The Dancing Pipes (2014)

for Organ   10 minutes

When Thomas Trotter invited me to write him a new piece, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Snetzler organ in St Laurence, Ludlow, my first thought was that I might make reference to the splendid peal of ten bells in the church tower, or perhaps write something about St Laurence himself.  St Laurence’s martyrdom at the gridiron could make for a highly dramatic piece, while his description of the poor of his city as “the treasures of the Church” might conjure up a kind of serene grandeur.  I started to experiment with different musical ideas, to see I could find some sounds which would match these subjects.  Instead, a little dancing figure occurred to me, and kept demanding my attention.  It wasn’t at all what I was looking for, but eventually I gave in and let it have its way.  The figure simply wanted to keep going, ignoring the challenges of various counterpoints that tried to knock it off balance.  It seemed as if the organ pipes themselves wanted to dance, celebrating all the different colours of the instrument. Although one of the counterpoints takes on a life of its own for a while, in The End the original dancing figure prevails.

Jonathan Dove

Commissioned by St Laurence’s Church, Ludlow, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Snetzler organ and made possible by a generous grant from The John Feeney Charitable Trust

First performance: 14th June 2014, Thomas Trotter, St Laurence's Church, Ludlow.