Cloisters (1997)

for guitar solo, 12 minutes


Instrumentation: guitar solo

Recording: A Fiery and Still Night, Capstone (2006)


Based on a Gregorian chant melody (Salve Regina), the piece filters the entire melody through the prism of contemporary guitar techniques.





Program Notes:

Cloisters combines two musical style periods - medieval and contemporary - and two performance media - voice and solo guitar - in this fantasy on a Gregorian chant.  The practice of writing fantasies on pre-existing melodies is an ancient and venerable one, and still presents great challenges and possibilities to the composer.  The chant upon which this piece is based is a "Salve Regina" (“Hail, Holy Queen”), one of a famous group of chants known as Marian antiphons: chants in praise of the Virgin Mary.  The chant is presented in its entirety during the course of Cloisters.  At times, it is very clearly quoted; at others, it is more hidden, having been transformed through the prism of contemporary harmony, texture, and guitar techniques.  The co-existence and collision of these radically different styles and media creates the driving tension of the work. 


Cloisters is dedicated to Douglas Rubio, who premiered the work in the fall of 1997 at the University of San Diego, California.  Dr. Rubio has since recorded the work for Simpson’s CD of chamber music, "A Fiery and Still Night," for Capstone Records (2006).


--Andrew Earle Simpson

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