Prelude and Meditation on Coventry Cathedral
For Trumpet and Organ (1978)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 10 minutes

     This is a demanding and rich tapestry inspired not by a tune called "Coventry Cathedral", but by the building itself. The old cathedral was bombed in 1941, leaving only the walls standing. In the 1950s a new, modern building was erected beside the old, having a multi-storey clear window separating the two. In this glass are carved life-size saints and angels, so that you can look through them and see the ruin of the old edifice. It is such a powerful sight, and John Hutton's etched figures in the glass are so haunting, that I have sat and stared at them for hours at a time - and of course music eventually emerged.

     The score to the 'Prelude' section is partly graphic, requiring the players to interpret drawings, lines and other non-musical symbols. Instructions are provided in the score. This section is atonal and expressively dissonant. The 'Meditation' section (originally entitled 'Pastorale') was actually written before I had seen Coventry, but somehow it seemed to fit. It is a lovely passacaglia, relatively tonal and refreshing after the drama of the first part. The Meditation was first performed by Wendy Grasdahl, with Sharon Beckstead playing the organ, and the whole is dedicated to Wendy.

     The piece was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a noon-hour concert in 1980, and later broadcast. Alvin Lowry, trumpet, and Bruce Wheatcroft, organ, premiered the entire work in All Saints' Cathedral, Edmonton.

     An MP3 exists (not a great quality recording unfortunately), and it may be heard by clicking below. The score may be obtained also be clicking below (free of charge). My only requirement is that you send me the details of any performances so that I can keep this site up-to-date.