Worshipful Company / 2023
a book of wordless chorales for violin and piano


Performed by the Bennardo-Larson Duo.

Chorales are elemental. They are formed from a single melody, traditionally taken from a hymn or song, and supported by other voices which all move uniformly together. Due to their simple and rudimentary design, chorales are often used as pedagogical tools for young students to study part writing, harmony, and form. But the chorales written by Bach and other composers of the past were not conceived as exercises, but rather to communicate biblical texts, like psalms, in vernacular settings that were simple enough for large congregations of amateur musicians to sing. Chorales interest me because they are functional yet deeply aesthetic. They have what the potter and writer Alison Britton might call a “double presence.”

The expression of "Worshipful Company” ranges from the solemnity of ancient liturgical music to the sentimentality of modern Catholic hymns to the innocence of music theory homework. Like the first chorales written by Martin Luther, they are structurally simple and immediate in expression. But they are without words, and not sung but rather bowed and hammered. Why this music for violin and piano registers as "sung" is a reminder that the voice is the substance of so many things.