Robinson McClellan ~ composer



for organ
Duration ca. 15 minutes

Commissioned and premiered by Carson Cooman.
The following performance is by Alistair Nelson, from a March 30, 2007 concert of early Gaelic bagpipe music at Yale

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I. Mercy

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(excluded: 'Glory', the second movement)

III. Believing
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IV. Hosanna
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V. Peace
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About the piece

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.




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