Premiered May 3, 2019 by Brenda Portman at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio
Monument was awarded the Third Place Prize in the District of Columbia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists’ 2019 Composition Competition. It was inspired by the architecture of the Washington Monument as it towers over the city of Washington D.C. Different aspects of the architecture, such as its strength, simplicity, solemnity, and grandeur, are reflected in different sections of the piece. The word “monument” refers to a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous person or event. Ironically, this piece of music serves as a “monument” to commemorate this building, which in turn commemorates George Washington. Likewise, two tunes from around the time of George Washington are woven into the piece, serving as monuments to that period of history. “Stony Point” and “Katy Hill” both originated in a collection of colonial American folk music from the time of the American Revolution.
A sturdy theme begins the piece in octaves, echoed by distant brass-like fanfares. The second phrase restates the theme with perfect fifths stacked on top of each other, reinforcing the concept of strength and durability. A transitional section leads to the entrance of “Stony Point,” initially in just one voice, and then accompaniment is added, with the harmony growing more dissonant until the motion stops and the landscape is cleared for a quieter section. “Katy Hill” enters serenely on flute stops, with simple harmonies evolving into a short fugue. From there, intensity builds and the opening theme is restated in augmentation, with fragments of “Stony Point” inserted after each phrase. This is followed by a fully harmonized statement of the opening theme and a grand march, erupting into a toccata with “Katy Hill” now serving as a final triumphant trumpet call.