Rumba for Organ, Percussion, and Dancers
George Baker’s Rumba for Organ, Percussion, and Dancers was composed for Daryl Robinson to premiere at the Houston 2016 National AGO Convention. It is written for organ, four percussionists, and two Cuban dancers. The exact origin of the word rumba is unknown, although the term came to be known as a secular genre of Cuban music involving dance, percussion and song. The rumba originated in central Cuba (Havana and Matanzas) during the late 19th century and was often performed in the streets by people of African descent. The core instruments of the rumba are the claves (Cuban sticks) and the conga drums. Other available instruments were often used, such as shakers (e.g., maracas), scrapers (e.g. guiro or serrated gourd), cow bells, and bongos. All of these Latin percussion instruments are used in the piece. The Rumba has two main themes: a rhythmic first theme in D Major, and the lyrical second theme in D minor. A brisk tempo gives the piece a festive party feel, and the syncopated rhythms make you want to get up and dance. The piece is in three main sections, A-B-A' with a short introduction and a coda. Our French friends Charles-Marie Widor and Claude Debussy make cameo appearances, as they always thought they could dance too. Imagine that! (Note by the composer)
Variations on 'Nicaea'
David Briggs (b. 1962) currently resides in Toronto, Ontario and is a highly sought-after performer, composer, and improviser. A native of England, Briggs was awarded The Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists at age seventeen and served as an organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. He maintains an active international recital career, frequently accompanying silent films and performing a unique range of repertoire that often includes his own transcriptions of orchestral works. The Variations on ‘Nicaea’ were commissioned in 2014 to honor my mother's devotion to my musical education, and is based on one of her favorite hymns. Opening with the theme on the lush Flûte stops of the organ, Briggs developed a sumptuous variety of variations that include: Trio, Adagio (a la Pierre Cochereau), Agitato, a six voice Canon, and finally a Finale in the spirit of Marcel Dupré and a coda that is purely Briggs!
Come, Pure Hearts: Introduction, Theme, and Variations
David Ashley White (b. 1944) is a composer whose catalogue contains a variety of sacred and secular works, with an emphasis on choral music, David Ashley White is Professor of Composition and Director of the University of Houston Moores School of Music, where he holds the Margaret M. Alkek and Margaret Alkek Williams Endowed Chair. Composed in winter 2013 at the commission of Daryl Robinson, Come, Pure Hearts is based on the composer’s hymn tune MARGARET (1982), named for Margaret Flowers, onetime parish musician at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston. After a brief introduction and statement of the tune, four variations follow, each comprising manipulations of fragments from the original melody. Following a scherzo-like first variation, the following movement not only includes zimbelstern at its joyful climax, but, reflecting the composer’s fondness for bell sounds in general, handbells are also employed at the atmospheric conclusion of this variation. The dramatic focus of the overall composition is the third variation for solo pedals, which is then followed by a more lyrical final variation that strongly references the pentatonic nature of the theme.