Enigma for brass choir and organ and was written for the dedication of the Red Cedar Organ in the Michigan State University Alumni Chapel. The Red Cedar Organ was made possible by the generosity of Ed and Wanda Eichler, and I am grateful for their vision to build this beautiful instrument on our campus.
Enigma comes from a Greek word that means “to speak in riddles,” and in this piece, the riddle—or theme—is revealed gradually. The theme comes from the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, which is one of my favorite pieces of music, and, once the theme is revealed, it is repeated cyclically with 21 variations, just like in Bach’s original. This piece is dedicated to my former teacher, José-Luis Maúrtua, a composer, theorist, conductor, and teacher at Central Michigan University, who also completed a second doctorate in orchestral conducting at Michigan State University. José-Luis was an extraordinary musician and teacher who was tirelessly dedicated to his students and to pushing them to do their best. I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned from him, and my music and my life are far better for having known him. Unfortunately, he was taken from this earth far too young—at the age of 57—by pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2022. I miss him dearly, and this music is for him.