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Organ Overture

by Anthony Ritchie, for organ and orchestra, Opus 125

A stormy and vibrant piece with challenging organ part.

Listen to performance

Programme Note

Organ Overture was commissioned by the Southern Sinfonia to celebrate the orchestra's 40th anniversary. It was written and funded as part of the composer's work at the University of Otago. It features a prominent part for concert organ, and is also partly a tribute to 'Norma', the Dunedin Town Hall organ.

Orchestras often bring together many threads of a musical community, and are a vital part of the culture in New Zealand cities. The diversity of instruments and musicians on display in an orchestra are a great source of inspiration for composers and music-followers alike. In this overture I give thanks to the Sinfonia, and wish it a long and happy future.

Elements of southern weather find their way into the music. The piece opens stormily, with jagged lightning and rumbling thunder. A vigorous theme emerges and leads to a gusty, pulsating passage. As this calms a little, a drum rhythm appears. Following a flowing melody on strings, accompanied by the organ, the percussion rhythm battles with rest of the orchestra. This leads to a fugue on the woodwinds, based on the opening melody, The organ then takes over with a brief cadenza, leading to a rhythmic coda in which the main themes are summarised.