This work is based on my reflections after attending a Corpus Cristi procession at the Mission San Antonio de Pala in San Diego county. The service began with an outdoor mass, accompanied by the tolling bell of the mission, followed by a procession, accompanied by a fiddle player. We wound through the surrounding neighborhood, stopping at "tribute posts" where members of the parish had collected photographs and memorabilia of family members who had recently passed away. The tributes to the dead and the collision of religious and folk cultures lead me to reflect on universal themes of faith and spirituality.
The Procession opens with impressions of the fiddle player and tolling church bells. Repeating bell motives transform into phrases of a hymn played out of time against fiddle patterns in the violin. The middle two movements serve as musical "tribute posts" based on material from the opening movement. In the second movement, the tolling bells return blurred and out of sync, separated by romantic cadenzas in the violin and piano. The third movement shifts from unsettled introspection to poignant lyricism, beginning with a distorted version of the hymn tune from the first movement. In the final movement, the procession comes to an end with the return to the mission. The violin plays fiddle patterns set against chords in the piano that are serene at first and quickly become rhythmically intensified. The hymn theme returns, this time in tempo with the violin, leading to a climax of spiritual affirmation.
The Procession was commissioned by Martha Walvoord.
Martha Walvoord, violin
Nicholas Hutchinson, piano
Hope College, Holland, MI
Jan. 14, 2007