Bellefield Hall Auditorium, Free
Bassist Andrew Kohn will give a reprise performance of my double bass concerto Finney’s Prayer with the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, March 2nd at Pitt’s Bellefield Hall Auditorium. Andy premiered the piece back in (gasp!) 1998 when I composed it as my MA thesis composition. In addition, Andy has written a companion concerto for trombone and chamber orchestra titled Finney’s Birthplace. Kevin McManus will perform the trombone solo.
I’d like to tell you that our pieces are the featured works of the evening, but I’m not going to kid you. The remarkable Geri Allen is going to perform Mary Lou William’s Zodiac Suite, and the whole evening will be kicked off with Berlioz’ Carnival Overture.
More About Finney’s Prayer
Charles Finney occupies a fascinating place in 19th century American history as a leading revivalist, abolitionist, and the first president of Oberlin College. The concept for Finney’s Prayer comes from a a passage in his memoirs in which he describes the spiritual crisis which led to his conversion.
“I went to my dinner and found no appetite to eat. I went to the office and found that squire W___ had gone to dinner. I took down my bass-viol, and as I was accustomed to do, began to play and sing some pieces of sacred music. But as soon as I began to sing those sacred words, I began to weep. It seemed as if my heart was all liquid; and my feelings were in such a state that I could not hear my own voice in singing without causing my sensibility to overflow…”
Finney goes on to describe a mystical vision of Christ which filled him with such awe that he,
“cried out, ‘I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.’”
Finney’s Prayer (1998) portrays the contour of this experience from crisis to epiphany, peace to awe, and finally, relief. In developing this composition as a narrative structure, I have sought consciously to reference portrayals of transcendence as they are found in works by such composers as Messiaen, Tavener, and Pärt, with hopefully a strong dose of Flannery O’Connor’s insight that grace is, among other things, unsettling.