In light of the recent passing of one of my musical heroes, Penderecki, I just wanted to share an early composition of mine which was highly inspired by his music. It’s a piece for Orchestra, Three Sopranos, and Child Narrator called “In the Ellipsis of Beauty”. It was premiered at Butler University in 1998 when I was pursuing my Masters in Composition.
In my early days of composing, I wasn’t sure, like so many young composers, what my compositional ‘voice’ was. I was definitely interested in avant garde music, having listened to much of it in many styles, but, even back then, I could never move totally away from traditional melodic and harmonic principles. Penderecki himself moved from avant garde to a more Neo-Romantic, Expressionist style. This was due to the fact that he felt much of his earlier atonal music had been, to use his words, “more destructive than constructive.” He had moved on from this style for both political and artistic reasons, from the latter believing that this type of experimentation had run its course. Moreover, he said that he needed a ‘language’ that would be able express particularly in longer works, for which he felt, atonality and tone cluster, sound mass music would be ultimately limited in this regard.
That said, this piece is about beauty, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes.
Olivier Messiaen once said (and I am paraphrasing) “In the same way in which a stained-glass window dazzles the eye, so do I desire my music to dazzle the ear." The inspiration for this work was imagining a “journey” through a stained-glass window; not through it, but within it. In other words, seeing and experiencing the different colors, hues, and shades...finding beauty simply in the essence of the window, its colors (which are represented by the various sounds heard). After the dissonance and atonality, the sopranos enter wordlessly, bringing with their melodic echoes, a “light,” which I imagined as permeating through the window, indicating something of the beyond.
The poem which the little girl narrator recites was a collaboration written by my brother Deacon Charlie Echeverry and myself, and it is both a plea to and a questioning of Beauty personified. Beauty is a transcendental element suggesting a mysterious source. To me this source is God.
The work is written on a grid-like score with specially made symbols for the players. The orchestra at times acts as a hidden choir with vocal vowels and effects which enter and exit subtly throughout. The soprano parts and some of the orchestral parts call for specific notes which are noted in traditional notation.
An ellipsis is a set of three dots
( . . . ) indicating the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues.
This work signifies an aural "ellipsis" within what we, subjectively, may call beauty. While it’s not a ‘perfect’ performance, it does hopefully give the idea of what I was after. Below is the text.
TEXT by Charlie Echeverry and Angelus O.F. Echeverry
"In the Ellipsis of Beauty"
Let me be there to see you when you first wake
As the sun breaks over the mountain and the first bird sings
Let me stand with you when a child is shown
the glow of a distant star
or the rush of a crystalline waterfall
Let me hold you as I run through a flowery field
Let me feel you with the soft drops of rain
that fall from the sky
Be illuminated by you as the moon lights my path
Let me touch you when the warmth of love
for a pretty view sweeps over me
Let me understand you when light turns into night
And the world closes its eyes…
What are you? Are you a stained-glass window?
Or a transparent rainbow?
Where are you? Are you hiding, left to be found?
Can I find you if I try?
Why do you exist?
To teach me lessons? Or give me answers?
To bring me a smile?
Am I the instrument and you the music?
Or are you the instrument and I the music?
Let me believe you
Let me hope you
Let me trust you
Let me need you
Beauty, let me.
Vatican Composers Competition
I am happy to announce that I have just submitted a work for consideration to the Francesco Siciliani Prize - Fourth Edition. This is a composers competition put on through the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture every two years. This year they called for a setting of the Gloria in Latin for choir unaccompanied or with organ. I completed this new piece, which will be the second movement of my Missa Somnii Divini (The Mass of the Divine Dream) a few days ago. It is with organ and its duration is about 14 minutes. I look forward to sharing it with you all someday, should the opportunity arise to perform and record it.
unSUNg 'on hold' until summer 2019
The summer concert series unSUNg of which I have been fortunate enough to take part in 3 of its first 5 years will be on hold this summer as the organizers re-imagine the series, select a new venue, and resume the concerts in 2019. The reason for all this, according to the founders is that the event is growing, and to use their words, 'this is a good thing.' If you have not had the pleasure of attending these concerts which champion 'Songs Uncommon and New" the "S.U.N." of the title unSUNg, you should consider supporting all the wonderful local composers and talented performers who gather yearly for this very special event. For more info, please visit: unSUNg
"NEW RECORDING" TAKING PLACE SOMETIME IN JUNE 2018
This June, alongside a dear friend, Brian Humphrey, a seminarian for Los Angeles Archdiocese, and soon to be ordained Transitional Deacon, I hope to record The Mass of the Uncreated Light. This is a liturgical mass inspired by the chants of the Christian East and West. The mass is for optional two-part equal voices, with or without organ accompaniment. The mass is really, two masses in one, as it is composed in both English and Latin. Brian who was a professional recording engineer in his former life, recording so many fantastic artists ranging from the symphony orchestras to Van Halen, has a keen ear and patient and encouraging disposition with those he serves in this capacity, which he continues to do, out of the goodness of his heart, in order to give back to the world. Once the Mass is recorded, the engraved Score will be made available for purchase as well as the music, all through digital download, here.
NEW, INCIDENTAL MUSIC
"The Perichoresis Waltz"
St. John of Damascus, an eighth century Father, described "Perichoresis" this way:
The subsistences [persons of the Holy Trinity] dwell and are established firmly [perichoresis] in one another. For they are inseparable and cannot part from one another, but keep to their separate courses within one another, without coalescing or mingling, but cleaving to each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit: and the Spirit in the Father and the Son: and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, but there is no coalescence or commingling or confusion. And there is one and the same motion: for there is one impulse and one motion of the three subsistences, which is not to be observed in any created nature.
This melody I had composed about 20 years ago. It lay dormant until I recently found the sketches and thought to orchestrate it simply as a compositional/orchestration exercise. Originally intended as a tune to express romantic love, as I worked on it today as a monk, the thought of the 'dance of love' that is perichoresis came to my mind, and so I chose to entitle the piece: "The Perichoresis Waltz," in thanksgiving to the One God in Three Persons -- the love of my life.
I hope you will enjoy it.
Click on the link below to go to the music page, then scroll down.
FIRST YOUTUBE VIDEO IS UP.....
Hopefully, more to come in the near future. Thank you for listening. Feel free to share this video and this website in your social media.
"O Sacrum Convivium" for Mixed Choir, A Cappella
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Video is available in the Music page as well.