voice (and nothing more) (satb choir with solo voice(s))
by Elliott Gyger (2011)
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The text for this work is a passionate diatribe on the transience
of the voice, from Emanuele Tesauro's "La metafisica del niente"
(The Metaphysics of Nothing). The voices are divided into three
groups: a solo quartet is flanked by two SATB choirs, allowing
for subtle variations in weight and emphasis, as well as
antiphonal and spatial effects.
One of the delightful paradoxes about the text is the way it exploits so powerfully that which it claims to despise, i.e. the power of the voice.
Tesauro's rhetoric is not merely literary, but demands to be spoken aloud, with its compelling use of imagery, alliteration, and above all rhythm (repetition and acceleration).
The title is similarly ambiguous. The phrase is a rough translation of the Latin saying "Vox praetereaque nihil", which is normally used to mean "all style and no substance" - but it can also be read as an expression of amazement at the ability of a great orator (or indeed a great choir!) to achieve so much with voice (and nothing more).
Instrumentation: SATB quartet, double SATB choir.
Duration: 10 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Volti (Musical group).
Performances of this work
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