We are delighted to announce that after some very tough 'blind' judging due to the high quality of entries received from around the world (thank you to all those who entered) for our 'Organ Music for Quiet Moments' competition, the top five winning titles have been chosen, and out of those five entries, the outright winner is:
'A Solemn Sarabande for these distracted times', by Peter J. Smith
Peter Smith (b.1944) has been teaching music in schools and serving as a church organist and choirmaster for more than fifty years. He is currently Director of Music at St Mary’s Parish Church in the town of Ware in Hertfordshire. Although he has written a good deal of choral music over the years, Peter turned seriously to writing solo organ pieces for organist friends only in the spring of 2020, motivated by a desire to spend many hours of isolation to some useful end. First thoughts were, not unnaturally, triggered by the pandemic crisis, and a keyboard piece by Thomas Tomkins, written during the English Civil War, came to mind. Was it possible to devise a 21st century equivalent of some kind? Starting from the initial idea with its reversed dotted rhythm, the resulting Solemn Sarabande developed quite naturally. The texture of the central section may have been influenced by Flor Peeters’ Aria.
Peter's piece was adjudged as follows.... 'The title, clearly appropriate at the moment, has an obvious link to Thomas Tomkins 'Sad Pavan for these distracted times'. Unlike Tomkins' work, however, the mood is one of consolation.... The piu mosso section provides a convincing contrast, but still fits in with the mood of the whole piece.'
A few words from the winning composer
"I spotted this competition for short organ pieces by the merest chance on Facebook, and on a sudden whim decided to enter a piece I’d just written to relieve the long and potentially empty hours of lockdown. I was in due course surprised, flattered and honoured to learn that I’d been awarded first prize, and look forward to seeing and playing the pieces of my fellow finalists." Peter J. Smith
Peter's good friend, Jonathan Dods, (a former chorister and organ pupil of Peter's), on hearing that Peter had won the competition immediately went and recorded 'Sarabande....' on the fine organ (visually as well as tonally) in St Michael’s, Bedford Park (Chiswick). Jon is a fine and extremely musical player and we are delighted to share in his work...
The four other winning entries (in no particular order!), which will be published with 'Sarabande' in an anthology booklet are as follows:
'Addison's Song', by Annette Butters
Following a career as a military musician, Annette gained a music degree as a mature student. The organ has been a more recent discovery and I am currently Director of Music at St Mary’s Parish Church, Barnard Castle. 'Addison' is a traditional local name to Teesdale. The music, with folk elements and constant movement strives to recreate the gentle rolling of the hills, the peace found in nature’s beauty and the passing on of the name from past to future generations.
'Meditation', by Stuart Beaudoin
Stuart is a Toronto church music director (retired) for 40 years; orchestra conductor for those 40 years with a more formal group (Orpheus Symphonietta) these last 25 years; founder and conductor of a chamber choir, Cantorei sine Nomine, which these past 16 years has performed mainly renaissance and baroque. Now retired to compose full time. 'Meditation' is the third movement of a short organ mass called 'Missa Ludens' written for Stu's friend, Eric Robertson and was adjudged to be 'expressive, with some tension in the middle'.
'Idyll', by Graham Twist
Born in West Yorkshire, England, in 1958, music has been important throughout Graham's life. Whilst not a trained musician, Graham has been passionate about all things organ from the age of eight, but had to wait until semi-retirement to return to the joy of playing organ music from many years ago . . . as well as trying to learn new pieces! 'Idyll' is a composition written in July 2020 for the competition and although not 'modern' in terms of harmony or melody, the piece is lyrical and attractive and captures the theme of a quiet moment perfectly.
'Nearer my God to thee', by David Stamos
David is, by profession, a philospher and teaches at two Universities in Toronto. As a young man, he was a Church organist for eight years, having previously taken Royal Conservatory piano. This piece was composed by David at the age of 25 and was resurrected after purchasing a good virtual pipe organ at home when he found new joy in playing them. This arrangement by David is of Eliza Flower's well-known Victorian tune (the verse being written by her sister, Sarah). The beauty lies in the simple expressiveness of the arrangement.
The Anthology booklet will be released in the middle of August priced at £11.95, but we have made it available only via our website at the pre-order price of just £9.95 until 16th August 2020 ... Click on the cover page below to take you to the order page ....
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