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Compositions By Anthony Mark LaMort
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Essex Canon

This brief work was composed as a processional for a service of clerical installation. Originally conceived as a piece for brass quintet, the orchestration took on a life of its own. This work is essentially variations on a ground base, written, somewhat uncharacteristically for me, in a more or less Baroque style. All instrumental sounds are realized with the Kurzweil K-250 sampling synthesizer. Scores for this work and the others on this site are available.

Deo Gracias

The name of this perambulatory section is taken from the title of a 15th century English hymn tune. Perhaps serving as a (largely unintentional!) insight into my compositional thought process, the ‘Deo Gracias’ movement began as the opening section of an organ symphony based on that same 15th century tune. The organ symphony alas never developed past the extemporaneous stages (although I may revisit it some day, so much am I captivated by the tune!) but the opening section found its way here. If Handel can borrow from himself, I feel I am entitled to do the same! The entire ‘Music of the Spheres’ Suite is rendered with the aid of the Kurzweil K-250 sampling synthesizer, although the actual score indicates ‘true’ acoustic instruments, except in places where it is quite obvious I am intending something ‘otherworldly’.


Mercury, the first planet in our solar system is named for the ‘Messenger of the Gods’. As such Mercury is associated with velocity and motion. I have attempted to convey that through the use of looping sequences. As with all of the ‘Sphere’ movements, I take my symbolic cues from Greco-roman myth as well as the (perhaps stereotypical) way we have been taught to think of the planets. Mercury is thought to be barren and being closest to the sun, unbearably hot. Assuming we could overcome the limitations of human frailty, what might it be like to visit such a landscape? Would we find beauty in the glaring starkness? What thoughts would cross our minds?


The saxophone is perhaps all too obvious in the opening bars of the ‘Venus’ movement; but then as Aphrodite was as much about intrigue, betrayal, and unfathomable mystery as she was about the pleasures of eros, so the sultry strains give way to a core of discordant tonal mystery. I leave to the philosophers among my hearers to discern where Venus’ true beauty and greatest attraction lie – in the comforts of love or in the tumultuous and often deadly mysteries of her unknowable heart.


Here we come to what is described in the Book of Common Prayer, ‘Earth, our fragile, island home.’ To the best of our knowledge at the time of this writing, the only planet that sustains life, and thus the only one possessed of a common consciousness and the ability to know itself and contemplate its own creation and Creator. I have attempted to write a ‘human’ melody underscored by the use of choir, here again emulated with Kurzweil K-250. This is the second time in this suite I employ the scalar ‘Deo Gracias’ theme, one which for me serves as a leitmotif for creation.


Was there ever life on the red planet? And if so, what became of it? ‘Mars’ is the most directly symbolic of these movements. The piece is marked with a menacing ostinato that for me symbolizes the machinations of, in the words of one hymn, ‘warring madness.’ As the sonic ‘clutter’ and tension build, a kind of mock battle call is heard repeatedly over the growing confusion. The ostinato and the battle call are brought to an abrupt end by a kind of musical destruction. Moments of bleak, near shapeless atonality follow, only to be interrupted by the return of war’s relentless theme. To (loosely) paraphrase Einstein, ‘I don’t know what kind of weapons will be used to fight WW III. Bt I can well imagine what manner of weapons will be used to fight WW IV: stones, clubs, sticks…’


The asteroid belt orbiting beyond Mars serves, in my imagination, an appropriately formidable gateway to the realm of the gas giants. The first and greatest of which is Jupiter, a world so large that scientists believe with additional mass it might have become a star in it’s own right. Indeed, Jupiter’s entourage of numerous worldlets renders it almost a planetary system unto itself. In this movement, as in the other ‘Sphere’s’ movements I have attempted to depict both the planet and the mythological deity. The Jove of legend is a capricious and all too human entity full of jealousy, vengefulness, lust, and oddly, an abiding love of life. This is perhaps the closest to a ‘pop’ movement, employing rock drums and electric distortion guitar.


Second only to Jupiter in unfathomable size is perhaps the most picturesque and surely the most recognizable of the planets, the ‘Old Man of the Skies,’ Saturn. As in the Jupiter movement, I employ several imitative and fugal themes, attempting once again to create an ethos that takes its cue from legend, and to depict the characteristics, much as we can know of them, of the planet in question. Saturn as is true of the other three gas giants, is though beautiful when viewed from our terrestrial vantage point, a most inhospitable world filled with storms that could swallow a continent whole, violent extremes of temperature and crushing gravitational pressures.

Neptune and Uranus

We move further and further away from our ‘island home’ and know less and less of the worlds that lie towards the edge of the known solar system. What mysteries do these gaseous giants hold? Will mankind someday, as the explorers of old, with boldness to overcome all trepidation, visit these distant worlds. Will we claim them for our own? Tame them as we have tamed so much of our Earth’s surface? Sail through their vaporous ‘seas’ as readily as we sail across the ocean or soar through our own stratosphere?


Pluto, with its eccentric orbit is only sometimes the farthest ‘planet’ from Sol. Now demoted from its earlier status the former planet named for the god of the underworld plods relentlessly onward along its centuries long orbit, unconcerned with its human designation. From Pluto the Sun is only an uncommonly bright star, the other planets mere pinpricks of light, ‘a great gulf that no one may cross’ set between its dark, lonely existence, and the ‘true’ pantheon of planets. How ironic then that Hades stands as the final outpost before the infinite luminescence present in what the Book of Common Prayer calls the ‘vast expanse of interstellar space.’


Again, and for the final time I return to the ‘Deo Gracias’ theme… probably to suggest the notion of creation, ‘as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…’

A friend once suggested that this composer what born in the wrong time – that I would have been happier before the frontier was pushed back to the Pacific ocean by manifest destiny; or even before the earth’s continents were known to cartographers. I agree, in some ways, but would add, that if that is the case, I was born too late and too early. All of us in our generations stand poised between the frontiers – just a little too late to be a part of exploring the last earthly frontiers, and far too early to explore the frontiers beyond the ‘surly bonds of earth’. So I content myself exploring the distant shores of the sonic universe and endeavor to traverse the frontiers of mind and spirit.

Scores for these works and others may be obtained by contacting the composer.

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