Happy New Year! It has been an exciting time as things are gearing up for an exciting summer. The Kansas City AGO 2018 Convention sent out a very kind promotion to a piece of mine that will be premiered, Sonata No. 1. It has been a long time coming and it is very, very exciting.
On a note about the blog, I have wanted to post something for some time but due to a mix of Christmas, family, and some issues with the organ, I have not been unhappy with the handful of recordings I have made. Well, after the KC Newsletter, I wanted to post something and I took a look at the recordings I had and I found this gem.
Back in November, I went to St. Paul Cathedral to make a recording of more experimental improvisations, but it was not a very satisfying session. Or at least that is what I thought at the time. While reviewing the recording I came upon this terrifying improv. St. Paul Cathedral has a magnificent von Beckerath organ, one that reminds me of the organ I played my undergrad days. Really, both are German neo-Baroque trackers which allow for certain kinds of exploitation. When I re-listened to the improv, I recalled the difficulty in moving my fingers slowly off the keys to create the desired effect. The cromorne had particularly interesting sonorities when using this technique was applied.
As with any avant-garde composition or improvisation, I tried to ground it with some simple elements. It is essentially a binary form, with a heavy emphasis on the lowest C pitch. It is a balance; when there are highly strange elements present, simplicity is certainly needed. And lastly, that middle section makes me think of this sound, whether or not it was intentional at the time.