Divine power, lyrical tradition and the drama of modern human experience got explored via sound earlier this year when a Portland State University music major gave his senior composition recital at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northwest Portland.

Conor Weir, who has been active in the PSU Newman Center, wrote four pieces for the night, including an Easter Mass.

A brass quintet, including Weir on trumpet, played “Jubilant Spring,” which presents a journey from darkness to light. In program notes, Weir explained the piece moves through turmoil to beauty. “The dark periods form us into better human beings and deepen our appreciation for what is good in our lives,” he wrote.

“Depth of the Giants,” a stark and growling tuba solo played by Ryan Williamson, depicts the giants who appear in Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” a look at the consequence of sin. Parts of the piece represent one condemned soul who is wildly seeking fame.

A piano solo called “Sweetness in Sorrow” echoes Weir’s experience of the pandemic. “Even amid suffering and turmoil, life can still bear moments of sweetness and grace,” Weir wrote of the piece, which has four movements that embody loss, sadness and then hope. Lissa Halsinger played.

The finale of the evening was music from the “Mass of His Triumph,” meant for the Easter celebration.

“It was written for just such a place as this,” Weir told listeners before the music started. He urged the audience to look around the cathedral during the piece, noticing the holy paintings, stained glass and architecture. There was no liturgy, just the music with voice, organ, trumpet and bass trombone. Many in the pews were not Catholic and Weir explained the importance of Mass.

Early movements paid tribute to Gregorian chant and later a melody arrived that was sometimes veiled, sometimes explicit. Weir said the three note tune represents the Eucharist and is drawn from the typical notes that result when the human voice says the phrase “I love you.”

“I chose these words because Christ says them to us in both the Mass and with his whole life, and this love is manifested in the Eucharist,” Weir wrote. His own trumpet sounded the joyful notes that express the shock, fear and joy of the Resurrection of Jesus.