Alumnus and music sessional instructor Dr. Brendan Lord (BMus ’00) was awarded the National Choral Award for Best Dissertation, presented by Choral Canada at its biennial Podium 2014 conference in Halifax on May 19. Brendan’s dissertation, titled Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year, and Other Works for Chorus and Keyboard, was successfully defended in September 2013.
Brendan is also the Executive Director of the Alberta Choral Federation, and Director of Music at McDougall United Church in Edmonton.
Brendan supplied a copy of the abstract from his dissertation for reference:
Known primarily for his success as a composer of opera, Jonathan Dove is gaining notoriety for his music for chorus and keyboard. He describes this music as modal and rhythmic, taking its inspiration from the classical music of North India and the American minimalist styles that developed during the 1960s and 1970s. The resultant post-minimalist style is both accessible and highly expressive.
Of the eight pieces in Dove’s oeuvre for chorus and keyboard, seven are settings of sacred texts for chorus and organ, and one piece, The Passing of the Year, is a setting for double chorus and piano of works by various English poets. Written in 2000, the seven-movement choral cycle The Passing of the Year encapsulates Dove’s compositional language for chorus and keyboard and thus forms the core of this paper. The works for choir and organ are also explored via their shared and, in some instances, expanded palette of compositional techniques.
Through an interview with Jonathan Dove, analysis of the scores, and a review of the small body of literature about his music, this study seeks to identify and describe the compositional elements which synthesize to form Dove’s distinctive compositional language. In addition, the author will share insights gained with respect to Dove’s musical influences and intentions, and will provide a discussion of each of the movements in The Passing of the Year.