VOYAGE, a fantasy for organ, was written during the summer of 1991 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on commission from the American Guild of Organists for its 1992 Biennial National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where Alan Morrison presented its World Premiere. Funding for the commission was supplied by Carl and Sally Gable in honor of Sarah L. Martin in recognition of her unique leadership in the study of organ within the Atlanta area.
The extra-musical impetus for VOYAGE was stimulated by reflection upon the piece’s title word, not just as it may imply discovery by an explorer, but as it relates to any explorer in the discovery of life itself. In life, as in the piece, the initial fanfares launch a journey of adventure and discovery, a journey that will certainly lead through the unexpected and even the bizarre. Rest and reflection, which offer renewal from the journey and invite inner peace, are essential. A voyage of any kind is rarely easy, but once successfully completed, calls for celebration, joy and exultation.
A fantasy in four sections, VOYAGE is intended to be played as one movement without pause. Though conceived for an organ with an antiphonal division, the piece is easily adaptable to an instrument without one. The musical materials are generated through a systematic and economical use of pentatonic scales. The familiar tonal pentatonic scale (F-sharp, G-sharp, A-sharp, C-sharp, D-sharp), plus a companion transposition of it (C, D, E, G, A), join with a “pivot” note, B, to form the basis of these materials. Both the opening fanfare-like Section I and the rhythmically driving Section II utilize only pitches of a new five-note scale: E, G, B, C-sharp, D-sharp (with these pitches being generated from a combination of the two original pentatonic scales plus the “pivot” note, B). The reflective Section III introduces and exclusively uses another new five-note scale made from a combination of the piece’s two original pentatonic scales : C, D, F-sharp, G-sharp, A. A short transition section linking Sections III and IV extensively varies, develops and expands all of the pentatonic scale material introduced in the piece which, combined with virtuosic manual writing, double-pedaling and full organ, brings VOYAGE to an exultant conclusion.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina