Opus number: 40

Title: Idumea Symphony (Symphony No. 2)

Instrumentation: 2-2-2-2; 4-2-2-0; 2 perc, hp; strings

Date written: 1993–1996, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Boston

Length: twenty minutes

Commissioner and dedicatee: Jed Gaylin and the Hoplins Symphony Orchestra

Premiere performance: Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, Jed Gaylin, conducting, March 2, 1996, Baltimore, Maryland

Recording: Moravian Philharmonic, Joel Suben conductor, CD recording in progress

Program notes:  “Idumea” (pronounced I-doo´-ma) is the Biblical name of a hymn tune taken from The Sacred Harp, an important nineteenth-century hymn book used widely in the South. The first line of text is the haunting question “And am I born to die?” This phrase and the awestruck concluding words of text “. . . and see the flaming skies,” are philosophical and imagistic points of departure for the music I composed for the Symphony.

The Idumea Symphonyis in four movements corresponding to the classical number and pacing of movements. The first movement, a monothematic sonata form in the tempo of a slow waltz, incorporates the borrowed hymn tune with my own harmonization. Here the character is visionary and ecstatic. The second movement, Transcendental Scherzo, has two distinct tempos: one a swinging, jazzy scherzo that parodies the hymn tune, and the other tempo is a very slow-moving version of the scherzo material written in a distant tonality. This second movement prophesizes the ominous fourth and last movement. Double Variation formally describes the third movement’s alternation between an original melody and the hymn tune. The finale has a punning subtitle “What Goes Around Comes Around.” The hymn tune is used here as the basis for “rounds” with rock-inspired rhythms culminating in a driving upbeat conclusion.

The Idumea Symphony was completed in the fall of 1996 with the help of a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The work is dedicated to its commissioner: Jed Gaylin and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra.