“Origins – Tracing the Ancient Liturgical Rite” Program Notes

 

Origins Flyer

November 22, 2015, 7:00 p.m.

Xavier Chapel of our Lady:
4710 North 5th Street,
Phoenix, Arizona 85012

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Origins Program Notes

 

I

 

Multi-Faith

Chants of Faith 

*Solis Camerata dedicates this multi-faith song about peace, to the victims of intolerance in Paris, Lebanon, Syria and around the world.

Collected and arranged by Joshua Haberman and David J. Xiques, these composers conceived the piece after September 11, 2001, for the choirs at San Francisco State University. The song combines five liturgical melodies about peace, healing and respect for common hope, despite diversity across cultures.

 

Ancient Hebrew

Psalm 23 and Psalm 122, as transcribed by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura

As a young composer, Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura became intrigued by the teיamim (signs or accents) printed in the Masoretic Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim), the oldest known copy of the Hebrew bible. Over the centuries, numerous theories arose about the teיamim assuming they emphasized grammar or inflected meaning. After intensive research, Haïk-Vantoura felt certain that these signs (both the sublinear and superlinear teיamim) instead held musical meaning, and could be transcribed into notation. She based this theory on Hebrew verbal phrase structures as well as the seven degrees of the heptatonic scales. At the encouragement of her composition teacher, Marcel Dupré, she devoted her retirement to puzzling out the mystery of biblical notation. After six years of research, she published the book La Musique de la Bible révélée in 1976 which included most of the book of Psalms. Haïk-Vantoura surmises that Levites in the Temple of Jerusalem chanted the entire Old Testament and that her reconstructions might sound like the liturgy worshipers heard over 3000 years ago. Indeed, chanting of Jewish liturgy is an ancient practice documented in the immediate centuries after Christ’s death, as Christian chant has its roots in Jewish cantillation. Some cast doubt on Haïk-Vantoura’s research due to the appearance of signs in the text she did not include in her research, as well as some awkward leaps and intervals. Despite some doubts, the beautiful melodies are compelling historically and it provides an interesting theory to understanding ancient biblical liturgy. The scores for this performance highlight the melodies discovered by Haïk-Vantoura, but also include her contemporary triadic harmonization.

There are parallels between ancient Jewish temple rites and early Christian rituals. Singing psalms assigned to days associated with a church calendar is a central portion of both synagogue and Christian worship. Although Christian rituals vary from ancient Hebrew traditions, there is another similarity. The Christian communities’ central portion of worship lies in the Mass, a commemoration of the Last Supper Jesus participated in with his disciples that has its origins in the structure of a Passover meal.

 

Byzantine

There is very little argument among scholars that worship music from the earliest period of the Christian church was largely congruent with that of Jewish ceremonies from the same time. These Jewish roots appeared in the early church through the chanting of of cantillations (chanted sacred text), such as singing of poems of praise from the Book of Psalms by a cantor. In the Hebrew tradition, Levites (members of a priestly class, including musicians) publically read the scripture based on formulaic models and divisions in the text. Ancient Byzantine chant in the early church included chanted scriptural readings, which portrayed formulas reflecting the phrasing of the text. Similar to church modes, melodies were classified into eight modes (echoi). Byzantine hymns manifested highly developed melodies as compared to the Western Church in the same time period. Beginning in the tenth century, notated books of hymns existed and continue as a part of Orthodox worship today. Missionaries from the Byzantine Rite shared their style of worship with the Slavs, thus establishing the Russian and other Slavic orthodox divisions of the church.

Kanon for Pentekost, Ode I – transcribed by Ioannis Arvanitis

Pentecost is a feast occurring the Sunday fifty days after Easter, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. These Pentecost Feast chants originated at the Monastery of Stoudious in Constantinople, where chants are a part of Eastern Christian cycles of the “sung office” known as the “service of kneeling.” Pentecost is a festival in the Eastern tradition where the Palestinian morning prayer includes two complete kanons (set of structured hymns). One of the canons come from St. Kosmas of Maïouma, and the second ascribed to St. John of Damascus (also known as John Arklas). The chant in tonight’s program, Ode 1 of the Iambic Kano,n – an early Byzantine hymn in Ancient Greek, comes from the text attributed to St. John of Damascus. The music consists largely of choral psalms with refrains (antiphona), alternating with a soloist. This antiphonal psalmody form of chanting encouraged congregants to participate in worship through song. Medieval Byzantine chant contrasts with the familiar and fluid Gregorian chant style of singing. Byzantine chant employs non-western tuning, chromatic inflections, and a Middle Eastern vocal singing style decorated with ornaments, and a drone (or ison) polyphonically accompanies the melody.  *Information for these notes come from Alexandar Lingas’ program notes for his Capella Romana recording, Byzantium in Rome, Medieval Byzantine Chant.

