Gwyneth Walker

Profound Praise

for Tuba and Organ (2013)

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Profound Praise consists of two parts: Hymns of Celebration (8 minutes) and Three Christmas Carols (7 minutes).

Hymns of Celebration is a set of three familiar Protestant hymns arranged for tuba and organ. The intent is to provide additional repertoire for these two powerful instruments -- forces which can balance and match their magnificent strengths.

The organ writing is mostly in hymn style (chordal). Meanwhile, the tuba offers commentary, occasionally doubles the bass line and presents newly composed interludes.

The three hymn tunes, favorites of the composer, were selected to offer a variety of styles:

1. "A Mighty Fortress" = power
2. "Fairest Lord Jesus" = lyricism
3. "Christ is Risen" (Easter Hymn) = rhythmic energy

Three Christmas Carols are reinterpretations of of three familiar carols for tuba and organ. Each of the new arrangements features one or more special musical characteristics, or views of the carol, which shapes the music.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel opens with a sparkling countermotive, perhaps as the spirit of anticipation, the Holy Spirit, surrounding the melody (plainchant). During the refrains (Rejoice, O Come Emmanuel), the accompaniment joins with the tuba in chordal-style affirmation. In contrast, the verses are florid.

Angels We Have Heard on High has a similar countermotive to Emmanuel, but it is now bright and energetic, as if fully announcing the coming of the Christ-child. During the refrain, the organ plays chords on the off beats, as joyful punctuation. This dialogue of off and on beats continues throughout the movement. The final refrain overlaps the statements of the theme.

Good Christian Friends Rejoice! is placed in a bouncing 6/8 meter. The expected alternation between Tonic and Dominant harmonies is presented in the organ pedal, thus allowing the tuba the freedom to play the melody - a pleasant switch of traditional roles. The agile tubist is asked to scamper around the range of the instrument in various playful, scalar passages... all in the spirit of rejoicing!

Notes by the composer