Water Music (2000)
- The Water Changed Into Blood (for John Dixon)
- Poured Out Like Water (for Joe Utterback)
- Beside Springs of Water (for Bea Benedict)
- Clean Water (for Sandra Gay)
- Walked on Water (for Heather Hutton)
- Of Water and the Spirit (in memory of Phyllis Stevenson)
- Water of Life (for Emily Maxson Porter)
Duration: 21 min.
Commission: Commissioned by the Broeker Fund for New Music, the Council for the Support of New Church Music, Raynard Brown, and Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Burch
Publisher: Lauren Keiser Music Publishing
Performance materials available from the publisher.
Water Music (2000) for organ was commissioned by a consortium consisting of the Broeker Fund for New Music, the Council for the Support of New Church Music, Raynard Brown, and Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Burch. The goal behind the commission was to create a large organ work which could be used both as a recital piece and as service music (either in its entirety or with individual movements used as service voluntaries.)
The seven movements of the work are tied together by their unifying subject material. Each movement is prefaced by a quote from the Bible dealing with the subject of water. Musically, the seven movements of the work are unified by the consistent presence of the interval of a perfect fifth. This pervades the harmonic relationships throughout all seven movements.
I. The Water Changed Into Blood (for John Dixon)
This movement opens with long, held chords. After some figurations in the manuals, a march emerges (based on the opening theme) which leads into the long, held chords again. The Dies Irae tune makes fleeting appearances.
II. Poured Out Like Water (for Joe Utterback)
This movement is cast in a modified rondo form. The opening material is reminiscent of water being outpoured. Melodies over the top of held chords emerge but the pouring continues to return. In this movement, the perfect fifth has been transformed to its homologue (a reversal of the order of the notes)—the perfect fourth.
III. Beside Springs of Water (for Bea Benedict)
This movement is a gentle pastorale with lilting melody presented over an ostinato. A canonic middle section interrupts and leads to a return of the opening pastorale,
IV. Clean Water (for Sandra Gay)
This movement is a quiet, minimalist toccata. A melody is presented in the pedals underneath figurations in the manuals reminiscent of droplets of water. A middle section which uses the pedal in dual voices brings back a return of the beginning material.
V. Walked on the Water (for Heather Hutton)
This movement begins with a decisive, syncopated theme which is the basis for the entire movement. A contemplative middle section based on this theme leads to the decisive treatment again.
VI. Of Water and the Spirit (in memory of Phyllis Stevenson)
This movement symbolizes the rebirth through water and the spirit (the dying away of the old self and coming of the new). A held chord in the right hand symbolizes humanity. At the beginning, it is dissonant (containing the most dissonant interval of a tritone). Throughout the movement, the left hand presents chord figurations based on perfect triads. This symbolizes the model which Christ has set for us. Throughout, the pedal makes commentary with hymn quotations. Slowly, the human self (right hand) begins to change—one note at a time—moving towards the ideal until finally the perfect triad is achieved.
VII. Water of Life (for Emily Maxson Porter)
This movement opens with an energetic, asymmetrical toccata. Suddenly, a slower middle section emerges which quotes and combines material from the previous six movements—finally combining them with the toccata figurations. A build-up leads to the toccata material again which presses on to the grand conclusion.