A Gathering of Angels/Bolero for Orchestra (1989) was commissioned by The Knoxville Symphony, Kirk Trevor, Music Director, and premiered in May, 1989. Celebratory in charcter, the work is based on a passage form Book III of John Milton’s Paradise Lost:
The Multitude of Angels, with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices, uettering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud hosannas filled the eternal regions.
Scored for large orchestra with handbell choir, Rodriguez’ bolero casts the characteristic Spanish dance rhythm (long, short, short, short; long, short, short, short; long, long, etc.) in 3/2 meter and superimposes it over melodies in three contrasting meters representing the various orders of angels. At the opening, percussion and strings, bouncing their bows, suggest the distant beating of angels’ wings. As the angels approach, high woodwinds, in 12/8, lead the orchestra in a mighty, downwind crescendo drawn from a theme form Rodriguez’ 1978 opera, Le Diable Amoureux (a passage in the opera depicting the fall of Lucifer’s rebellious angels from Heaven). A pianissimo interruption announces the first of three Thirteenth-century Cantigas – or songs of praise to the Virgin Mary from the collection of King Alfonso X, “The Wise,” of Castille – in 4/4 and 6/4, which are quoted and intertwined in typically Medieval layers of increasing structural complexity as the short work builds to its conclusion.
A Gathering of Angels is one of several scores in which Rodriguez has woven Medieval melodies into his musical textures or drawn inspiration from Medieval texts. In addition to Le Diable Amoureux, the series includes the comic opera, Sour Isabella (1982), the orchestral Favola Boccaccesca (1979), the ballet, Estampie (1981); the cantatas, Canto (1973) and Transfigurationis Mysteria (1980) and several smaller works.