Limina Luminis for Organ Solo by Olivia Belli.
Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and first performed by Anna Lapwood at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 July 2023 as part of the 2023 BBC Proms.
Dedicated to Anna Lapwood.
Duration: 5 minutes
“Limina Luminis” means “Threshold of Light”; it is a metaphorical and spiritual journey towards light which for me represents the symbol of knowledge and understanding. It may compare to the “Overview Effect”: the cognitive change perceived by many astronauts when they look at the Earth from space for the first time. Psyche, emotionality and spirituality seem overwhelmed by the dramatic change of perspective that occurs during space travel in Earth's orbit or towards the Moon, when our world suddenly appears as a fragile sphere in the immensity of the Universe. A unique and rare place that is our home, the home of all humanity, without territorial borders and social, racial or religious divisions.
The piece describes a space-time vortex, an ascent towards a light - the origin of knowledge - metaphorically represented by the high C that suddenly appears pianissimo at the top of a long dynamic crescendo. The first part of the piece consists of a spiral of sextuplets that repeats itself in a loop and drags a melody upwards, first presented in long notes in the low notes of the pedalboard, and then unwinding, gradually more and more moved, up to the highest registers of the organ. At the climax of the crescendo, the acute C in pianissimo remains suspended, in fact, the symbol of light; after which, in the form of a Chorale, in a static and religious climate, the harmonic scheme that informs the entire composition resounds; then, in staccato, the skeleton of the melody resurfaces; finally the high C, left alone, closes the piece. (Olivia Belli, May 2023)