Program Note for Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (1994)


Unlike traditional concerti where one individual instrument is pitted against the orchestra, this work reflects the inherent conflict between two equally large, but often independent, musical forces: the organ and the orchestra.  Traditionally, the organ and orchestra have often remained in separate worlds - the sacred and the secular.  The organ, capable of playing a wide variety of color and textures is, in essence, its own orchestra.  Furthermore, its sound is not specifically focused like a soloist in a traditional concerto (e.g. Violin, Piano).  With this in mind, I envisioned a concerto where the organ and orchestra vie for musical material and rarely coalesce.

After a slow introduction, where the organ is "brought to life", a series of episodes (Playful; Restless; Turbulent) allows the organ take on soloists from the orchestra and respond to their actions.  In each case, the organ outplays the challengers and grows to counter the larger orchestral group.  In the last episode, the orchestra is no match for the sheer volume and virtuosity of the organ.  After a cadenza, the organ and orchestra meet through the musical representation of two composers, BACH and CAGE, respectively.   The last soloist, the violin, then enters before a dark and solemn procession in which the orchestra finally plays the organ's principal theme.  The orchestra soon regains its strength and both forces furiously race to the end.