View performance on YouTube.
In the fall of 2016, I was approached by my friend and colleague, Dr. Robert Ambrose, to compose a work for his professional chamber group, the Atlanta Chamber Winds. The work needed to be based on Medieval musical material for an upcoming concert. To help inspire the writing process, another friend and colleague, musicologist Dr. Marie Sumner-Lott, provided me with ample source material. After doing a bit of listening and score study, I decided to base my composition on the four-part setting of the Viderunt Omnes by the 12th Century composer Pérotin.
The work is not an arrangement but rather more of a meditation on fragments of both Pérotin’s setting as well as the traditional Gregorian chant that forms the foundation of all the musical material. Within the brief confines of this work, the listener may discern direct quotes from the Organum Quadruplum setting by Pérotin as well as the original chant melody. I have also included freely composed “commentaries” that are interjected throughout. These commentaries are most notably featured in the horns during the polyphonic textures as well as in a solo flute line found near the conclusion of the work.
For me, the title Echoes In The Wind is an accurate description of what I am trying to accomplish compositionally as well as in terms of the medium I am working within. The basic musical material echoes down to me through time. It is perceived through a decidedly 21st Century perspective and given voice by modern wind instruments. Perhaps the clearest programmatic nod to the concept of “echoes” occurs near the end of the piece as vast sonorities grow out of one another before a last fragment of the original chant is presented.
Although not specifically planned this way, I composed most of the piece during the month of December. This season seems fitting as the Viderunt Omnes is thought to have been written for Christmas and Pérotin’s own four-part setting may have been composed for the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. This Feast Day is still observed in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church on January 1 and is considered a part of the traditional “12 Days of Christmas.”