Last year, the Salty Cricket Composers Collective (SC3) held a concert of organ music. We were talking to the Cathedral of the Madeline about hosting, but for some reason that fell through. We ended up holding it at my alma matter, the University of Utah. When the call for scores went out, I was so taken with the idea of having my work performed at the Cathedral, I wrote something inspired by their namesake, Mary Magdalene, aka Mary of Madeline. She is the Catholic Saint of the Penitent. Although I am not a Catholic, as one who often needs to repent, I could relate.
In order to honor her, I took her name, Mary of Magdalene, and used an old composer trick to create the theme. I extended the letter names of the notes, A, B, C … and so on, to create the pitches for the melody. In this case, m = F, a=A, r = D, y = D, and so on.
The piece turned out to be more “in your face” than you might expect for a work on repentance, but true repentance can come with a great deal of soul searching, spiritually gut wrenching “in your face” moments, so I’m okay with it.