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Voluntary on 'Tallis' Canon' : for organ

by Brett McKern (2012)

Voluntary on ‘Tallis’ Canon’

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We expect this item to be back in stock and available for purchase on 30 Jun 2020.


Voluntary on ‘Tallis’ Canon’ : for organ / music by Brett M McKern.

Library shelf no. 786.5/MCK 6 [Not for loan]

Work Overview

This Voluntary is, in some ways, a theme and variations with a short fanfare or introduction. Nonetheless, in each section, the theme from the famous Tallis hymn tune is used at the very least motivically. It imbues, for example, the opening fanfare with the use of the anacrusis and the fall from the tonic to the leading note and return. Often the work uses the flattened leading note as here. From bar 8 the second section uses the tune in its entirety although with the flattened seventh again and with decorated cadences and a reharmonisation. A soft section follows from bar 30, set as a faux bourdon with parallel motion in the outer parts before the hymn tune returns to the uppermost part. At bar 49 a short bridge, again based on the hymn tune and echoing the opening fanfare, leads to a very rhythmic fugal section. Here both the opening, middle and end of the hymn tune form melodic fragments used in diminution, augmentation, stretto, counterpoint, canon and various combinations of these techniques. Another small bridge leads to a sort of French organ toccata-style of end section. Here for the first time the hymn tune 'Tallis' Canon' is in fact used almost in its entirety in canon in the pedals and uppermost voice. An abrupt halt leads into the final plagal cadence (sometimes called an 'Amen cadence'), echoing the liturgical original of the tune.
This piece won first prize for a liturgical keyboard work based on this hymn tune in the RSCM ACT International Composition Competition in 2012. It has been recorded, and has been well received at performances. This new guise of an old tune gives opportunities for showing multiple different tonal colours of the organ. It is hoped it will continue to be enjoyed.

Work Details

Year: 2012

Instrumentation: Organ.

Duration: 5 min.

Difficulty: Medium

First performance: 22 Jun 13. Wesley Uniting Church, Canberra

Winner of: First Prize in the RSCM Australia ACT Branch 2012 Composition Competition for a solo keyboard liturgical work.

Performances of this work

10 Feb 19: Timaru Catholic Basilica, Timaru, NZ

18 Dec 2016: at Organ Concert (St Paul's Cathedral (London)). Featuring Kurt Ison.

29 Jun 16: St Luke's Church, Roseville, NSW. Featuring Brett McKern.

2 Jun 16: St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. Featuring Kurt Ison.

13 Sep 15: Church of St John the Evangelist, Gordon, NSW. Featuring Brett McKern.

21 Sep 14: St Mark's Church, Darling Point, NSW. Featuring Brett McKern.

9 Mar 14: Sir John Clancy Auditorium, University of NSW. Featuring Brett McKern.

22 Jun 13: Wesley Uniting Church, Canberra. Featuring Brett McKern.

23 Jun 12: Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, ACT

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