David Davies’ (’01) composition, The Wordless Book, was one of only 12 compositions out of over 200 submissions to be selected for performance at the College Music Society’s International Conference held in Argentina this past June. Davies, assistant professor of composition studies at Houghton College, was the only composer present from a Council of Christian Colleges & Universities institution.
The Wordless Book is a suite for piano in four movements inspired by a tool for teaching the Christian gospel to children developed by Charles Spurgeon in 1866. The “book” consists of colored pages, each representing different aspects of the Gospel. Spurgeon’s original book contained the colors black, representing sin; red, representing Christ’s blood; and white, representing cleansing. Modern versions often contain green, representing new life, and gold, representing heaven.
Davies explains, “For my setting of the book I used black, red, white, and green. The movements are not programmatic, but are meant to be musical reflections on the book’s themes. Each of the four movements is in a contrasting style and can be performed separately, in part, or as a suite. This work was composed for my wife, Carrie, who gave its first public performance at Augustana College in 2007.”
It was again Carrie Blythe Davies (’01) who performed the suite for this year’s conference.
The composition has been performed extensively throughout the United States. In 2010 the work won the Juried Music Prize from the International Arts Movement and was performed at IAM’s Encounter ‘10 in the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City.