Grâce et simplicité - (2017)
á la mémoire de Lucienne Gourdon Biggs
As a young singer in southern California, I had grown up around many musicians, for my parents were involved in liturgical music and organizations like the American Guild of Organists and Guild of Temple Musicians. Among the many names of church and temple musicians which I even now recognize from my childhood are the Biggs family, and for the purpose of this small meditation, Lucienne Biggs. Her husband, Richard Keys Biggs, was an important organist and choirmaster in southern California, and she participated with him in training choirs, and after his passing, led the music program at Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. In later years, she was honored by Pope Paul VI with the "Benemerenti" of her choral work. With all her accomplishments this native-born French woman and scholar was mother to eleven musical children (photo below from 1953).
My acquaintance with her came through her friendship with my mother, after both Richard Keys Biggs and earlier my father had died. I remember well this diminutive and most gracious woman who would come to me after concerts around the Southland with kind words and encouraging compliments. Over this New Year holiday past, I learned of her biography of her husband, and read it through. It is titled "Piper to the King," a biography of organist and composer Richard Keys Biggs, by Lucienne Gourdon Biggs, Consort Press, 1979. Her son, composer, performer and teacher John Biggs, was choral conductor at Los Angeles City College when I was a young student, and it is from his press site that the book was obtained. Thinking on her generosity of spirit to me over years, this little mediation is in her memory, with its echoes of graciousness and simplicity.
For this, the work is intended to be performed simply and with such gentle spirit as a mother and musician may give. A lilting counterpoint in the center section might suggest a tuneful musette.
2 pages, circa 3' 30" an MP3 demo is here:
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this organ score.
Grâce et simplicité