October 27, 2013
- Celebrating the music of Richard Purvis
On Sunday, I will have the pleasure of playing “Three Novelettes” from Purvis’s published collection titled: “Organ Music From Grace Cathedral.” For almost twenty-five years Purvis was the Organist and Masters of Choristers at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Purvis’ music is a delight to play for many reasons: its lyrical nature, its chromaticism, its harmonic color and above all else this music is written for the organist to enjoy and play.
Each of the Three Novelettes exhibit the same form of A-B-A’ and are composed in keys with no accidentals. The theme of Novelette I is a creative rewriting of the C major scale placed with a few leaps. The rhythm remains exactly the same in the theme from phrase to phrase. The pedal plays the C major scale up to the leading tone. In the B section, the composer creates interest by moving the key to its relative minor, by including triplets and finally, by placing rests between the phrases that do go over the bar lines.
In Novelette II, Purvis’ fascination with theater organ is apparent. The A section functions like a wheel that oscillates between these pieches: A, F, E-flat. The B section is a theater organ sound at its best for the pipe organ. In fact, it is tempting at times to play the pedal line with the left foot and keep my right foot on the swell box. Here in this section, the chromaticism develops the interest.
Novelette III is a trumpet tune and will be a delightful postlude. Once again, Purvis composes a pedal part within the C scale, however this time he chooses at a time to add a blue note or modulate the dominant key. The manual parts need to remain legato while the theme is played in a marcato manner. The middle section “pops” and “bursts” as the once again, the composer sequences the rhythmic motive through keys that would be “at home” on a theater organ.
‘til Sunday-Robert Morehead
Other music selections:
Introit: Do not be afraid-I am with you- Arr. Barnard
Hymn of Praise: My Faith Looks Up to Thee (#383)
Act of Praise: Laudate Nomen Domini- Christopher Tye
Special Music: God Is Our Refuge And Strength-Mozart
Hymn of Response: Faith Begins By Letting Go
Choral Offering: Do Not Be Afraid-I Am With You- Arr. Barnard
Hymn of Dedication: Take My Life (#391)
Congregational Response: Do Not Be Afraid-I Am With You- Arr. Barnard