Stonewall Magnificats is a reimagining of one of the two unaccompanied “Stonewall Interludes” from my Glass House Concerto, which I composed for Matthew Coley in 2011. When he asked for a piece for large percussion ensemble four years later, I returned to this work for my germinal materials.
The present work is an investigation into the myriad ways in which a composer may magnify isolated moments from a preexisting work. Ideas that might only last a few seconds in the original interlude are now blown up so as to take on an integral structural role in this more substantial piece. During the compositional process, I isolated several gestures, chords, or rhythmic ideas, and subjected them to techniques such as transposition, reordering, and/or more extensive direct repetition. Several ideas come back again and again, including a very active, textural gesture, and steady eighth note ostinati.
As I worked, the Latin word “magnificat” reappeared again and again in my head. Many musicians are familiar with the biblical “Magnificat” text, spoken by Mary in the gospel of Luke upon learning of her pregnancy. Composers from Bach to Penderecki have set the text to music, and several psalm tones for the magnificat are used in the Catholic liturgy. As a nod to this well-known musical “magnification”, I quoted two chant melodies harmonized using chords derived from other parts of the work, to contrast with the rest of the work. The first of these is heard in the metallic instruments just before the coda of the work. These quotations represent the only musical material not derived from the original interlude.
Stonewall Magnificats was commissioned by Matthew Coley, director of the Heartland Marimba Festival and Academy, where I served as composer-in-residence during the summer of 2015, and where the work was premiered along with my Etudes and Fugues for solo marimba.
(Audio used with permission of the Heartland Marimba Festival and Academy)