for chorus (2009)
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Traditional Marian Antiphone
In writing my large choral collection, Cantiones sacrae, I was interested in a number of dualities: Latin and English, Mary and Jehovah, male and female and their relationships to imploring, praying, and most importantly, suffering and tears. The Marian antiphon, Salve Regina, and the motet, How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord, a setting of the Psalm 13, are companion pieces that adequately represent these dualities and tensions: while both are scored for five voices, the Salve Regina asks for another female voice, the Psalm for another male voice; the Salve Regina addresses Mary and is in Latin, the Psalm, Jehovah and is in English.
Both the Salve Regina and How Long Wilt Thou Forget Me, O Lord are the most straight-forward and traditional settings in the cycle and, like late 16th century Italian polyphony, maintain a strong sense of line while being formally fragmented.
I divided the antiphon into four sections demarcated with long cadences. In the first I use traditional plainsong imitatively imploring the Queen of Heaven, this gives way to a faster and insistent setting of, “to thee we cry, poor banished children of Eve.” In the third section the Virgin is asked to turn her eyes toward us and in the fourth to show her blessed fruit, Jesus. In this final section, I repeat the word, ostende – “to show” continually in the soprano, even as the rest of the ensemble continues the verse.
While it is the most traditional in the collection, it is also among the bleakest with cold rays of triadic harmony that only illuminate a more desolate harmonic landscape.