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The sun of Umbria : St Francis of Assisi

by Ralph Middenway (2013)

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Work Overview

Hobart Quaker Clive Sansom wrote a set of 65 poems with connecting prose on the subject of Francis of Assisi, published postumously in 1981.

The cantata consists of settings of eleven of these poems, with brief connecting poetic links by the composer.

The preliminary pages to the score provide necessary background; further analysis is available in the PhD exegesis, entitled 'If Music and Sweet Poetry Agree' published by the Uniiversity of Tasmania and available online.

Work Details

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: Soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, SSAATTBB choir, flute/piccolo/alto flute, oboe/cor anglais, string quintet (or string orchestra).

Duration: 48 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Vocal and instrumental parts require technical and musical fluency. Elaborate percussion part.

First performance: by Loose Canon, Helen Thomson, Nicholas King, Jamie Allen, Gary Wain at 'The Sun of Umbria' - Francis of Assisi (Scots Memorial Church, Hobart) on 9 Nov 2013

The musical style might loosely be described as neo-Impressionist, although a few parts of the score hint at mediæval organum, in keeping with the mediæval subject. The vocal parts are generally homophonic, for the sake of intelligibility in performance. The music is accessible, but by no means conventionally tonal, using modal, diminished and whole-tone melodic scales and a recurring interval row, along with tone clusters and pccasional polytonality. It takes a while for the singers to learn their parts but, once learnt, they are relatively straightforward. Audience reaction was heart-warming.

Cantata written as part of UTas PhD composition folio (degree awarded 2015).


Performances of this work

9 Nov 2013: at 'The Sun of Umbria' - Francis of Assisi (Scots Memorial Church, Hobart). Featuring Loose Canon, Helen Thomson, Nicholas King, Jamie Allen, Gary Wain.

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