The Missouri Harmony

for organ

Christopher Fox

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for organ

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Composer Christopher Fox
Year of Composition 1985
Duration ca.18'

Categories (all composers) , , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-cf1tmh1


The Missouri Harmony was begun in 1984 and completed in February 1985; it was written for Huub ten Hacken and the beautiful organ of Sint Janskathedral, ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. The piece takes its title from a 19th century treatise on the musical practice of the Shakers, the American religious sect. In Shaker worship music was of paramount importance as an expression of spiritual ecstasy, and in hymn-singing each member of a Shaker congregation would pursue his own musical path, each singer ‘labouring’ his own version of the tune, so that the overall result was an inspired heterophony around the original melody.

In my piece three voices (right hand, left hand and pedals ) move independently but similarly: in each voice phrases lengthen and then contract, lengthen and finally contract again; and in all the voices there is a gradual movement upward. Progress is slow throughout: not so slow that awareness of the overall melodic contour is lost, but slow enough for it to be possible to enjoy the acoustic presence of single harmonies.

The Missouri Harmony is dedicated to Huub ten Hacken; he gave the first performance in Sint Janskathedral on 28th August 1985.

A recording of this work is available on A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory from NMC Recordings (NMC D114).