Composition Date: 1998
Awards: CD O Music nominated for Classical Album of the Year, 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards
O Music (originally called Amaryliss) was commissioned by Music Alberta and the Alberta Summer Music Workshop, with assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, for the 40th anniversary of their summer music workshop. It was premiered on Saturday, August 1st, 1998 at Augustana University College in Camrose, Alberta, and is dedicated to trumpet player (and longtime workshop instructor) Bill Dimmer. The commission asked for a work that would include all the participants of the workshop’s two-week senior session, which included wind band, choir, and strings. Since then, the string parts have been removed and the work is now performed with just wind band and choir.
The piece is in two very clear sections. The first section features the wind band presenting a slow introduction of the principal theme, which is first played by solo flute. The percussion enters, and the rest of this section unfolds with ever increasing rhythmic energy. The theme for the entire section has always been one of my favourite melodies, and one that I’ve always felt would make a good theme for a heroic Braveheart-style movie.
Section two features the choir, and is a setting of a poem by Kahlil Gibran called “O Music”:
In your depths we deposit our hearts and minds,
You have taught us to see with our ears,
and to hear with our souls.
The transition into the choral section has the various members of the band either humming or playing crystal glasses. The choir sings “O Music” over this texture and then continues with the rest of the text a cappella. The band returns with the humming and glasses, and the choir finishes with “O Music.”