Benjamin Johnson

photo of Ben Johnson
Benjamin Johnson

Music  |  Electrical Engineering

Music Capstone Project:

“Sancte Michael: A Study of Composition of Sacred Music”

My task for this semester was to compose a work about 6 minutes in length using the text of the St. Michael Prayer, which was written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. This prayer is a Catholic prayer to St. Michael, asking for his intercession to God for protection against evil. It is usually said at the end of low Masses. In keeping with the themes of the text, I decided to compose a fast, dramatic piece. Because I envisioned this as a work that could possibly be performed in the Catholic community here at Brown, I decided to make the tonality and style relatively conventional and palatable to a general audience, taking some notes from baroque, romantic, and even film music. The work is scored for musicians that I was confident Brown’s Catholic community could provide: a string quartet, SATB choir, and pipe organ. The work roughly follows ternary form, with a tense opening, a more relaxed section in the middle with solos for the choir members, a chaotic development of the first themes, and a raucous restatement of the opening theme at the end.

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Personal Statement:

Special thanks to Katherine Winterstein, Lois Finkel, Mark Seto, and Consuelo Sherba for guiding me through my music career at Brown and keeping my passion for the arts alive!