The organ prelude is one of my favorites. It is set in a very modern style, but unlike much mid to late 20th century organ music, you probably won’t consider it “dissonant.” The peace may be exchanged is a great piece with an unusual title. It is a movement from a suite for organ called, Rubrics, and each piece in this suite is based on a rubric (instruction) from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The composer, Dan Locklair (b. 1949), is very well known in the musical world, especially the organ and church music worlds. Holding degrees from Union Seminary (NYC) and The Eastman School (Rochester), he is currently Composer-in Residence and a music professor at Wake Forrest University in Winston-Salem, NC. Rubrics is one of the most frequently performed organ works by an American, and selections from it have been featured at Washington’s National Cathedral at Ronald Reagan’s funeral and for events surrounding the 2009 Presidential Inauguration of Barak Obama. Sunday’s prelude, The peace may be exchanged, is a lovely movement full of mellow and full-bodied tones employing double pedal (the organist is to play two lines with the feet rather than one). The beauty of this work, however, is that you probably won’t notice how complex it actually is. As with most good pieces, the technicality is simply the necessary byproduct of a straightforward but unusual musical idea.
The postlude this week, Toccata in d minor by Max Reger (1973-1916) is a classic example of German Romanticism in music. Seeing himself as the heir of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, Reger wrote in Baroque forms while adding all sorts of then-modern harmonies and techniques (extending the way Beethoven and Brahms composed). His pieces are mainly noted for their density and chromaticism – which is to say they have a lot of notes! Many people have called his music “Bach on steroids.” Personally, I find a lot of “heart” in Reger’s music, and a sense of grandeur. It’s almost as if Reger wrote his pieces certain of their magnificence. Even if he is not quite as well known as he would’ve liked, Reger deserves to be recognized as probably the most important German organ composer of his time and, at the very least, the greatest exponent of his pyrotechnic style! Come to church this week and hear his amazing toccata.