The War in Heaven
for Full Orchestra
3 Flutes (Piccolo), 3 Oboes, 3 Clarinets (Bass Clarinet), 3 Bassoons (Contrabassoon)
4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba
Timpani, 3 Percussion, Piano, Harp, and Strings
Premiered by The Florida Orchestra, February 2022 on their 2021-2022 Masterworks Series
Winning Composition for The Florida Orchestra's 2019 Student Composer Competition:
Three performances scheduled for May 2020 cancelled due to Covid-19.
Ever since first reading the book of Revelation, I have always been captivated by the imagery of the text. Such ideas as the seven trumpets, the four horseman of the apocalypse, and the rapture have fascinated me for many years. On the brink of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, I thought this would be the perfect time to compose a new orchestral work.
Beethoven had some history of incorporating religious ideas into his music in addition to writing explicitly sacred works, such as his Mass in C Major. Beethoven is perhaps best known for the religious influence in the famous final movement of his ninth symphony with the “Ode to Joy” text. This text makes references to the “Heavenly One,” “a loving Father,” and even refers directly to “God.” Musically, I have always been drawn to the way Beethoven uses rhythms, both straight and with syncopation. In the third movement of his ninth symphony, the scherzo, Beethoven uses primarily straight forward rhythms but with a driving and exhilarating character. In the finale, syncopation becomes a huge compositional tool that drives the whole symphony to a close.
With my piece, The War in Heaven, I sought to include these two aspects of Beethoven’s work—the religious underpinnings and the importance of rhythm. The specific war that my piece refers to occurs in chapter 12 of the book of Revelation. Here, a dragon (Satan), follows Jesus into Heaven after he ascends from the earth. The angels in Heaven, led by the archangel Michael, fight the dragon to send it back to earth. Upon their success, the dragon seeks to ruin the earth, but the people on earth (the church) prevail. In order to best capture these events in music, I made use of driving rhythms and highly syncopated rhythmic accents to create the feeling of war.