The Book of Revelation
for Soloists, Choir, and Full Orchestra
(Condensed Version for Soloists and Piano Available)
About 90 minutes (Condensed Version: About 35 minutes)
II. The Throne in Heaven
III. The Seven Seals
IV. The Seven Trumpets
V. The War in Heaven / The Two Beasts
VI. The Seven Vials
VII. The Fall of Babylon
IX. The Final Judgment
X. The New Heaven
The idea for The Book of Revelation came to me as early as 2009 or 2010. The detailed imagery and exciting narrative events have always struck me as extremely musical and begged to be set into a dramatic musical work. My earliest sketches for the work came in 2011 or 2012, but due to the size of the project I had envisioned, I set the idea aside for a while. I eventually returned to it in 2018, at which point I more or less started from scratch.
The Book of Revelation is written in 10 movements; however, the story isn’t quite told in a linear fashion. Based on some scholars’ analysis of Revelation, much of the text is the same story told several times from different perspectives. My approach to the music follows this idea. Movements 1 and 2 establish a pseudo introduction to Revelation while movements 9 and 10 constitute a coda. This leaves movements 3 through 7, where essentially several angles of the apocalyptic story of Revelation are told, more or less, simultaneously. Movement 8, while it technically continues and concludes the story from movement 7, also serves as a parallel codetta for all of the simultaneous stories from movements 3 through 6.
I felt this concept of simultaneity was best illustrated through reoccurring musical themes that illustrate many aspects of Revelation such as the characters, places, and events of the book. Some of the most prominent character themes include Jesus, Satan, and various figures like angels and demons, while some of the most prominent locational themes include Heaven, Earth, and New Jerusalem. Additionally, a significant number of the themes in the work illustrate specifically described events from the text. Notably, the destruction of the earth, the opening of God’s temple in heaven, and the fall of Babylon each have their own themes. All of these themes make frequent appearances throughout the work, some more than others, but all of them in multiple movements each. Contrarily, nearly every movement is also grounded by a theme exclusive to that movement, such as the “seven seals” theme for movement 3, or the “seven trumpets” theme for movement 4.
To describe these themes in detail would take many pages; however, it is worth mentioning that all of the themes fall into three categories of tonality that give them some semblance. First, all of the heavenly themes such as the Jesus or throne in Heaven theme, follow a modal or pandiatonic tonality. The modal quality alludes to a Renaissance church-like sound, while the pandiatonicism leads to an uplifting, pleasing, and clean sound. In contrast, the themes of death and evil are often octatonic or lack tonality altogether. Both octatonicism and atonality lead to a menacing and sometimes uncomfortable sound. Lastly, the themes representing earthly things are composed used mainly tonal, but chromatic, functional harmonies. This allows for a contrast from the other heavenly and dark themes. Additionally, the chromaticism helps to demonstrate the constant tension occurring on Earth as many of the events of Revelation unfold.
As a whole, The Book of Revelation hopes to musically illustrate, in some comprehensive capacity, the scripture of Revelation, as described to the apostle John nearly 1900 years ago. The text used for this work comes from the King James Version of the Bible first completed in 1611 and remains public domain in the United States of America. Lasting just under 90 minutes, this oratorio is scored for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, and Baritone Soloists, Choir, and a full orchestra consisting of triple woodwinds with standard doublings, full brass, timpani plus three percussionists, piano/celesta, harp, organ, and strings. The female soloists play a variety of roles mostly consisting of angels and various “voices of heaven,” while the tenor soloist exclusively portrays the role of John and the baritone soloist portrays both Jesus and God.
Score and parts available for purchase.
Perusal score available on request.
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