Concerto for Hammond Organ
2[1.2/pic.] 2[1.2/Eh] 2[1.2/bcl] 2[1.2/cbn]-4/2/2/1-tmp+4-hp-pno-egtr-bgtr-solo ham. org-str
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Concerto for Hammond | Tonewheel Organ was commissioned by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra,
Carlos Izcaray, Music Director and by members of Sound Investment.
In the history of American music, the Hammond organ has seamlessly crossed genres and broken barriers. From the spiritual silos of the Black church, to the smooth and vivacious world of Jazz, to the hardy soulfulness of Rock; the Hammond has been there. This concerto is my love letter to all that has made me the artist I am. It is a love letter to the beauty, pain, and struggle that American music was born from.
The piece is divided into 3 movements: a rhapsody, threnody, and gospel praise break.
The first movement, Rhapsody is an exploration of American sound. It is a celebration of the many cultural influences that make the US such a unique place. In a nutshell, it is everything we continue to strive for; fluid cultural integration. I send the soloist and orchestra through a whirlwind of genres. There’s Latin flavor, modern jazz, hard rock, all thrown into a contemporary sound block.
The second movement, Invocation: Threnody for the Victims of Senseless Violence, Racism, Hatred & Bigotry presents a lot of hard truths that concern the well-being of our nation’s people. Unfortunately, even in this current day and age, America is no stranger to tragedy. Within recent years, we've had numerous isolated events of terror: mass school shootings, church shootings, shootings in public places, unlawful killings of unarmed African American citizens, and meetings of unjust racist/hate groups who threaten our ability to simply have peace by pushing an agenda of hate and division. To top it off, a global pandemic. We all simply have not had a chance to breathe. I wanted this movement to be a moment where we pay homage to all of those innocent people lost, but most importantly reflect on who we are, and re-examine our core values if we are to live in a nation where everyone, regardless of where you come from, can prosper.
This movement features the traditional American hymn Amazing Grace and the African-American spiritual
"Oh Freedom." In partnership with the orchestra, the organ introduces these inspirational themes with sound interruptions symbolic of a very cut-throat, visceral pain to create an all-encompassing duality of hope and tragedy. After a roaring improvized cadenza, the strings split into 14-part divisi and voices throughout the orchestra gradually gather and ascend to a soaring climax, with each individual voice creating a counterpoint representing the souls of the innocent victims ascending to claim their peace.
Finally, we have the third movement, Finale that is essentially one large gospel praise break between the organ and orchestra. It is a glimpse of what freedom sounds like and the peace that we’ll have when we all understand, as Dr. Maya Angelou said, that “we are more alike, than we are unalike.” This movement is lightning fast, bringing about the sound world of the Afro-American church, where echoes of praise ring out amongst the musicians.