Audio & Video. Dirksen’s notated half-note=96 is unplayable – he’s merely saying NOT TOO SLOW. But the circumstances of its composition actually dictate the tempo: the performance should be exactly 2′ 30″! Also – don’t miss the Choral Arts Society’s orchestral version here as well.
His first ‘outside’ commission – from St. Albans Church, next door on the Close.
His most well-known and well-beloved carol. SATB a capella, simplicity itself.
Audio & Video. One of the editor’s TOP FIVE works. How DID those troops of angels come down??
Audio & Video. For Easter Day. The B section is one of Dirksen’s longest and most effective build-ups to a shattering climax. It’s also a dandy timpani solo. Now back in print by Jubilate Music Group!
Audio & Video. Written in 1957, the same year as Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata, the two pieces share vivid brass writing and intense rhythmic energy alternating with lyric beauty. This exists in many forms: Organ and brass, full orchestra, winds only…there’s even an arrangement for SSAA choir.
These five Latin motets, along with the two sets of canons were written at various times for the men of Cathedral Choir to sing in the summers when the boys were away. This entry has all available recordings, plus a sizzling video from George Steel’s VOX in concert at the Guggenheim Museum.
From the 1961 York Cycle Play music. Also available as a movement in the 1965 Suite for Organ, Trumpet and Handbells (D. 513).
A haunting major / minor nocturne, suitable for unison or solo voices with optional flute obbligato.
These were commissioned by Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Wilmington, Delaware.
Audio & Video. Another one of my TOP FIVE works. The flute obbligato positively sparkles.
Composed for the wedding of John Fenstermaker, then Assistant Organist at the Cathedral. Flute, handbells, harpsichord, finger cymbals…. 6/4 alternating with 3/2….what’s not to like?
Theme is from Stravinsky’s Firebird, for a special dedication service.
Audio & Video. Running out of TOP FIVE slots, but this Auden setting is profoundly moving: Why was I chosen to teach his Son to weep? The ending of the organ version makes it preferable.
Really a sacred song – text by George Herbert – with optional obbligato instrument. For this commission Dirksen received ‘a case of excellent wine.’
This complex piece finds Dirksen systematically working out change ringing bell motifs at length as well as exploring his ongoing fascination with mixed and hemiola rhythms. The attached score is regrettably partial.
Audio & Video. A solo song from The Annunciation Story.
Commissioned by Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church for their 50th Anniversary in 1974.
Ineffably sweet. It ends in A major, a half-step down from where is starts. The orchestral double-reed / horn / string accompaniment is deluxe and has a gorgeous violin descant for the fourth verse.
Audio & Video. This nine-minute mini-cantata sets the complete Fortunatas text with organ, brass & timpani and would make a great addition to an Easter concert. Score+audio presentation is here, but it awaits a definitive recording.
Audio & Video. Alternates the 1940 plainsong for The eternal gifts of Christ the King with rushing horsemen on white horses. A commission from Frank Boles and St. Paul’s, Indianapolis.
A sweet a capella carol with Dirksen’s added verse bringing it up to date.
Audio & Video His last – and by his own estimation, best – anthem. The closing Queens Change bell effect is a charming farewell gesture.