Mother of God, Here I stand – Sir John Tavener

Mother of God, Here I stand does not come directly from Byzantine chant, but rather draws from the Eastern Orthodox school of thought. Sir John Tavener, a composer from England, found himself deeply influenced by the Orthodox tradition. Tavener thought of his music as deeply mysterious or spiritual and he said that the drone “is the acoustic representation of the silence of God in Eastern music.” In 2003 he composed an unprecedented composition, Veil of the Temple, which is a seven-hour-long vigil, performed all night. This monumental work comes from the byzantine tradition of St. John’s gospel, but also embraces Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and the religion of the American Indians. Each cycle pinpoints singular characters, similar to how Byzantine Isons (drones) or Hindu ragas evoke spiritual meaning. Over the course of the work, the subject matter blossoms from the central points of the gospel, developing and increasing intensity through each cycle. The Byzantine work reaches its crux at the end of the seventh cycle, where there is a spiritual transformation, turning from the old temple into the new.  Mother of God here I stand is in the seventh of the work’s eight cycles, and stands alone as an independent anthem. It is a short but meaningful anthem of slow, atmospheric chords, designed to evoke devotional stillness and spiritual peace. The text comes from Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov (1814-41), a gentle tribute to mother Mary.

 

Georgian Sacred Chant

Da vitartsa meupisa, and Motsikuli krist’esagan – Sacred Georgian Polyphony

The Georgian region adopted Christianity in the year 337 AD. Worshipers erected monasteries and churches with schools of singing associated with them. Coinciding with the earliest Georgian translations of the Bible, the church created new hymns and liturgies. Georgia is unique in contrast to its neighbors–Armenians, Azeris and Turks–whose music is largely homophonic in texture. Georgian sacred and folk music is predominantly polyphonic, perhaps beginning earlier than other religious traditions. Much of this liturgical tradition developed through an oral tradition and experienced preservation through continuous use in worship through the nineteenth century.

A number of transcriptions of Georgian hymns exist, dating as far back as the eighth century. Some notation is undecipherable, but other manuscripts are readable and survived by being housed in Georgian monasteries. Due to the Georgian Orthodox church becoming Russianized in the early nineteenth century, and suppression of the practice by the Soviet Union in 1921, Georgians have worked tirelessly to preserve their ancient tradition from vanishing. Beginning in the 1950s, in a Soviet effort to salvage regional music and dances from various Russian territories, the government funded performing ensembles to concertize their music and tour around the world. This elevated interest of indigenous folk and sacred music, and spurred researchers to travel to remote mountainous regions, collecting historical music from older generations of Georgian people. The two most prominent types of medieval polyphony found in Georgian liturgy are Kartli-Kakhetial (eastern) and Gurian or Imeruli-Guruli (western). The eastern style is more triadic, placing more importance on the middle voice, which is more melodic. The western style is characterized by more independence between three polyphonic lines and less triadic harmony. Both examples in tonight’s program feature examples from the eastern style.

 

Russian Orthodox

In the year 988, Emperor Vladmir converted to Christianity, marking the beginning the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet, there is evidence of Christianity amongst the Slavs for centuries before his baptism. The Greek-influenced Byzantine Chant existed in Russia and eventually received translation into Slavonic languages as a new chant rite, Znamenny Raspev (chanting by signs). However, the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church has a different sound and color than its Byzantine counterpart, as melodic patterns changed based on language, resonance and cultural modal preference. Russian Orthodox music eventually altered further with the seventeenth century influence of western music. Patriarch Nikon fueled an interest in Western music, dismissing the wonders of ancient Russian chant. The liturgical Russian music from Nikon’s time became Westernized, sounding Baroque, not dissimilar to a polychoral motet by Italian composer, Giovanni Gabrieli. This westernization of Russian music caused a great schism to occur, as some felt the church music should only exhibit old Znamenny chant, while others favored harmony and polyphony.  Instead, the Russian Orthodox Church combined the two schools of thought, creating a new distinct sound different than any other regional sound. The music married the rhetoric and melody of Znamenny chant with stunning choral harmonies characterized by Gretchaninoff and Rachmaninoff in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Russian Revolution (1915) put a quick and sharp end to the traditional Russian way of life, cutting off creative output from the Russian Orthodox religion for decades as they went into hiding during the communist regime. Now there is a resurgence in interest for the ancient ways, as Russian Orthodox musicians and professional ensembles attempt to recreate the lost art.

