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Christchurch Vespers (Vespers for the Feast of Pentecost)

for solo soprano, choir, tambura, positive organ, and orchestra

Year:  2011   ·  Duration:  45m
Instrumentation:  2 (1.p) 2( 2(1.bcl) 2 | 2 3 2 0 | timp/gong/vibraphone | tambura | hp | positive organ | solo soprano | choir (SATB with divisi) | strings

Year:  2011
Duration:  45m
Instrumentation  2 (1.p) 2( 2(1.bcl) 2 ...

Composer:   Andrew Perkins

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: first page of each section

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This composition comprises the setting of seven texts from the Vespers for Pentecost liturgy. The Feast of Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church. The disciples during this time, without Jesus Christ, were alone and nervous - their job was to take the then new religion of Christianity to the world. The Loquebantur text describes the disciples being empowered by the Holy Spirit, enabling them to be understood by people of all nationalities. The music is constructed from a series of scalar formations that share characteristics with ancient modes and scales of antiquity. The melodic lines or polyphonic choral textures remain central to the surrounding orchestral web.

The first chorus, the mysterious invocation to God, Deus in adjutorium, is a responsorial monody for women voices and solo soprano, accompanied by the tambura.

In contrast, the Dixit Dominus, scored for choir and full orchestra, alternates between strident choral/orchestral phrases and quiet, sinister phrases, highlighting the war-like tone of this Messianic psalm.

Scored for full choir, solo soprano, strings, harp and vibraphone, the Laudate pueri psalm is more meditative. The music reflects the imagery of the text, which contains references to rising and falling, as well as things high and low. The central section, featuring the solo soprano, is evocative of Indian sacred song.

The Loquebantur setting, for full choir and orchestra, comprises alternations of choral polyphonic writing with slower, unfolding fan-shaped chords, representing the disciples’ wonderment at the Pentecost miracle. The surrounding orchestral filigree evokes the swirling winds and flames from heaven.

The verses of the monophonic strophic hymn Lucis Creator optime are performed by alternating female and male voices, with the final strophe performed by the full choir. A crescendo effect is obtained through the gradual addition of voice parts.

The setting of the Announcement of the Eternal Gospel text from the Book of Revelation is scored for full choir, solo soprano, strings, flute, harp and vibraphone. The first section comprises a series of quiet antecedents answered by more fully orchestrated consequent phrases. The second section features the solo soprano as the Angel reminding people to “Fear the Lord”: a continuous melodic line is sustained between the solo soprano and strings.

All the forces are employed in the setting of the Magnificat. The polyphony during the first half of the chorus is interpolated with very short fan-shaped motives. These are eventually allowed to blossom during the second half. The resulting climax of energy represents the Virgin Mary’s own realisation of the full import of the Annunciation. Incorporated into the contrastingly calm music of the final doxology are the first four notes of the Dorian mode Salve, Regina, an allusion to the young Virgin Mary’s eventual destiny.

Contents note

I. Deus in adjutorium meum intende (monody for choir, solo soprano and tambura)
II. Dixit Dominus (choir and full orchestra)
III. Laudate pueri (choir, solo soprano, strings, harp and vibraphone)
IV. Loquebantur (choir and full orchestra)
V. Lucis Creator optime (monodic hymn: choir, solo soprano and tambura)
VI. Announcement of the Eternal Gospel (choir, solo soprano, flute, strings, harp and vibraphone)
VII. Magnificat (choir, solo soprano, and full orchestra)

Text note

text from the Vespers for Pentecost liturgy