Queen of Heaven for piano and electronics
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Queen of Heaven is a large-scale composition for piano and electronics, cast as five meditations on the Virgin Mary. Each of the five movements is set in musical materials that both subjectively and symbolically express the composer's study and experience of scriptural, liturgical and iconographic sources relating to different aspects of her unique place in Christian theology. The first movement, “Hail, Holy Queen,” imagines the greeting of the Virgin by the hosts of angels, in enormous, sonorous and terrifying voices. The second and fourth movements each take their inspiration from titles for Mary: “Full-of-Grace” from kecharitomene, the Greek word of greeting spoken by the Archangel Gabriel in Luke 1:28; and “The-One-Who-Gives-Birth-To- God” from Theotokos, an ancient liturgical and devotional epithet. These two are divided by “The Unburnt Bush,” based on iconographic and liturgical sources that celebrate the prefiguration of the Virgin in the burning bush of Exodus. The fifth and final movement returns to the heavenly setting of the first, drawing its imagery from Revelation 12: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The electronic sounds in Queen of Heaven consist of both triggered sound files and live processing of the piano. One of the composer's goals in constructing these sounds was to combine the reliability of fixed media electronics with the performative flexibility and spontaneity possible with live-generated sound and processing. The sound files for the first and third movements allow for flexibility in pacing for the pianist by using sounds whose textures imply no particular metric stresses, and whose duration is such to allow a wide flexibility of tempo for the pianist. This model is broken by the explicitly metric character of the electronic sound in the fifth movement, which is designed for the pianist to be able to follow easily without the use of a click track. Queen of Heaven was commissioned by pianist Kari Johnson, and is dedicated to the Most Holy God-Bearer and Ever-Virgin Mary.
Table of Contents
Frontmatter -- Hail, Holy Queen! (angelic greeting of the Mother of God) -- Full-of-grace (kecharitomene) -- The unburnt bush -- The one-who-gives-birth-to-God (theotokos) -- The woman clothed with the sun