PROGRAM NOTES GABRIELI INFUSION
Giovanni Gabrieli has long been one of my favorite composers—an artist whose sensitivity to resonant textures and adherence to creative counterpoint I find fresh and invigorating. In honor of the 400th anniversary of Gabrieli’s death (I wasn’t around to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his birth), I’ve composed a work in which his motet O Magnum Mysterium becomes the foundation of an extended composition for wind ensemble.
The piece opens with an arrangement of the motet. Immediately upon completion, a lone bassoonist, who has been sitting on stage, “improvises” a response…the bassoonist is soon joined by a few saxophones, and, gradually, everyone in the wind ensemble joins in, celebrating Gabrieli and his motet—a musical birthday offering, as it were.
The work is scored so as to highlight the many choirs within the wind ensemble, amplifying Gabrieli’s predilection for multiple choruses. As with Gabrieli’s rendition of the motet, the center of Gabrieli Infusion celebrates the text’s “great mystery and wonderful sacrament” (I hope you will be able to hear the quotations and heartfelt rededication of the original during those moments). Further, one of the most salient features of Gabrieli’s setting is the exciting metric modulation he placed toward the end of the piece (“Alleluja!” in the vocal version of the motet). Here Gabrieli changes the value of the pulse from a division of two to a division of three, effectively increasing the beat by a ratio of 3:2. This change in pulse is the core of my response to Gabrieli in the large- and small-scale structures of the work, defining both large-scale proportions and surface counterpoints.