Robinson McClellan ~ composer
ABOUT<- - ->COMPOSITIONS<- - ->ORDER<- - ->NEWS / IDEAS<- - ->CONTACT
ORGAN MASS (2005)
Commissioned and premiered by Carson Cooman.
Not many settings of the Roman Mass have been written for organ since the 18th century; before that, they were most often short versets, based on plainchant, which sometimes replaced sung verses of the mass. Since an instrumental setting does not explicitly use the text, I was able to reference the texts only in a general way: the mood of each movement corresponds loosely to one concept from each of the five main texts of the mass ordinary: Kyrie = “Mercy,” Gloria = “Glory,” Credo = “Believing,” Sanctus/Benedictus = “Hosanna,” and Agnus Dei = “Peace.”
Musically, the piece borrows an early 18th-century piobaireachd (or ‘pibroch’—the ceremonial music of the Gaelic clans in Scotland) known as The Fingerlock. A portion of the original melodic theme stands out prominently in the first movement against a drone. The other four movements are also variations on the underlying pitch structure of the original tune (pibrochs are structured around a repeating pitch sequence): B-B-B-B, A-B-A-A, B-B-A-A, G-G-G-G. The second melody heard in the final movement — ‘Peace’ — may sound familiar, though it is the first time it has been heard in the piece: it is a well-known lullaby about feeling peaceful.