Listening Page #47: Austin Jaquith

OCTOBER 26, 2008

Austin Jaquith: Magnificat (a meditation) performed by Rachel Beetz, Flute; Ann Corrigan, Oboe; Marianne Shifrin, Clarinet; Selena Yamamoto, Bassoon; Eric Jackson, Horn; Max Tholenaar-Maples, Percussion; Nick Stone, Percussion; Ah-Rim Ahn, Harp; Thomas Rogers, Violin; Caleb Mossburg, Violin; Jane Jaquith, Viola; Linsey Rogers, Viola; Alice Corey, Cello; Sarah Kidd, Cello; Evan Spieker, Bass; Sally Freeland, Soprano; Austin Jaquith, Conductor

Listen to an mp3 recording of this work by clicking this link: Jaquith.mp3


The Magnificat text has inspired countless artists, and with this composition I contribute yet another work written under its influence.  In composing this work I tried to capture two elements of the text.  The first is its pure religious devotion.  I portrayed this with relatively simple, but free vocal lines which emphasized consonant intervals, and clear shape and phrasing.  Although the textures become quite complex at times, the foundational vocal material always emanates from an underlying gesture of simplicity.  The second element I tried to capture was the awe and wonder that comes across as Mary delivers this prayer of thanksgiving.  I tried to represent the emotional material not only with textures, gestures, harmonies, etc., but also with pacing. I allowed each line of text to unfold, unfettered as it where, by any other line.  Each line then is treated thoroughly. Every thought, expression, and impulse is captured from a different angle with each repetition.  Although a great deal of attention was paid to the development of each line, I also wanted the text’s unity to come across.  To this end, each textual and musical section, although being self contained, always intimates the necessity of the next section.  As the composition progresses, these links become stronger and stronger until the dramatic line “Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles” (“He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree”) is climactically stated.  For dramatic purposes, the remainder of the text winds down musically until the traditional statement of the lesser doxology, which is delivered in a chant-like manner with musical material reminiscent of the beginning.

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm.
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things.
And the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel
as he promised to our forefathers Abraham, and his seed forever.

My Christian faith was born at the age of five when I decided that I wanted to give my life to God and be forgiven of my sinful nature.  My conversion experience owes a lot to listening to the radio program “Unshackled,” which featured the conversion stories of various people that had found God at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.  My understanding of my own faith has a number of dimensions, as I am sure it has for you, but I would like to mention two essentials.  First, I believe that Jesus Christ is responsible for my salvation, and my forgiveness comes from his self-sacrifice two thousand years ago.  I believe the Bible to the word of God, and that it is accurate and authoritative.  Simply put, these are my basic assumptions when I approach any matter of faith.

Austin Jaquith, a native Californian, began studying composition in High School with Jack Perla in Oakland, CA.  Collegiate studies began at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Dr. Margaret Brouwer, where he received a B.M. in composition.  In Cleveland his works were performed by the Biava Quartet, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and the Parma Symphony.  In 2003, he was accepted as a M.M. candidate in Composition at the Moores School of Music, where he studied with Robert Smith.  While at the Moores School, he received the Seraphim composition prize, for his String Quartet No. 2, and participated in the Regional SCI conference in San Antonio in 2005.  In the fall of 2005, he began studies at Indiana University in the D.M. program at IU and has studied with David Dzubay, Chinary Ung, Richard Wernick, Claude Baker, and P.Q. Phan.  His String Quartet No. 3 won several honors including the IU Jacobs School of Music Kuttner String Quartet Competition in 2006, the AFMC Emil and Ruth Bayer Composition Competition in the chamber music category in 2007, and was also selected to be performed as part of the 2007 Midwest Composers Symposium.  In addition to composition, Austin enjoys playing the piano, cycling, and serving as the worship pastor at the Greene County Chapel in Indiana.

– – –  SOLI DEO GLORIA!  – – –

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If you are a member composer interested in submitting a composition for an upcoming monthly CFAMC listening page, please contact Bill Vollinger at:

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