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Lewis: Sacred Chants I ÔÇô XI

Lewis: Sacred Chants I ÔÇô XI

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Music Book


Publisher: Cathedral Press


I In Aeternum (SA+Organ)

II Lux Perpetua (SA+Organ)

III Lucis Aeternae (SA)

IV Requiescant in Pace (S+Organ)

V Aeternitatis (SA+Organ)

VI Laudate (Organ)

VII Aeterna Christi Munera (SATB)

VIII Passacaglia in Memoriam Luciano Berio (SAT+Organ)

IX Ave Maria (AT)

X Requiem Sempiternam (SATB+Organ)

XI Sabbato ad Vesperas (SATB+Organ)

If one goes back far enough, the origins of Jeffrey Lewis's Sacred Chants may be discovered in a concert, Sometime Voices, given by the Altèri Chamber Choir directed by David Jones in Manchester Cathedral on 13 August 2002. That concert accompanied the opening of an exhibition of paintings in the Cathedral by Anglesey-based artists Mick Brown and Jeni Farrell-Booth and included performances of Lewis's choral pieces Carmen Paschale (1981) and Recordatio (1999) and his tri-partite organ work Esultante (1978). The concert was framed by performances of Hymnus Ante Somnum (1985) for choir and organ. The performances of the choral works were preceded by readings of the texts and translations by Meera Bell-Thomson; the organist was Jonathan Scott. Six months later (15 February 2003) the concert was repeated in Bangor Cathedral, with a new title, Of Time and Stillness, and the addition of Four Sacred 89 Chants, each of which had been written to precede one of the four larger works. This set bears the dedication 'For David Jones and the Altèri Chamber Choir.' In Aeternum preceded Hymnus Ante Somnum and was thus heard twice that evening; Lux Perpetua came before Carmen Paschale and Requiescant in Pace before Recordatio. Those three Chants are here published exactly as they were heard in February 2003. The performance of Esultante was preceded by a setting of the text Lucis Aeternae for unaccompanied sopranos, altos and tenors. This setting was revised and expanded in January 2005 for a performance at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral (28 February 2005) by Côr Seiriol directed by Gwennant Pyrs, to whom this revision is dedicated. Since Côr Seiriol is an all-female group, the revision necessitated more divisions in the soprano and alto lines, partly to accommodate the line previously taken by the tenors and partly because the expansion (to almost three times its original length) is harmonically much richer than the original.

Between February and July 2003, Lewis continued to add to the series of Chants, composing six more. At this point, the manuscripts, sketches and numerous notes about the texts were put away in a folder until, about eighteen months later, the possibility of performing the entire sequence was explored. The process of preparing the manuscripts for the first performance, given on 18 February 2006 at Manchester Cathedral by the Altèri Chamber Choir directed by David Jones with organist Jeffrey Makinson, ranged from, at its simplest, checking and tidying the scores (numbers 6, 8 and 9), via a more comprehensive revision (numbers 5 and 7) to the rejection of an existing Chant and the composition of two more in its place (numbers 10 and 11). The rejected Chant, incidentally, was a setting for SATB choir and organ with the title Ascendit and was originally placed after the present Chant VIII. The date on the last page of the last Chant is 30 October 2005. The three unaccompanied items (Chants III, VII and IX) were given a semi-public airing at Imperial War Museum North on 29 January 2006 and have been performed as a group by Altèri on several subsequ