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Silent Night : for chamber choir, children's choir and cello

by Meta Cohen (2017)

Work Overview

When the Luminescence Chamber Singers first approached me to write a Christmas piece for them, I knew instantly that I wanted to write something meditative and a little unusual. Coming from a European family, what had always struck me about Christmas was this sense of quiet holiness, where people come away from the loud, consumeristic build-up to their own rituals and traditions - a dichotomy of quietness and noise.

I have always found the intersection between Christmas and the First World War incredibly interesting. One need only think of the Christmas Truce of 1914, where unofficially and quite spontaneously, a ceasefire spread across the Western Front and soldiers crossed the trenches. I am fascinated by rituals in times of chaos, and I wanted to explore the implications of this later in the war, in 1916, where there was a pervasive atmosphere of death and destruction.

When the choir suggested I set Russell Buzby's text 'Silent Night: 24th December, 1916' to music, I was taken by its intersection of ancient imagery (Achilles, Titans, Prometheus) with pieces of the church mass (Kyrie eleison) and very modern, violent wartime images. I aimed to reflect these visceral juxtapositions in the musical setting of this text. The music constantly rotates between beauty and destruction; between the vile and the holy; between clamour and mediative silence, reverence and ancient holiness.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Children's choir, SSATBarB choir, cello.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Luminescence Chamber Singers.. Luminescence Chamber Singers’ Christmas Season 2017.

First performance: by Luminescence Chamber Singers — 15 Dec 17. All Saints Church, Canberra.


Performances of this work

15 Dec 17: All Saints Church, Canberra.. Featuring Luminescence Chamber Singers.

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