Commission: Gail Archer
Convocation Hall, University of Alberta
The title Dust and 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 to our ephemeral natures, and suggests to me that of music as well – it is sent as a missive through the air, reverberates through our beings and dissipates, though its imprint may last. Still, the experiences, both of our lives and of music, have a wonderful richness as they happen.
Dust and 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 specially thank Music Director Jeremy Thompson, who introduced me to the Casavant Frères organ, and staff whiz Judy Blair for her administrative help at the former, and organist Alice Layton at the latter. It was a marvelous experience to try out different registrations and sonic combinations and feel a communion with them in these spiritual spaces.