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Tournemire Voyage 2

Thanks to the researches of american musicologist, Robert Sutherland Lord, who had identified the more than 300 plainchants Tournemire had woven into his cycle; and the considerable help of the Sisters of St Mary's Convent in Wantage, I was able to study the sung texts and gain a fuller understanding of Tournemire's musical interpretations of them, as he created the Roman Catholic equivalent of J.S Bach's 'Orgelbüchlein' for the Lutheran Church. Also Tournemire's love of the sea, gothic cathedrals, mystical literature and the Symbolist paintings of Gustav Moreau, provided a treasury of sources for me to, literally, draw on.

The 51 image sequences are arranged as triptychs, with folding wings like altarpieces

                                                                                                     Introit                                                                  Élévation

Tournemire became  organist at Ste. Clotilde in 1898, the same year that the Turin Shroud was first photographed, revealing in the negative, that compelling countenance, whatever its origin may be! Tournemire hung a print of it in his organ loft, visible in the background of the photo on the left. It appears 3 times in my image cycle, as do Ste. Cloltilde and Tournemire himself.

      Offertoire               Postlude/Sortie        Communion             

The 5 movements of each Office were designed to be played at the appropriate intervals during the High Mass when plainchant was still sung in french churches. But sung chant has gone in and out of favour and is rarely to be heard in the Mass these days.

I began my cycle where Tournemire began his, with the Office for Easter Sunday (above).  Following many trials and errors, it took a full year to complete. One of those initial attempts, the only one I kept (left), with the stone rising from the tomb rather than being rolled, became, in the final version, a study of a real stone from the beach, doubling for an egg splitting to release the new life, commanded by a spectral angel within a forest/cathedral. 30 years on, I realise, I prefer the earlier, simpler image!  

Once the first triptych was completed, the other 50 began to flow...

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