Variations on a Theme of Hurd - (2008)
for James Walker
Last year, my friend, organist James Walker from All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, sent me the melody to a hymn tune by David Hurd, which he said was among his favorites. I decided to take this theme and treat it through harmonic and voicing variations. For this the theme is presented first in the soprano voice in a moving four part harmony. When it returns, the second instance is in the alto voice in a kind of fauxbourdon, and the third in the tenor. At last the pedal takes up the theme as the top voices decorate it.
The final statement in the pedal extends the tune's final implication of D, but resolves to F major as is the tonic of this set of variations. A decorative set of cascading lines creates a final quasi improviso ending, as it gently sets back into the tonic.
[ 5 pages, circa 4' 45" ]
The entire work is here, , an MP3 file [ 4.5 MB, 4' 50" ]
David Hurd (b. 1950) is widely recognized as one of the foremost church musicians and concert organists in the country, with a long list of awards, prizes, honors and achievements to his credit. He studied both at the Preparatory Division of the Juilliard School and at Manhattan's High School of Music and Art. Later he attended Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating with a music degree in 1971, and went on for further study at the University of North Carolina and, back in New York, at the Manhattan School of Music. Since 1976, David Hurd has worked at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City, first as Director of Chapel Music and later also as Professor of Church Music and Organist. Hurd is the composer of dozens of choral and organ works published by a number of major houses, and served as Vice Chairman of the Standing Commission on Church Music of the Episcopal Church for a number of years.
James Walker has been Director of Music and Organist-Choirmaster at All Saints Church since 1991. His solo recitals have been broadcast on National Public Radio. Winner of the prestigious Mader National Organ-Playing Competition in 1986, he has been a featured performer at the Carmel Bach Festival, the Los Angeles Bach Festival, and several Regional and National Conventions of the American Guild of Organists. He was College Organist and Instructor of Organ at Occidental College in Los Angeles for nearly a quarter century. He resigned from academia in 2004 to allow space for practice and composition. Walker holds both undergraduate and Master of Music degrees from the University of Southern California School of Music.
The score for Variations on a Theme of Hurd 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.
Variations on a Theme of Hurd