O Gladsome Light – Phos Hilaron

Phos Hilaron (O Gladsome Light) is the earliest known Christian hymn, originating in Cappadocia in eastern Turkey and passed down in numerous melodies through an oral tradition. Originally documented in the third or fourth century treatise Apostolic Constitutions, (from Antiochen origin), the hymn likely dates from an earlier period. St. Basil mentions in his fourth century treatise “On the Holy Spirit,” that the hymn came from an archaic tradition, saying it was “one of our oldest and most beloved hymns.” Hymnologists and liturgists consider it to be the first complete hymn not mentioned first in the Bible, although there is no documentation of the original melody. The written version hailing originally from the Greek Orthodox and Byzantine traditions, its melody changed in each liturgical branch (Roman Catholic, Aramaic, Greek, Anglican), but remains largely the same in text. Early Christians sang this hymn for the ritual of lighting the lamps documented by a fourth century nun who wrote about her journey to the Holy Land and the evening ritual of lighting a candle/lantern (lucernarium) in Christ’s tomb while singing this hymn. Early Christians lived in the natural seasonal rhythm of night and day. The darkness of the night became bearable with the promise of God’s light and the dawn of a new day, symbolized with a lantern. This hymn occurred during Vespers, and it underwent a variety of alterations in the Russian Orthodox Church, primarily through the Kiev Chant dialect. In the middle ages, this chant likely sounded as a single unison melody. The version Solis Camerata performs tonight has three-part harmony which arose in the 16th century as Russian musicians became aware of the Western technique of polyphony called strochnoi penie (line singing). The chant in the middle voice sang in harmony with two other voices, one above and one below. However, the harmony didn’t align with Western polyphony. Instead of westernized Renaissance techniques of imitation, strict control of consonance and dissonance, Russian composers of the same period wrote music similar to indigenous Russian folk song, utilizing unprepared dissonances, parallel voices in fifths, sevenths, and ninths.

Paschal Troparion and Canon – First Ode

(Traditional Orthodox hymnody attributed to St. John of Damascus)

Paschal Troparion and Canon – First Ode comes from the seventeenth period of westernization. The basic chant exhibits characteristics found in Kiev chant (a simplified form of znamenny), juxtaposed against western harmonization. Portions of this piece stem from an earlier period where asymmetric rhythm flourished. Although the song is lively and joyful, listeners may experience ‘hiccups’ in the rhythm, presenting differently in every strophe of the text. Attributed to St. John of Damascus, the text is the song of Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, escaping from Egypt.  This hymn of thanksgiving from the Old Testament celebrates God’s deliverance from death to life and from slavery to freedom, and the Resurrection of Christ. The canon is a portion of Pascha and Bright week vigil services in the Orthodox Church (the renewal week following Easter).

 

II

Ancient Greek

Greek music and its influence on early Christianity

The early Christian church found inspiration in Greek theory, philosophy and thought, which led to early traditions and beliefs, the seeds of religious thought for centuries to come. The Christian philosopher, Boethius (ca. 480-524), wrote a treatise on logic, theology, and the mathematical arts entitled De institutione musica (The Fundamentals of Music). He derived his beliefs about music from Greek resources, primarily a treatise by Nicomachus and Ptolemy’s treatise, Harmonics. He wrote about his particular interest in musica humana (human music), in which he stressed the influence of music on one’s character in harmonizing the soul. Like the Greeks, the early Church fathers (St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Basil) believed that the value of music in liturgy came from its power in influencing the ethos of worshipers. They asserted that music should not entertain, but instead existed to remind listeners of divine beauty, and share a religious message through a sense of community. St. Basil said:

A psalm is the tranquility of souls, the arbitrator of peace, restraining the disorder and turbulence of thoughts, for it softens the passion of the soul and moderates its unruliness. A psalm forms friendships, unites the divided, mediates between enemies… Singing of psalms brings love, the greatest of good things, contriving harmony like some bond of union and uniting the people in the symphony of a single choir.

