Alleluia —2015

a word of celebration and reflection

This driving piece features a constant motor of sixteenth-note rhythms. This motor begins by spelling out the word “alleluia” letter-for-letter in playful, syncopated fashion, building complex chords when added to other parts doing the same; later it borrows part of the word (“Alle – alle – alle”) for a series of upward and downward swoops. Layered over the top of this rhythmic tapestry are long, lyrical melodies — set to the word “alleluia” in its entirety — that shine clearly and resoundingly. These two musical modes offer two different takes on the nature of the word: joyous and celebratory, and serene and reflective. The memorable ending finds the high voices settling after an  upward swoop and the low voices resting after a final syncopated motor rhythm, each contentedly on a different but highly complementary chord. — notes by conductor Paul Rardin


The program continued Mendelssohn’s mini-commissioning series of pieces written to the word Alleluia in honor of retired artistic director Alan Harler. For Sunday’s program, James Primosch and Robert Maggio delivered works that felt completely self contained but are full of ideas that should be continued into larger works.

Maggio’s just as individualistic Alleluia had more familiar points of references, however distant ones, starting with an ebullient rhythmic foundation that could have been inspired by some Polynesian fertility rite. Of course, any such set-up is going to prompt contrasting, longer-breathed melodies to highlight the propulsion, and Maggio did so with much invention – so much that it’s safe to say the composer was carried away in the best possible sense.

— David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

The two local composers were limited to short pieces on a one-word text but they proved to be just as inventive as the British team. James Primosch built his Alleluia on a ground, a bass melody that is repeated as the piece runs through a series of variations. Robert Maggio unified his salute to Alan Harler with a rhythmic pattern rather than a melody.

Both composers possess a good feel for interesting closures. Maggio’s “Alleluia” reached a climax with an increase in intensity rather than volume. Primosch finished with a burst from the sopranos followed by a quiet ending.

— Tom Purdom, Broad Street Review