Meditations, for solo organ (2019)

GieseckeOrgan.jpg
 

Duration: ca. 9’ total, broken up into three movements

Commissioned and performed by Dr. Steven Egler in 2019.

Composed Dec. ‘18 - Jan. ‘19. in Saginaw, Michigan.

A recording was not made at the premiere. The recording here was made at Staples Hall, Central Michigan University.

 

notes…

Meditations for solo organ was commissioned by Dr. Steven Egler to be performed on the Edmund Giesecke organ at First Presbyterian Church of Evansville, Indiana in May 2019. The organ was restored by the Evansville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists in Memory of Helen Skuggedal Reed (1948 - 2017) through Taylor and Boody Organbuilders in 2018.

The request was made to incorporate within the work hidden musical ciphers as an homage to the late Helen Reed. To that extent, the piece explores three tonal regions (B, Eb, and D) which represent her initials HSR (the German H, the German es, and the French ré). These tonalities span three movements and are unified throughout by a recurring motif that represents her first name, Helen. Her name is spelled out in the initial pitch class in the first movement with B, E, A, E, and any sharp (the German H, the English E, the French la, the English E, and the Spanish "sostenido" for "sharp"). This motif sets up a conflict between the perfect 4th intervals that form the first four letters of her name and the dissonance produced by any sharp that completes her name.

The first movement ("Awakening") begins with the stark and austere intervals of Helen's initials (HSR). As the H-E-L-E-N motif is presented next, the music begins to blossom and become aware of its potential. This movement is a meditation on awakening to our assigned identities in life. It reveals the beauty that results from pushing against our identities, in which we may often feel trapped and constrained.

The second movement ("Dance") takes an expansive seven-note variation on the H-E-L-E-N motif that was hinted at in measure 22 of the first movement and dances upon that motif and rhythm until it is no longer recognizable. This is a meditation on the spontaneous truth that can result from freeing ourselves from our own identities.

The third and final movement ("Transcendence") confronts this identity motif through a series of highly dissonant and melodic variations. This is a meditation upon conflict and dissonance and the peacefulness that may result when we confront and transcend these.