Commission: Gail Archer
University of Alberta
The title Dust & Shadow comes from Book IV, Ode vii of the Odes of Horace. The original Latin is “Pulvis et umbra sumus” (We are but dust and shadow). It speaks of our ephemeral nature, and of course, extends to music as well – sent as a missive through the air, reverberating through our beings and dissipating, though its imprint may last – at least for some time, before melting away as does all. Dust & Shadow was commissioned by organist Gail Archer and is dedicated to her. I want to thank her for the original demonstration on the organ at Central Synagogue in New York, and also to thank two churches in Charlottesville whose staff kindly enabled me to try out all manner of ideas on their beautiful organs: the First Presbyterian and First Christ Episcopal Churches of Charlottesville, VA. I want to especially thank Music Director Jeremy Thompson, who introduced me to the Casavant Frères organ, and organist Alice Layman at the latter. It was a marvelous experience to experiment with registrations and sonic combinations in these spiritual spaces. Suggested registrations accompany the score. They are meant to be suggestive and to be followed where possible, though, of course, individual organs will lead to other choices.