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Program note: Ekstasis Andrew Schultz

  • Andrew Schultz
  • Source: Program The Song Company Virgins and Nightingales 25,27 & 29 May 1992

Ekstasis Andrew SCHULTZ (b. 1960)
Ekstasis was composed in August 1990 for The Song Company and is a setting for
six solo voices of a freely adapted passage from the conclusion oÍ The Song of
Songs. The eight lines used are erotic love poetry exploring the sensual territory at
the border of love and pain, obsessive lust and spiritual transcendence:

Set me like a seal on your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is strong as death,
Jealousy relentless as pain.
The flash of it is a flash of fire,
a flame of life itself.
Love no flood can drench
no torrents drown.

Yet whilst the text is direct and passionate it also has a classical and simple shape,
as if the strength of meaning demands a balancing formality of expression.
ln Ekstasis, the text is used over and over as if all aspects of its meaning are being
explored and implying an overtly erotic, dramatic shape for the music's form. ln the
course of the work, the words are varied slightly but continuously so that the first
lines lose their purity and become almost desperate:

Set me like a scar on your soul,
Like a brand on your body.
For love is strong as death,
Time certain as pain.

The music of the piece stems from a few simple sources: a single chord that forms
up slowly over a protracted period, sighing glissandi, rapturous moans and calling
melodies and a duet refrain that is continuously varied. The work contrasts
different possibilities of texture beginning with a solo, then a duet and so on until all
six voices are heard. Finally, it closes with a still section - a state of dis-placement
or trance, the literal meanings of the Greek word ekstasis. A.S.


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