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Volume 24, Number 5 — May 2017

Artistic Reflections II: Bob Greene, Jr.

Bob Greene, Jr. in his studio.
Bob Greene, Jr. in his studio.
Additional photos below »

By Angela Wampler | December 24, 2007

Bob Greene, Jr. is the organist for State Street United Methodist Church in Bristol. "My fellow composers and I viewed the art collection — first as a slide show, then 'up close and personal' with some of the works themselves," he recalled. "The collection contains works from the Renaissance to the 20th century. It is the more contemporary works that speak to me personally. The works of earlier time periods carried with them, in my ear, the music of their time. While I could have written a 'period' piece in an earlier musical style to match one of these works, I decided my truest voice lay in the present day. As soon as I saw the set of twelve lithographs entitled 'Knights of the Round Table: The Apostles' by Salvador Dali, I knew right away they were the ones I wanted to reflect musically. Much of my composing is centered around religious themes because of my own personal religious faith. The idea of composing a set of twelve short musical sketches, each one attempting to capture some attribute of one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus, appealed to me very much."

He continued, "While there are similarities, each composing project is a little different. Inspiration comes most often from necessity. The search for 'just the right piece' for this or that occasion has led me to produce much of what I've written. After making my artwork selection for the Artistic Reflections project, my next step was research. I wanted to learn as much as I could about Dali and this set of lithographs in particular, and I also wanted to learn about the lives of each of the twelve Apostles. I soon determined that if I were going to present a piece with twelve movements on a concert program featuring several other composers, I obviously couldn't make any of the movements too long. Dali's artwork has a sketch-like quality to it, so a sketch-like quality in the music made sense as well."

Greene knew that First Presbyterian Church, the venue where Artistic Reflections II will be performed, houses a fine pipe organ. He said, "As I am an organist, it made sense to compose these sketches for the organ, and thereby create a collection of pieces which may be of interest to other organists. Another decision I made was to compose each movement in a different key...reflecting the milieu of Dali's life and times, not to mention his own unorthodox style."

Another of Greene's works on the program is called "You Are the World's
Beginning," a vocal solo using words from a Jewish prayer book. While baritone Mark Davis sings, and Greene accompanies him on the piano, landscape paintings from the King College collection will be displayed, depicting the rich imagery of the text.

READ ON:

ANN HOLLER teaches piano and is a lecturer in music at King College in Bristol.
BETH McCOY of Abingdon, Va. directs the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy and is a diaconal minister in the United Methodist Church.
EVELYN PURSLEY-KOPITZKE was previously featured in "The Arts as Therapy" (August 2007) edition of A! Magazine for the Arts.
— - JANE PERRY teaches piano and composes music, although she has been deaf since about age two.

PLUS:

Q & A with the composers.




Bob Greene's compositions were inspired by twelve lithographs entitled "Knights of the Round Table: The Apostles" by Salvador Dali. Shown are two of those prints, above and below.