Opus 1306

Starfield (2018)

Three Meditations for Organ

  • Arcturus
  • Sigma Octantis
  • Polaris

Duration: 14 min.

Dedication: for Thomas Sheehan

Contact the composer regarding perusal or performance materials.

Starfield (2018), three meditations for organ, was written for Thomas Sheehan. Each movement is named for and inspired by a significant star in the night sky, and the music seeks to create distinctive sound images from the organ’s color palette.

Arcturus is the fourth-brightest star in the night sky. Its Greek name means “Guardian of the Bear.” While not programmatic, perhaps the guardian’s varied activities appear in the manual parts with some activity from “the bear” in the pedals.

Sigma Octantis is usually thought of as the “South Star,” since (although not especially bright) it serves as the southern hemisphere’s pole star. Its name comes from its position in the constellation Octans, which is named for the octant, a historical navigational instrument. “Navigation” inspired this movement, with a repeated-note theme of “zeroing” calibration surrounding music of a wilder sea voyage.

Polaris—perhaps the most famous of all stars—is the “North Star,” the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor. In ancient Hindu writings, it was even personified with the name Dhruva (“immovable, fixed.”) In the music, an immovable sounding pitch becomes recontextualized by the sounds around it.