I’ve recently reissued Organ Works Volumes II – IV. Naturally, in the process of reissuing these albums I revisited the compositions featured on them – including works I had not returned to in a long time. In this newsletter I’ll provide some background on this process, as well as on some of the compositions featured on these albums.
First, a little about the reissues:
The reissues of Organ Works Volumes II – IV are now available on Amazon Music and Spotify. I’m still working on the PDF booklets for the Bandcamp releases of these albums. The Bandcamp versions should be released sometime this week.
As I did with the 2022 reissue of Organ Works (Volume I), I’ve designed new artwork for these reissues.
Along with my electronic works, organ music makes up the bulk of my compositional catalog. This reflects two aspects of my musical work. Electronic music is to me what orchestral or chamber music is to many other composers. I consider my digital audio workstation to be my orchestra. I also work as an organist. It’s my primary instrument, so it’s natural that I would compose music for it.
Aside from Five Voluntaries – a work composed in early autumn, 2020, for Carson Cooman – most of my organ compositions to this point have been of of short-medium duration.
While some of the shorter works have been called “character pieces,” more than a few of these short-medium duration works (such as Nightmare Materials I and Meditation on a Masonic Tapestry) defy the common conception of a “character piece.”
Many of my organ works – particularly the early ones – are/were rather lyrical and emotional in character, and were often inspired by my feelings about things that were happening in my life – as opposed to my feelings about things in the wider world. This was a unique, rather self-contained period of my compositional work. Pretty much all the music I composed during this time had similar characteristics and similar sources of inspiration.
One very characteristic pieces from this time is Thirty-Four (Song without Words), a work I composed the day before my thirty-fifth birthday. This is very much music of heartbreak and disillusionment.
(Thirty-Four (Song without Words) appears on Organ Works (Volume I))
One of the most difficult pieces to revisit was an unusual short organ work composed in early December, 2020, entitled December 1st (Dreamscape). As I write in the new liner notes for Organ Works (Volume II), while I have since composed quite a lot of organ music that might be considered to be rather eerie-sounding, in many ways I consider December 1st (Dreamscape) to be my “darkest” organ work – something which might surprise those who have heard my more recent organ compositions. This “darkness” is due not just to the rather surreal, stream-of-consciousness music, but to the memories associated with the time of the piece’s composition – among other things.
Only recently – over two years after having composed it – did I feel comfortable enough to review the score and listen to the following recording. Prior to this, reviewing the score or listening to the recording were too distressing. However, by the beginning of this year enough time had passed that not only did I feel comfortable revisiting the score, but – thus listening with perspective and distance – was I able to more greatly appreciate the qualities of the score.
The reissues also include some liturgical works, particularly Postlude (for the Feast of Christ the King) – the earliest of my compositions in my catalog. I composed this piece during my first semester as an undergraduate composition student.
A more recently composed liturgical work is A Short Offertory, composed in late July, 2021.
(Both Postlude (for the Feast of Christ the King) and A Short Offertory appear on the new reissue of Organ Works (Volume II)).
A few other works from the new reissues that I’d like to share with you include:
- Three Modal Preludes – Composed in autumn, 2020. As the title indicates, these preludes are modal and thus have a rather liturgical character.
- Three Diapason Miniatures – Composed January, 2021. Three short (manuals-only) meditative organ works of a melancholy and rather mysterious character.
- In Idle Days, Long Ago – Composed April, 2021. A musical reflection on the everlasting sunset that is the memory of the good and simpler days of one’s life; particularly in one’s youth, when each day seemed to bring promises of good, rather than the harsh guarantees of reality.
- Daydreaming – Composed September, 2021. This is a very special work to me, for many reasons. It’s also a rather unusual composition for organ, insofar as it calls for the use of a percussion stop (in this instance, a Harp stop) for the entire duration of the piece.
- “The harvest is past, the summer is ended…” – Composed in September, 2022. The title is borrowed from a lamentation found in the Book of Jeremiah (8:20). While this piece was inspired by circumstances in my life, it demonstrates many of the characteristics of my more recent compositions. It’s technically polished without being sentimental. This enhances the music’s drama and its tragic quality.
As I mentioned previously, electronic music and organ music represent the majority of my catalog. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that I should combine them in electroacoustic works. The most recent such composition was, of course, An Apostle Remembers the Emperor in a Dream.
I’m presently working on several new electroacoustic organ works. More about those at another time!
I hope this newsletter will not only promote some interest in these newly reissued albums, but will also serve as a helpful introduction to my organ works for those who aren’t familiar with them. For those who are familiar with these works, I hope this revisiting of these scores has been enjoyable.
I’ll send out a special edition newsletter with the official Bandcamp releases of the 2023 reissues of Organ Works (Volumes II – IV) sometime soon. I hope you’ll check out these new reissues!
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