Inspired by the current global actualities, I wrote a small piece for organ.
Unifying Appeal is characterized the juxtaposition of stern rhythms, organic melodies and lively signals. This material is inspired by the national hymns of Ukraine and Russia. The population of both countries are suffering. And the efforts of both peoples are needed to bring about peace.
Performed on 6 March 2022 by the composer on the organ (Pels) of the Petrus Donderskerk.
Inspired by the Christmas Holidays, I wrote a new piece for organ.
This small work for solo organ, Renewing Resolutions, is dedicated to organist and pianist Jelena Bazova. She is a great musician who taught me a great deal over the course of my six-year apprenticeship with her. Although she is no longer officially my teacher, her voice and ideas are still reflected in my thoughts.
Renewing Resolutions is thematically inspired by New Year and generally features three ideas. The first is the idea of a vow: a kind of promise is taken, possibly religiously, either for one self or for one other. The second is the idea of doubt: there is a critical reaction on the vow, either by yourself or other people. The third is the idea of fracturing: the vow violently shatters under the influence of doubt and criticism. The interaction and evolution of these three ideas result in a story, appropriately called Renewing Resolutions.
Ideally, this piece is to be played on an organ with at least two manuals and pedals. A swell is preferred, but not necessary. A voix céleste or tremulant stop is preferred to aid in characterizing the celestial sections, but reed stops are absolutely necessary to bring out the character of criticism. The pedal needs a bourdon 16’ or something similar and can be coupled to (one of the) manuals.
Written for organ and soprano. Commissioned for Ruud Huijbregts.
Bright Lights is inspired by the story of St. Catherine of Alexandria, who as chaste and devoted young Christian woman was persecuted and put to death under the reign of Roman emperor Maxentius (306-312). She was exposed to numerous horrors, including imprisonment, starvation and torture. Remarkably, when sentenced to death by a spiked breaking wheel, the awful device shattered upon her touch. As last resort, she was to be beheaded. Upon execution, a milk-like substance flowed from her neck. St. Catherine is remember as a martyr ever since.
Sharp contrasts characterize Bright Lights. Transitoriness is put against the everlasting, conflict against peace, grief against joy. The incredible main organ of the St. Cathirine church is the perfect medium to express all these extremities to the fullest. After a quiet, heavenly and innocent start, conflict kicks in. Constantly interrupted by mourning but hopeful episodes, Catherine witnesses the various horrors. After her decapitation, a bright musical light appears, whereafter the music calms down, as if starting from the beginning again. A voice from high and far appears, bringing a short but glorious message about Catherine. The apotheosis is completed.
In the period that I was engaged with a choir in my hometown, playing the piano and organ in religious services, I was inspired to write a piece for organ, because I was fascinated with the instrument’s possibilities. A tone can last as long as you want to, and combined with a colouring/registration of your own choosing, I was enchanted completely.
In this piece, I work with expanding and contracting time. The changing meters throughout the piece make this clear: the number of beats in each ‘bar’ gradually diminish, increase and fluctuate. I wanted the music to have something illogical and unpredictable, like the breathing of something living, be it an living animal or something more abstract like a forest or ocean. This piece consists of two big breathing cycles, with in between smaller cycle of fluctuating time. Not only the harmonies accelerate and slow down: the pulse in the pedal follows the expanding and contracting of harmonic time virtually parallelly. The slow stable walking of the melody in the third layer and is a constant reference point for the other two elements.