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25 July 2011

Victoria with a Twist

a tribute to a Renaissance master of polyphony

Joseph Twist Image: Joseph Twist  
© Nuno Oliveira

Although I am involved in an eclectic range of musical activities, including film music, jazz and instrumental concert music, my passion for choral music as a singer and composer has remained a major focus of my career for years. Since 2003 I have been lucky enough to have my works performed by some highly regarded vocal ensembles, including The Australian Voices, The Song Company, Gondwana Voices and the famous American male vocal ensemble, Chanticleer.

As 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Spanish Renaissance polyphonist Tomás Luis de Victoria, I have had the honour of collaborating with three vocal ensembles in Melbourne and Sydney for the creation of several new works paying homage to Victoria's sacred masterpieces. This ongoing concert series, entitled 'Victoria with a Twist', has featured performances by the Consort of Melbourne, St James Parish Choir Sydney and St Mary's Cathedral Choir Sydney as part of the Victoria Festival, presented by the Melbourne Recital Centre.

It is an honour for a living composer to pay tribute to a significant musical forebear, particularly a composer whose musical contribution is so remarkable that his legacy is sustained 400 years following his death. Victoria's works are full of outstanding musical elements from which to draw inspiration, rich with wonderful arching phrases and ingenious part writing.

Many of my compositions, including my orchestral works and film scores, exhibit a fascination with musical allusion and pastiche - a kind of deliberately 'referential' music that utilises various musical styles, conventions and clichés by way of juxtaposition and synthesis. My works for 'Victoria with a Twist' demonstrate a similar compositional methodology. As many 16th century composers paid homage to pre-existing music by way of 'parody' or 'imitation', I have endeavoured to adopt a similar technique in my own Lamentation of Jeremiah, literally quoting parts of Victoria's Lamentations throughout.

Similarly, my compositions Hombres Victoria, Victoria! and Versa Est in Luctum, also written for this concert series, utilise material from Victoria's Missa Pro Victoria and the Requiem Mass Officium Defunctorum respectively. In addition to simply quoting Victoria, echoes of Victoria's part-writing are suffused throughout the thematic and harmonic material of all these new works, combined with more modern influences including repetitive minimalist textures and harmonic language drawn from the music of Steve Reich, Jonathan Dove, Arvo Pärt and James MacMillan.

It has been a privilege to write for the many talented singers involved with this project and I wish to thank director Warren Trevelyan-Jones for this unique artistic opportunity.

Event details

Victoria with a Twist III
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
27 August 2011 at 7:30pm
Full details in the AMC Calendar

Further links

Joseph Twist - AMC profile

Joseph Twist’s Lamentation of Jeremiah has recently been chosen for performance at the 15th International Choral Festival 'Days of Spiritual Music Cro patria' as part of their International Composition Competition. His work will be performed at the festival in Split, Croatia in November this year.


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