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American Guild of Organists: World Premiere (COMP)
June 24, 2015 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
“Commissioned by The Organ Artists Series of Pittsburgh, God Who Blesses Us, traces its origins to the story of the Pentecost. With my own background being steeped in Judaism, I found it intriguing to explore the significance of the moment when the Holy Spirit was received by the apostles of Jesus who were, at that moment, observing the Jewish Festival of Shavuot. Ultimately, I decided to draw from the text of Psalm 67 (traditionally chanted during Shavuot) and the depiction of the actual happening as recounted in the Book of Joel. These writings became the basis for an Anthem, which leads into a musical interpretation of the receiving of the Pentecost, followed by a celebratory Toccata and coda. While the Anthem is sung in English, a setting of declamation of a phrase from the original Hebrew (67:3) is used as a basis for themes throughout the work:
“Yoducha amim Elohim; Yoducha amim kulam”
(Let the people praise you, God; Let all the people praise you!)
The Anthem and the Toccata may each be performed separately from the larger work; the Toccata was created with the intention of it serving specifically as an appropriate postlude in religious services.”
The commission was originally just for an organ postlude that could be based on the subject of the Pentecost but I felt inclined to create a larger work for soprano, tenor, chorus and organ (11:00) with two optional movements (Anthem; The Receiving) that lead into the final movement (Toccata). One of the intriguing parameters for me in writing the work was that the postlude would actually be premiered first on Sunday, June 21, in multiple locations at the same time: church organists all over Pittsburgh will be performing the Toccata as their postlude to services. All three movements will receive their premiere, as a set, during an evensong service on June 24 at Calvary Episcopal Church (5:30 pm).