QUEEN OF HEAVEN recording now available

Kari Johnson’s recording of Queen of Heaven is now available for streaming and purchase on Irritable Hedgehog’s website! Digital download alone is $5, CD (and instant download) $7… and as with all of Irritable Hedgehog’s recordings, you can listen online for free.

Many thanks to Kari and the Irritable Hedgehog family for all of the work that they put into this recording. It sounds simply amazing!

Queen of Heaven recording

Exciting news: Queen of Heaven will be recorded in August by Kari Johnson for a late 2011 release on Irritable Hedgehog!

Kari is, of course, the pianist who both commissioned and premiered the work, so it is fantastic that she will be able to make the first recording of it as well. She has a recording of the premiere performance posted (at least for the moment) on her SoundCloud page here, if you’d like to hear more than the two movements I’ve posted on my own. It was a very demanding piece to write, and very rewarding as it came together, and Kari has been completely wonderful to work with throughout the whole process.

Details forthcoming, but you can watch Irritable Hedgehog’s Twitter and Facebook pages for updates on this and other great projects. Seems they always have something interesting up their prickly sleeves…

Queen of Heaven, April 16 (premiere)

Queen of Heaven (piano and electronics)
@ KcEMA: Unity
Saturday, April 16, 7:30pm
Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO
Kari Johnson, piano; Richard Johnson, electronics

$10, students $5

More information:

Unity Temple on the Plaza
707 West 47th Street
Kansas City, Missouri

Program note:
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been an object of devotion and a source of comfort and inspiration to Christians from the earliest years of their history. Throughout this time, many artists and musicians have dedicated their efforts to her reverence, adding their voices to the generations who have ever called her “blessed.”

Each of the five movements of Queen of Heaven is in a sense conceived as an icon: each concerns itself with a single idea, turning it over and over, meditating on it from different angles. The first movement, “Hail, Holy Queen,” imagines the greeting of the Virgin by the hosts of angels, in enormous, sonorous and terrifying voices like immense chimes. The second and fourth movements each take their inspiration from titles for Mary: “Full-of-Grace” from kecharitomene, the Greek word of greeting spoken by the Archangel Gabriel in Luke 1:28; and “The-One-Who-Gives-Birth-To-God” from Theotokos, an ancient Mariological title used in liturgical contexts. These two are divided by “The Unburnt Bush,” based on an icon of the same title that connects the Virgin and the burning bush of Exodus, as expressed in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “Let us honor the Pure Theotokos! She accepted the Fire of Divinity in her womb but was not consumed!” The fifth and final movement returns to the heavenly setting of the first, now drawing its imagery from Revelation 12: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”