Mountain and Plain

Mountain and Plain


for solo organ (10’)

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Completed in May, 2018.

Commissioned by the Royal Canadian College of Organists 2018 Calgary Organ Festival and dedicated to Ryan Jackson. Work premiered by Ryan Jackson at Knox United Church (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) on July 2, 2018.

Program Note

Some of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen have been where the prairies meet the Rocky Mountains just west of Calgary, Alberta, where I lived for five years. The beauty of these sites was never simple or soft. More often, it radiated from violent conflict between flatness and sharp incline, between grass and rock, or between light and shadow. This elemental, violent beauty mimics my favorite aspects of music, where dissonance and consonance commingle in similar chiaroscuro. In Mountain and Plain, commissioned for the 2018 Calgary Organ Festival, I set out to write music that explores violent contrast — here, stagnancy gives way to sweeping motion, loudness to softness, harshness to tenderness, and finally dissonance to consonance.

The composition opened with atmospheric chords in the style of Messiaen, separated by effective silences and giant melodic moments in the pedals. Written in a kind of ABA structure, this picturesque composition was an unmistakable portrait of meandering vistas—in the moody conversations between the flutes and sharp, jagged landscapes, and in the jagged pedal fragments and French-toccata-like conclusion. This was a hugely successful composition... “Mountain and Plain” deserves to become well-known.
— Lottie Enns-Braun, "Organ Canada"