Epitaph of Seikilos

Epitaph of Seikilos is the earliest known complete example of a musical composition that scholars can accurately transcribe. Found on a tombstone near the southwestern edge of Turkey dating 100 A.D., the inscription on the marker prefacing the poem states:

I am a tombstone, an icon. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.

The poem is an epigram, which combines two opposing ideas in a clever, yet poignant voice. In this case, the poem encourages its reader to be untroubled, even happy, despite the turning of time and the inevitable certainty of death. Ethos is the ancient Greek philosophy that each person’s ethical character could be effected by the type of music (including which scale or key the piece is in) or poetry one listened to. The ancient Greeks actively sought music that would cleanse one’s spirit and lead the soul to inner harmony. The ethos of Epitath of Seikilos is one of moderation between two extremes: one of sadness, and one of joy. The effect creates a moderate ethos – neither happy nor sad – instead the text encourages faith and cheerfulness in the face of sadness and the inevitability of death.

While you live, shine. Have no grief at all. Life exists only for a short while. And time demands its toll.

In Kira Rugen’s version of this song, she fuses Greek music theory with modern context and harmony. The piece begins and ends with meditative melodies, reminiscent of middle east ballads. While introducing Greek versions of Phrygian and Dorian scales, Rugen places the the Greek descending tetra chord scales (Harmonic and Melodic) within the counter melody. Greek thought considered the melody female, and rhythm male and advocated for mixed meters and tempi within a single song. This song juxtaposes meters, while exhibiting the Greek prosody of long and short rhythms. The piece suggests, through the use of a drum, rhythms that might be found in a skolion – a drinking song sung at a banquet. Each attendee, extolling the virtues of men, expressed a deep personal feeling or made comments upon daily life.  The song’s meaning and intention share characteristics with early Greek liturgical traditions that solemnly honor life’s joys and sorrows.

Oxyrhynchos Hymn – 3rd century extant  

The Oxyrhynchos Hymn, or Hymn to the Trinity, comes from the third century A.D. Discovered in 1918 on a papyrus in Egypt, it is written with ancient Greek musical notation and the poem exhibits the Greek alphabet. This manuscript is the single physical fragment of Christian music that exists from before the ninth century, and it includes both notation and lyrics. Oxyrhynchus was a prosperous Egyptian City, known for its churches and monasteries and archeologists excavated it in the late nineteenth century. On a site that for centuries had been used as a town garbage dump, researchers found numerous papyrus documents including plays of Mendander, the Gospel of Thomas, and this hymn.  Now kept at the Papyrology Room of the Sackler Library in Oxford, the notation exhibits a melody within an octave range on a hypolydian mode. The notation depicts rhythmic symbols of long and short value, primarily syllabic with some short melismas. It is in Anapaestic meter, denoting a metrical form found in ancient Greek formal poetry. Some scholars believe the melody is similar to the Sanctus melody found often in the medieval Requiem Mass.

 

Chaldean

Immar Ly’Edta – Chaldean Chant

The Chaldean Rite preserves the earliest religious chants recognized, and its simple antiquity is still practiced today. The Chaldean lineage reaches back to Mesopotamian civilizations of 7000 years ago, creating a culture suffused with millennia-old traditions. St. Thomas the Apostle introduced Christianity to the Chaldeans in the first centuries after Christ’s death, establishing the Church of the East. At that time, a sizable Jewish population existed in the land, influencing the earliest forms of Chaldean chant and developing a fusion of Judeo-Christian and Assyro-Babylonian music. Chaldeans who lived during the first through sixth centuries A.D in what is now modern day Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, accounted for approximately half of the population. They considered themselves members of the Universal Catholic church until 431 A.D. when philosophical differences with the western church caused isolation and consecutively called the Nestorian Church. Moslem Arabs conquered the Chaldeans in 634 A.D, imposing their own religion upon the state, enforcing further Chaldean isolation from western Christian followers in Constantinople and Rome. For more than one thousand years, the Chaldeans remained isolated from the rest of the Church. However, they continued their practice of archaic chant, founded in the first centuries after their conversion, and established a strong oral tradition that preserved its antiquity through melodies which are still sung the same today as at their conception. The liturgical and melodic language, removed from the musical influence of the western church, absorbed scales, ragas and quarter tones found in middle eastern and Indian music.

