Ola Gjeilo’s Meridian


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Meridian is a piece written for piano, wind ensemble, and choir. Piano and winds (inc. brass and percussion) share the rhythmic and quick material, while the choir often has longer lines, either singing chords to accompany the winds, or sing a long, slow melody overtop. Specific words are hard to hear, and are in another language, but the word “Meridian” remains throughout the piece. The choir is optional, since all parts are also played in the winds, but it adds a depth not found in typical wind ensembles. Both the choir and piano are additions to the wind ensemble, but are neither accompaniment, nor soloists, instead, just creating a more diverse ensemble.

The piece is significantly based on ostinato, and there is nearly always a groove going, no matter what time signature the piece is in. Rarely is it in an even meter, and even when it is, the ostinato is never even, always with an extra beat thrown in (often the meter is , or some other odd numbered beat). Because the beats are not always even, the same ostinato pattern remains for lengths of music at a time before switching, so as to keep a recognizable groove. The piece introduces a relatively rare type of groove to classical music in this 7/8, 6/4, etc. time signatures.

Meridian is a relatively complicated piece, with multiple themes going on at once in many places. The upper winds often have the main melody, the lower winds have harmony and ostinato, piano has arpeggiated (or block) chords, and the choir has overarching melodies. The end effect of a combination of complexities is a very intense and aurally stimulating piece of music.

The middle sections are much less hectic and, like Strange Humors, provide moments of calm that revive the listener, making the fast and complex sections even more interesting and special. Here, the winds join the choir in longer, slower melodies, often taking the exact melody the choir just had. Because the choir is so often radically different, these moments of calm that use the themes of the choir connect the two groups together more convincingly. The melding of two general timbres, two stereotypical styles (winds faster and with more notes, and choir with longer, slower lines), and an offset ostinato creates a very unique piece of music.



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