Hymns in Reverie (multiple choirs with ensemble)
by Lachlan Skipworth (2017)
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This work for three choirs and two percussionists takes its text and inspiration from Novalis, a leading literary figure of the German Romantic movement in the 18th Century. First translated into English by William Hastie in 1888, Novalis' Hymns and Thoughts on Religion captured my imagination through its exploration of dreams as a window into the spiritual and mystical world. Naturally I wanted to create a dream-like atmosphere for the work, but I wondered also if I could in fact "dream" the piece itself. What do the melodies and hymns of my sleep sound like? And how could I crystallise this fleeting yet powerful emotional state into sound?
The music drifts through four sections, across which the overriding musical technique is the overlap of chords between the three choirs. As the sound from one choir fades away another enters on a new chord, creating a brief moment of harmonic tension that slips away before it can be grasped. In the first section, clouds of ascending sevenths and ninths blend and swirl like the images in a dream. A long yearning melody emerges in the second section, sung by three soprano soloists in echo. The darker third section sees cluster chords swell and recede against otherworldly percussion. The final section moves to open-voiced chords interjected sporadically by further melodic echoes over a pointillistic backdrop of glockenspiel and vibraphone.
Instrumentation: 3 choirs, percussion (2 players).
Duration: 14 min.
Performances of this work
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