Rays of Hope

PROGRAM NOTES FROM “RAYS OF HOPE,” commissioned by Rick and June Swartz in honor of Ray McLellan; composed by Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, dedicated to Ray McLellan, 2021.


To honor Ray McLellan’s musical gifts and kind spirit, Rick and June Swartz presented Ray with a gift of a musical commission. When Ray emailed to invite me to compose the commissioned work, I was honored to write a work for my esteemed colleague and friend. I emailed Ray to ask what theme he would like me to feature. Distanced, masked, and outside the Lurie Carillon Tower (University of Michigan) one cold day in late 2020, we discussed how it felt to be in the midst of a pandemic, polarized politics, and social viruses of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. Ray indicated that he longed for music that fosters hope and peace.

Soon thereafter, the title “Rays of Hope” came to me–a play on words with Ray’s name, and also a metaphor of hope radiating from person to person like sunrays. Ray and I agreed that we wanted the piece to be inclusive, in two versions for carillon and one for organ, two instruments Ray plays and has played for decades. To make the piece inclusive for all organs and carillons, I composed it in modes suitable for all tuning-temperament systems, including meantone, and created three versions to accommodate different sized instruments (G- and C-compass).

“Rays of Hope” opens with an “Overture of Hope,” followed soon by an imitative section in which “Hope Leads to Peaceful Action.” The central section of the overture, “Fostering Hope and Peace,” features an upbeat rhythm that outlines the pitches of the forthcoming fugue subject which appears after the reprise of the stately overture. I composed a “stile antico” fugue–powerful and clear on carillons and organs alike–that represents “Peace Through the Ages.”