• Joan Tower
  • Power Dance (2015)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • organ
  • 9 min

Programme Note

Composer note:
This is my second piece for organ — an incredibly challenging instrument to write for. Without the help of Gail Archer, an organist teaching at Vassar and Barnard, I probably would not have been able to proceed. She helped me understand so much more about the organ by trying out different registrations with music that I had presented her with. Wrestling with this powerful instrument was a "power" struggle indeed — hence the double meaning of the title. Ideas that are instantly clear on the piano are not on the organ so I found myself trying to get at the "power" of the instrument — both soft and loud — from a different point of view. The complex overtones created by the pipes in combination with the big space for reverberation produces a complex timbral challenge for any composer who is not an organist.

Like my first organ piece, Ascent, this piece goes up in many different ways. At first, it is a massive slow "climb" with a big sound. When the piece gets faster, and starts to "dance," the ascents are more subtle and changing more rapidly. I try to create a "visceral" dance in this piece that keeps the energy organically moving forward.

Power Dance is about 9 minutes long and is dedicated with appreciation to organist Gail Archer

— Joan Tower