Proclamation, The

for Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra

  • Genre
    Music for the Stage
  • Commissioned by/written for
    John Canfield
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
  • Timing
  • Catalog number
No items found.
  • copies sold
  • 1
    known performances
  • General notes
    Co-composed with John Canfield; Libretto by June DeBoor Canfield
No media available.
No events scheduled.
No reviews.

When my father first approached me with the idea of jointly composing a work on the subject of the passion and resurrection of Christ, I was a bit hesitant. After all, hundreds of composers have set this story, the greatest in all of human history. Thinking about it, I became attracted to the idea on several fronts: First of all, it would be told through the eyes of the Apostle John, who would be the narrator in the work. Secondly, despite having a good knowledge of the literature of Western music, I was unable to think of another work that was a collaboration between a father and a son, even though there have been any number of families (Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Tcherepnin and others) where composition has followed down to the 2nd and even 3rd generation. Finally, I wanted to be involved in a work that would present the Christian Gospel message in a direct and easily-understood way, since my parents and I both share the Christian faith. Not only was my musical training "handed down" from my father, who gave me my first lessons, but so was my faith—indeed, the normative means of passing down the gospel message is from parents to children. Thus this work would stand as a testament to this "passing down" that has occurred from parents to children across hundreds of generations. The Proclamation, a music drama in two parts, is comprised of 30 sections, 23 with music, and seven for unaccompanied narrator. Its primary unifying musical principle is that of the Leitmotif, popularized in Wagner's operas. Hence, there are musical motives for Jesus, the atonement, Peter's denial, and the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), the old Latin chant used by dozens of composers in various works as a sign of death. There are also Leitmotifs for the Messiah and the crowd welcoming Jesus. On some occasions, the motives are used to countermand what is being sung at the time (e,g. Peter in his protestations that he would never deny his Lord). On other occasions, they change in character. The motive of the crowd welcoming Jesus becomes ugly and mocking later on when these same people are demanding and then witnessing his crucifixion. The work is cast in a late-romantic style throughout most sections. The opening music in The Prelude, introduces the Dies Irae, the atonement motive and the Jesus theme. In The Festival, a movement depicting the Jewish Passover, a conscious effort was made by both composers to capture a Jewish flavor.. Even in this festive movement, the Dies Irae is subtly woven in to give a foreshadowing of the crucifixion. In movement XIX, The Death of Jesus, the listener will note a substantial stylistic shift away from romanticism. The composers felt that the crucifixion of Jesus, the most dramatic moment in human history (with the exception of his resurrection three days later), could not be portrayed in tonal music. Accordingly, this movement is dissonant and violent, with agonizing cries from the chorus and unearthly sounds from the orchestra. Throughout, one hears the tri-tone (the “devil in music”), symbolically prominent as portraying Satan’s apparent victory over his mortal foe. Also prominent is the Dies Irae, representing a holy God’s righteous wrath against his Son, as Jesus bore in his body the sins of his people. After this point, the Dies Irae is heard no more, since God’s wrath was satisfied by his perfectly righteous Son’s death for all persons who would place their faith in him for salvation. This is the concept of the propitiation in Christian theology. At the climax of this torturous music is a fortissimo choral and orchestral C-Major triad, representing the realization by the people witnessing the crucifixion that Jesus truly was the Son of God. They respond with an a capella chorus, Truly, truly, affirming this light of revelation to them. . The latter part of the work examines the effect that the resurrection had upon Mary, Peter, and the other disciples. It concludes with a triumphant affirmation by the general populace for their deliverance from bondage to sin by Jesus, mirroring in both words and music their earlier celebration at the Passover Feast of their deliverance from the bondage of Pharoah in Egypt. As far as the disposition of labor went, my father designed the structure of the piece, and wrote most of the tunes. Since he wasn't really a professional composer, I did just about everything else, although there is fanfare in one movement that is entirely his and a few other sections where he contributed more than just a tune. Likewise, both he and I made some adjustments to my mother's libretto, although she was quite skilled in her use of the English language, and taught me much about good writing when I was young. There were also some sections of the work that I wrote entirely myself, including "The Death of Jesus," "The Entr'acte," "The Resurrection Morn," and a few others. The Proclamation received its premiere at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church on April 17, 2003. This performance was given in oratorio style, although the composers had conceived the work to be given with staging, and it is for this reason that some stage directions are given in the libretto.

No items found.