Voluntary on 'Tallis' Canon' : for organ
by Brett McKern (2012)
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Library shelf no. 786.5/MCK 6 [Not for loan]
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.
Duration: 5 min.
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
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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