The Chaldean Hymn, Immar Ly’Edta, occurs during the Sanctification of the Church liturgical season (mostly) during the month of November. It is a combination of rich poetry, doctrine and philosophy that interweaves a conversation between Christ’s shepherds and the church community they wish to establish. The poem introduces and compares the sun (intellectual enlightenment), moon (sensual fantasies), stars (vain glories) and mountains (mighty power) to weak worldly foundations. The text encourages the Church to rely upon faith alone as its Rock. Due to the persecution Chaldeans underwent in the Middle East region over the centuries, they hid certain visible elements of their faith as to not suffer further abuse. Chaldean liturgy never experienced written notation, persevering only as an oral tradition. Consequently, to this day Chaldean chant continues to be an exclusive oral tradition, passing the melodies on through repeated listening and singing. Father Felix Shabi shared the melody you will hear today with Dr. Rugen, and she transcribed it into music notation in order to teach Solis Camerata this sacred chant.

 

 

Roman Catholic

The early Christian Church relied upon memory, repetition and oral transmission for both composition and retention of melodies. A number of chant dialects developed in each region, such as Ambrosian Chant, Gallican Chant, Celtic Chant, Byzantine Chant, and Old Roman Chant. They held characteristics of local languages and scales, and showed preferences toward honoring particular local saints. This process continued until the eighth century when the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, and Pope Leo III attempted to codify the chant. Over time, the local chants disappeared as authorities in Rome systemized the practice into a single system now know as Gregorian Chant, absorbing the local variances found in chant dialects.  The process of chant standardization served the purpose of establishing centralized control in Rome, thus strengthening the medieval church. However, even after Gregorian chant became the official chant repertory of the Church, melodies varied from region to region as memory of melodies didn’t always travel accurately. The invention of notation in the ninth century was an attempt to stabilize melodies across the Church. The original forms of notation (called neumes, meaning gesture) only reminded the singer, who already knew the melody, the basic shape of the chant. Early neumes looked like curvy lines, and indicated the melodic outline of the melody. Eventually scribes placed neumes at varying heights over a single horizontal line to indicate relative pitch above or below the line, usually referring to either C or F. The theorist Guido of Arezzo, an eleventh-century monk, invented additional horizontal lines, each a third apart, creating the precursor to the modern five-line staff. It was not until this invention that singers had the ability to accurately replicate pitches and intervals.

Chant of the early Church began as a monophonic (single voice) utterance with specific formulas for each chant based on its feast and purpose, whether it be for the Office, or Proper or Ordinary of the Mass. Clergy and the choir sang the liturgy in responsorial or antiphonal formats and eventually the unison melodies developed into polyphony (two or more vocal parts). It is through the scope of polyphony that music of the Church blossomed.  Chant underwent continuous changes in melody, harmony and rhythmic patterns over the next centuries, creating along its path a canon of the world’s most remarkable musical compositions.

Sancte Bonifati Martyr – 10th century anonymous

Musica Enchririadis (Music Handbook), a ninth century music theory treatise intended for music students, is the first known source explaining the earliest principles of polyphonic music, called organum. It describes eight Church modes that all chants could be classified into, and it included exercises for locating the half steps in a melody. Additionally, it explains the ninth-century understanding of consonances in polyphony which prefers the parallel fourth. Until recently, scholars believed a manuscript called the Winchester Troper, written in the eleventh century, held the designation of the earliest polyphonic music outside of theoretical treatises. However, Giovanni Varelli, a doctoral student at Cambridge, recently stumbled upon an early tenth-century score that predates all other polyphonic manuscripts by a century. Written on the bottom pages of a parchment, Varelli discovered Sancte Bonifati Martyr, an antiphon chant honoring the English missionary St. Boniface who converted large areas of Germany to Christianity. Sancte Bonifati Martyr’s similarities to Winchester Troper organum include parallel movement in fourths, and holding a note in one voice while the alternate voice changes tones, eventually arriving at a cadence. The two styles differ as Sancte Bonifati Martyr exhibits a smaller mobility of range, emphasizes cadential moments in unison, and the use of thirds, considered to be a dissonance in later organum

Aeterna Christi Munera – by Tom Peterson

Aeterna Christi Munera is an Ambrosian hymn for feasts of Apostles and Evangelists. The Ambrosian chant tradition is among the most ancient bodies of Christian chant known to history, and with its age — perhaps as early as the fourth century A.D. — comes questions: variations in texts and tunes have made determining a single definitive version of Aeterna Christi Munera nearly impossible.

