Cathedrals is a fantasy on Gabrieli’s Canzon Primi Toni from the Sacrae Symphoniae, which dates from 1597. Written for St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, the canzon is transcribed for two brass choirs, each comprised of two trumpets and two trombones. The choirs were stationed in opposite balconies of the church according to the antiphonal principal of cori spezzati (It. ‘broken choirs’), which forms the basis of much of Gabrieli’s writing.
Cathedrals is an adventure in ‘neo-renaissance’ music, in its seating arrangement, antiphonal qualities, 16th century counterpoint, and canonic textures. Its form is structured on the golden ratio (1:.618), which is commonly found not only in nature and art, but also in the motets and masses of Renaissance composers such as Palestrina and Lassus. The areas surrounding the golden section and its series of extrapolated subdivisions have audible characteristics, often evidenced by cadences, changes in texture, or juxtaposition of ideas. The work is a synthesis of the old and the new, evoking the mystery and allure of Gabrieli’s spatial music, intertwined with the rich color palette, modal harmonies, and textures of woodwinds and percussion.
Movement for Rosa
Music professor, composer and conductor Mark Camphouse wrote A Movement for Rosa in 1992 to honor civil rights heroine Rosa Parks. This tone poem contains three contrasting sections. The first evokes Rosa’s early years, from her 1913 birth in Tuskegee, Alabama, through her marriage in 1932 to Raymond Parks. Section II portrays the years of racial strife in Montgomery and the quest for social equality. The final section is one of quiet strength and serenity, yet its final dissonant measures serve as an ominous reminder of racism’s lingering presence in modern American society.
On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss
Horatio G. Spafford, a Chicago Presbyterian layman and successful businessman, planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship was struck and sank. Only his wife survived. Shortly afterward Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief, “When sorrows like sea