Epiclesis (2017) originally began as a desire to compose a mid-length, single-movement piece for brass duo (trumpet and trombone) and piano. As I started to think on what the piece should be “about,” the word “Epiclesis” occurred to me. As someone who has spent many years as a church musician, this is a term with which I have become familiar; a Greek word referring to the part of the Catholic Mass wherein the Holy Spirit is called down upon the offering of bread and wine. This spiritual association appealed to my understanding of music making as primarily a spiritual act, and so, it became the title of the piece before any material was composed.
With this in mind, the work’s opening trumpet call occurred to me, and the musical material began to take shape. As this was happening, the sound of the piano was replaced in my ideation by the sound of the harp, so the instrumentation was then solidified with the unusual combination of trumpet, trombone, and harp.
There are three major musical ideas that help to form the arc of this piece. The trumpet’s opening call is initially presented with austere open chords in the harp, but returns in many forms throughout the piece and in all three instruments, sometimes in conjunction with the other motifs. In addition, because this is a brass piece, I thought it would be enjoyable to work in some “fanfare” material for the trumpet and trombone. Thus, the second major idea is presented with a brass fanfare coupled with some fast finger work in the harp. The third major idea presented is a sort of pentatonic “hymn tune” with a hint of bluesy-ness, again connecting to the spiritual allusions of the title. This melody, which I often used when singing my children to sleep as infants, seemed to fit perfectly into this piece.
Ultimately, Epiclesis is about connecting all of these elements—its musical ideas, its uncommon instrumentation, and its spiritual underpinnings—into one experience that draws people together in its performance.
Click on the title page image above to view sample pages from the score.
Below is a recording of the premiere performance in September, 2018.