Vessel : for string orchestra
by Cyrus Meurant (2018)
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Library shelf no. 784.7/MEU 2 [Available for loan]
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In Thomas Tallis' "Why fum'th in fight" (Psalm 2), themes of nonconformity in contrast to submission are manifest with severity. It was Tallis' setting - also known as the 'Third Mode Melody' from the "9 Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter" - that centuries later would form the basis for Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis".
I considered embarking upon my own "re-composition" of English music to fit the ACO Collective's 2018 tour program - which included music of Purcell, Vaughn Williams and Britten - though I was eventually inclined to compose my own musical response to Tallis' Psalm 2 setting. In doing so, I've attempted to engage with the essence of the original work as inspiration rather than compose a "fantasia" on a musical theme or develop a literal set of "variations". Ultimately, the work has become a kind of vessel (Psalm 2:9) through which these timeless ideas are metaphorically re-contextualised.
My new work takes a modular approach to composition in a series of poetic musical responses to each of the twelve verses of the psalm. The twelve parts immediately segue into one another, with each section presenting various permutations of instrumentation: solos, duos, trios, quartets and whole section divisions. In the eighth part there are 16 separate lines of music. The setting of Psalm 2 from the Genevan Psalter (harmonised by Claude Goudimel) is also referenced before a definitive climax and peaceful conclusion.
My special thanks go to the ACO's Artistic Administrator Anna Melville and ACO Collective Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto for bringing about this opportunity.
Instrumentation: Strings (min. 184.108.40.206.1).
Duration: 10 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Australian Chamber Orchestra.. Commissioned by Australian Chamber Orchestra.
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