Friday, February 03, 2006

In Medias Res to Stabat Mater

Last week, I got home at 3.30 after an in media res concert at the Railway Club. This week, a little earlier, 10ish after a choral performance at the Chan Centre out at UBC. A trifle eclectic, I'd agree.

Anyways, the University Singers performed one of Palestrina's masses, which was beautiful, and finished off with a piece by Respeghi, which I didn't find all that interesting. In the middle of the performance, however, they sang Arvo Part's Stabat Mater. Now, while this was the first time I'd heard a piece by Part, one of the speakers at the CCO conference talked at length on his life- how he'd been one of the Soviet Union's most accomplished composers, but in the late 70s fell into a creative morass, unable to write anything. Part eventually sought spiritual renewal, retreating to a monastery for a lengthy period. Part emerged not only with a strong faith, but a completely new and vigourous approach to his compositions. The key to his new style was his idea of tinntinnabulation, "whereby one part moves in stepwise motion while the other voices sing broken arpeggios of the same minor-mode triad." Part focused on sacred music, one of his new compositions being an arrangement of the Stabat Mater.

My academic knowledge of music is incredibly limited- but I can tell you that Stabat Mater worked on both the aesthetic and the spiritual levels. In short, one of the more riveting musical experiences I've had.


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