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Lamentations of Jeremiah : SATB choir

by Ralph Middenway (1990)

Work Overview

The traditional (English) text for musical settings of the Lamentations (as set by Thomas Tallis in Latin, or Fran├žois Couperin in French) consists of an Incipit, the verses Aleph and Beth, an Exhortation, the verses Gimel, Daleth and Heth, an Invocation, and the Exhortation again.

The message is tragic, but the Exhortation offers the possibility of relief.

The text is disturbing, in the same way that the history of European Jews in the last century is disturbing - and of Greeks and Kurds in Turkey, Turks and Armenians in Greece, Palestinians, Kurds in Iraq, Sunni in Alawi Syria, Christians everywhere.

The music aims to reflect the tragedy and the possibillity of relief.

Work Details

Year: 1990

Instrumentation: SSAATBB a cappella.

Duration: 16 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Requires an experienced chamber choir and conductor

Contents note: Incipit -- Aleph -- Beth -- Gimel -- Daleth -- Heth -- O vos omnes.

Commission note: Commissioned in 1989 by Corinthian Singers, Adelaide

First performance: by Corinthian Singers of Adelaide, Timothy Sexton — 1990. St Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Adelaide

The Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth and Heth settings use Middle Eastern scales. The verses, Invocation and Exhortation are chromatic; individual lines suggest but seldom display strict tonality; neither can the music overall be said to be clearly atonal. The style is difficult, but it works.


Performances of this work

Unknown date: featuring Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers, Antony Walker.

1993: featuring Intervarsity Choir, Timothy Sexton.

1990: St Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Adelaide. Featuring Corinthian Singers of Adelaide, Timothy Sexton.

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