Pastorale, for solo organ (2018)
Duration: ca. 7’
Composed during the summer of 2018 in Saginaw, Michigan.
Recorded at Staples Hall, Central Michigan University.
Pictured above: the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw.
I composed Pastorale over the summer of 2018, and it was my first composition that I had written for the organ. Having just moved to the Tri-Cities region of Michigan to begin as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Saginaw, I was particularly inspired by the beauty of the surrounding fields and pastures that make up so much of the area. I found myself living in the world of George Butterworth, Archibald James Potter, Frederick Delius, Patrick Hawes, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and other great British composers who had so expressively captured the pastoral nature of their landscape. While all of this informed my writing, the piece is only loosely programmatic and is really more of an absolute work. It follows much of the same musical parameters that can be expected of a pastorale: in compound meter, with an emphasis on repeated bass patterns or drone notes. It is slower in tempo than most pastorales, but only to the extent that it explores rhythmic expansiveness. Strong beats are often separated by vast space while intervening rhythmic activity is sometimes augmented and other times diminished. This collision of rhythmic macrocosm and microcosm perhaps best evokes the visual of a field from afar, whereby both the infinite individual blades of grass and the broader sweeping colors they produce exist in harmonious unity.