much later in a new and stronger place as a composer and start over again! This happened a few times. HA. Since it's in honor of Lois Wann, again, I allowed my standards to be high and to be demanding with myself.
I've learned that's how I prefer to be, very slow and demanding with high standards - but focused on the piece, not letting it get shelved and interrupted repeatedly.
Thank you for your interest. To the muse!