The Seventh Seal, for organ and alto saxophone, was commissioned by Fredrick Hemke and Douglass Cleveland and was premiered in November 2002 at the Moscow Conservatory. This work takes the book of Revelations as a point of departure. In this well known book of the Bible, a lamb, in John’s vision, opens seven seals that reveal omens signaling the “‘end of days.” Upon opening the seventh seal, seven angels appear before God and are given seven trumpets, each of which, when sounded, bring about destruction on the earth and in the sky. My work for organ and saxophone similarly unfolds in seven stages, each stage marked by a heralding “trumpet call,” that has an obvious programmatic association with the Revelations story. The first of these “trumpet calls” contains seven notes and is played by the organ at the very beginning of the work. Each subsequent statement builds in intensity by adding seven notes to the previous one so that the final statement (the seventh one) contains a total of forty-nine notes. This last statement comprises the entire last section of the work, which attempts to convey a sense of desolation and eerie serenity that I have often imagined as the state of the world after the time of tribulation. This work is dedicated to Fred and Doug whose artistry and humanity never cease to inspire.
The Seventh Seal
$6.00 – $13.00
for alto saxophone and organ (2002)
Commissioned by Fredrick Hemke and Douglass Cleveland
Premiere: the Moscow Conservatory by Fredrick Hemke and Douglass Cleveland – September 2002
Duration: 8 minutes