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Meditation on "Steal Away"

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (03/10/15)
Composer: Cooper, William B.
Sample Producer: Milan Digital Audio
Sample Set: Salisbury Cathedral Father Willis
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Modern
Description:
William B. Cooper (1920-1993) was born in Philadelphia and received his BM and MM from Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, and an honorary DMA from Columbia Pacific University. In 1988 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Music from Christ Theological Seminary in Yonkers, NY. He pursued additional studies at the School of Sacred Music of Union Theological Seminary (NYC), the Manhattan School of Music, and Trinity College, London.

He served on the faculties of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. In addition, he taught for 26 years in the NYC public schools. He was Organist and Choirmaster of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem from 1953 to 1974, and at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, also in Harlem from 1974 to 1989. His musical output, which is considerable, consists of works for organ, voice, chorus, orchestra, and ballet.

"Meditation on 'Steal Away'" was published in 1996 by the E. C. Schirmer Music Company in Boston. Like the Grant "Elegy", it is part of the ECS/AGO African-American Organ Series. It is a highly unusual setting of the well-known spiritual!

The music, is highly dissonant, but if listened to a few times, becomes very appealing - at least it did to me as I learned and recorded over the last 2 days. The tune is always played in the pedal, but it's not the sort of "pretty piece" that we often associate with "arrangements" of spirituals and old southern folk-hymns. The music seems to "plod" - almost a death march, or a march to Calvary. The ending is surprising and striking.

For those who say they do NOT like contemporary music, please give this a few listens before passing judgment!

The music is highly moving, IF you allow yourself to be moved...
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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