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Dedica was commissioned in 2004 by Richard Apperley with financial assistance from Creative New Zealand. I was delighted to receive this commission as I have always enjoyed writing music for the organ. My upbringing in the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir in Dunedin is perhaps the inspiration for this favouritism. As the title suggests, the piece is dedicated to my composition teacher Professor Jack Speirs who passed away in 2000. Jack once said to me that he thought I wrote my best music for the organ, thus I felt this opportunity to write this piece was a good time to dedicate a piece to a man who did so much for my development as a composer.
Outside Jack’s office in Dunedin a bird used to sing a distinctive four-note melody consisting of two intervals of a fourth, a tone apart. I commented to Jack one day that I thought this would be a good motif for a composition. ‘I’ve already done that,’ was Jack’s swift reply as he used it in his most popular work Cantico del Sole. So, as I set out to write this piece I decided to use the same four note melody and also a counter melody Jack wrote in Cantico del Sole.
Dedica is divided into five sections; a simple chorale / a faster idea with fanfares / a slower more complex chorale / a section of quasi bird song variation / and a manic repeated note section, with a short cadenza at the end. Each of the sections has the basic four-note bird song as its inspiration. Only on one occasion in the middle of the work do you hear clearly the extended eight-note melody that Jack developed from the four-note bird song. In all sections the interval of a fourth is used both harmonically (interlocking) and as a melodic feature, as is the tone that separates the interval in the melody. One of the most exciting things about writing for the organ is the extremes of dynamic, texture and atmosphere that you can create. Each of the sections therefore create different moods while at the same time exploring just what can be possible on the organ.
Programme note by Tecwyn Evans
Commissioned by Richard Apperley, with financial assistance from Creative New Zealand
In memory of Jack Speirs
In five sections
28 Mar 2004: Performed by Richard Apperley at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
26 Sep 2014: Richard Apperley - Organ Recital