As a Chalice
Description: Chorale prelude on the hymn tune Inward Light.
Christ ist erstanden
Dance Procession on Simple Gifts
Description: Written for a celebration service with dancers in procession, this work starts quietly and builds to full organ. I think I had Ravel’s Bolero in mind when I wrote this. It can be easily extended and, while it might stand on its own in a concert setting, a visual collaboration works very well.
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Duration: 4 minutes
Description: Chorale prelude on Houston. The left hand provides accompaniment (the eighth-note figuration versus the sustained notes in the same hand is annoying to learn, but fits the hand pretty well; just when it’s going well, the eighth notes move from below the sustained notes to above! I had a little talk with myself about that…). The pedal should not use any 16′ (think cello or bassoon). It actually makes a duet with the right-hand melody for much of the piece.
Meditation on Were You There
Partita on Jesus Loves Me
Duration: 2’40” (3’45” with optional DS)
Description: A simple, improvisatory variation on this familiar tune. I commented on the piece here.
Passacaglia on Spirit
Description: This work was written for a service where we were scheduled to sing James Manley’s folk hymn Spirit. We wanted the congregation to at least have the tune in the back of their minds…thus this piece, which served as Prelude (It’s a good choice for Pentecost).
An 8-measure bass pattern based on the tune–reminiscent of the start of Pachelbel’s Canon, is treated in typical Baroque passacaglia fashion (including a section where the bass isn’t actually in the bass, but the chord progression continues anyway). Medium difficulty; builds to a big conclusion.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Quodlibet on Olivet and Battle Hymn
Description: I recently played a memorial service, where I was asked to play My Faith Looks Up To Thee (Olivet) and Battle Hymn of the Republic (Battle Hymn). I didn’t want to just play one hymn, then the other (with at least one verse of the former played on the chimes, per the widow’s request–looking back toward the couple’s wedding decades before), although a nice buildup would have been possible, moving from Olivet‘s reflective character to the more robust Battle Hymn. I was in a compositional mood, having completed my Kumbaya variations earlier in the day, so I sat down at the computer to play–and found some interesting ways to combine the two tunes. Each appears by itself (although Battle Hymn‘s main appearance is softly accompanied by Olivet).
Following a quiet opening presentation of Olivet, with the melody on chimes, a transition on Olivet increases in volume to the second section, where both tunes are present. An excerpt of Battle Hymn starts in the manuals, against Olivet in the pedal. The tunes reverse locations, with the section closing with a transition similar to the one ending the previous section, except that the material is drawn from Battle Hymn.
The third section is more reflective, with a complete statement of Battle Hymn in the left hand, and an accompaniment based on Olivet in the right hand. A brief closing statement of Olivet is followed by the first section transition into closing material from the refrain of Battle Hymn.
While I consider this work to be more functional than some of my other pieces–written for a specific memorial service to meet specific needs–it may well have broader appeal. There is almost no variation of the tunes; harmonies stick pretty close to familiar versions of the hymns; the combination of the two hymns works very well–it doesn’t require a great deal of focus to hear the two tunes as they play off each other. Listeners who didn’t know the history of the combination liked the work. If I don’t have it posted on my web site, be sure to ask me for it.
Reflections for Organ
Description: Lurking in the background, but never fully stated, is “How Great Thou Art.” The “for Organ” part of the title is there because I earlier wrote a similar reflection for piano (although they are actually two totally separate pieces). The left hand and pedal provide accompaniment. If you have three manuals, the right hand can alternate between louder and softer solo sounds. With only two manuals, the accompaniment manual provides the softer sound.
Reflection on Ashgrove
Duration: 4 minutes
Description: A continuous variation set on this familiar tune.
Variation on Immortal, Invisible
Variations on Kumbaya
Description: Our children’s choir, supported by the chancel choir, was scheduled to sing an arrangement of Kumbaya by composer Teresa Jennings. It’s a nice arrangement, with a gently swinging African-inspired accompaniment. Although the musical material of my piece makes no mention of Ms Jennings piece, it was the inspiration for my variations.
Like Teresa’s piece, mine has repetitive elements that pay homage to Africa. The pedal part, which I had intended to be easy, only uses five pitches, and repeats every measure, with slight changes to fit the harmonic flow. The melody unfolds at a slow pace, taking twice as long as one might at first expect. That said, this is a lively piece with a strong buildup. I’ve played it on both a two- and a four-manual organ: it adapted easily to both, and was exciting to play on both.
The theme is never simply stated, although it is pretty clear, if you know the tune, that it forms the foundation. Each of the three statements varies both the melody on a macro level and also previous accompanying figures on a micro level. While strong pedal technique is not required, a strong rhythmic feel is; some ability for independent movement of the feet is very helpful. Overall difficulty level is medium.