This work takes as its starting point St. Augustine’s assertion that such hymns were sung in “triple time,” a practice that, even if it was common, was not notated in the music. Therefore, while the tune remains more or less constant, this dichotomy — duple vs. triple — manipulates the rhythm, the meter, and even whether the chorus divides into four or six parts. *Notes written by Tom Peterson

 

Ave Maris Stella – Guillaume Dufay 15th Century

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397 – 1474) had a broad spectrum of talents. In addition to his activities as a composer, he labored as a doctor of Canon Law, regularly participating in various ecclesiastical events. A wealthy, cosmopolitan, and powerful man living in the area of Cambrai (Northern France), his correspondence with contemporary composers Binchoi, Ockeghem and Dunstable furthered his compositional technique. Much of his output reflected his dedication to canonic duties, as it furthered the larger role that liturgical polyphony played in the Church.

This work, Ave Maris Stella, places Dufay at center stage as an international composer. Inspired by the English Faburden (a composition with only a cantus and tenor written out and the middle voice improvised), Dufay heard this style and copied it in several of his hymns, antiphons and simpler office chants. When referring to Dufay’s execution of the polyphonic method, the term is called Fauxbourdon. Ave Maris Stella begins with the plain chant in unison, and then during the burden (chorus) the top voice has the chant, the middle line appears consistently a fourth below the chant and likely performed in the period as improvisational. The bottom voice moves similarly to parallel sixth below the top voice with some alterations, but would not have been improvised. The resulting effect sounds eerily archaic to modern ears due to the parallel fourths, and yet strangely familiar due to the relatively new fascination fourteenth century Europeans had with the ‘sweet’ sounds of a consonant third, inspired by English music. The resulting chordal outline presents what we now understand as triadic harmony, only moving in parallel motion, contrasting to the more balanced approach of contrary, oblique, and similar choral motion in tonal harmony, developed during the Baroque period and crystalized by J.S. Bach. The most difficult task twenty-first century performers must execute is the realization of Musica Ficta rules (meaning false or feigned music). Musicians of the Medieval and Renaissance church understood basic modal rules in which singers raised or lowered notes by a semitone to avoid the tri-tone in a melody. The alterations would not have been indicated in the score, but instead singers attempted to make ‘sweeter’ sounding harmony at the cadences by avoiding the tri-tone.

 

Jubilate Deo – by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina 16th Century

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s (1525/26-1594) music became the model revered by composers’ generations after his death. His style, synonymous with the term Stille antico (old style), characterizes the height of Renaissance polyphonic composition.  He wrote predominantly in the sacred genre, and wrote more Masses than any other composer to that point. Although the Council of Trent (held during the Counter-Reformation) made scant changes to music’s desired construction, officials did affirm that the text must always be understood in polyphonic music. As the legend goes, Palestrina saved polyphony from condemnation by the Council of Trent by composing stunning music that did not obscure the words. His music embodied the ideas of the Counter-Reformation: music should be pure, elegant, and have an understandable text, but also vary in rhythm, melody, and sonority. Palestrina’s phrases use long singable melodic lines. His form and harmonic structure sounds transparent, yet he juxtaposes overlapping five- to six-voiced polyphony with homophonic textures, culminating as the ideal compositional perfection for Renaissance sacred music. A hallmark of Palestrina’s style includes the strict use of dissonance, where composers discreetly suspend offending notes long enough to encourage the listener to desire resolution, which he then presents with serenity and grace. Tonight’s joyful motet by Palestrina comes from the Offertory and Doxology of the Mass Ordinary, Jubilate Deo, and can be sung by a double choir of voices, or doubled with instruments.

 


 

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kiradawn

Mother of two amazing children and Choral Conductor extraordinaire. Never a dull moment in life as a mommy musician!

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