Saturday 7 August 2021 (7.30pm)
Wellington Cathedral of Saint Paul
Sunday 8 August 2021
Venue and time to be confirmed
Hopkins — Parry — MacMillan — Whitacre — Artley — Symanowski
Past Life Melodies — the opening melody came to Sarah Hopkins during a time of deep grief and immediately it was a melody of profound connection, known and remembered, as though it were a song from a past lifetime. “The aboriginal inspired chant sang through me in Darwin, as if there was an old aboriginal woman chanting deep inside me.” Past Life Melodies includes a section of “harmonic overtone singing” where individual voices sing two notes at the same time: a low note and a very high and ethereal tone.
I Was Glad — Sir Hubert Parry’s ridiculously glorious anthem I Was Glad has appeared at almost every major ceremony for the British Royal family since its composition in 1902. Again, the metaphor of Jerusalem both as England and as Heaven are apparent, and the petition-”pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” intended as a prayer for England herself.
James MacMillan’s A New Song is a short and effective anthem which combines a number of stylistic elements including inflections of both Scottish ballads and plainsong. It is simply constructed in ABABA from with a wonderfully positive organ postlude that ideally needs an instrument with sizeable resources to be properly effective. It has Taveneresque pedal points that are also reminiscent of bagpipe drones. The vocal parts in the imitative B sections include MacMillan’s favourite kind of vocal ornamentation — a notated quick-fire turn with varying numbers of notes.
Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre is a shimmering example of the composer’s trademark close-knit harmonies, this also represents one of his “contemporary Latin” settings: here, of Charles Anthony Silvestri’s Latin translation of a poem in English by the (otherwise obscure) Edward Esch, which attracted Whitacre for its “genuine, elegant simplicity.”
Also by Whitacre, Little Birds is an homage to Gabriel Faure, with its running piano part and fluid sensual melodies. At the end of the piece the conductor claps his/her hands and all of the singers shake a piece of white paper into the air, emulating the sound of a tree full of birds taking flight.
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes by New Zealand Composer Chris Artley (NZ composer) — broad melodic arches and an enchanting sensuousness of sound characterize Chris Artley’s setting of Psalm 121. He sets the choir, the individual groups of voices as well as organ and trumpet ad lib in relationship to each other in an impressively atmospheric manner. It is a moving concert piece that will immediately fascinate the audience.
Stabat Mater by Karol Szymanowski is characterized by his use of Polish melodies and rhythms. Following a trip to Zakopane in 1922, Szymanowski wrote of Polish folk music: “[it] is enlivening by its proximity to Nature, by its force, by its directness of feeling, by its undisturbed racial purity.” Szymanowski’s pairing of Polish musical elements with a liturgical text in Stabat Mater is unique.