New Year, New Music

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, January 02, 2011

To help ring in the New Year, Kent Tritle presents a variety of pieces composed in the last 50 years -- and some in the last five years or less.

Composers from the former Soviet Union have often written vividly for chorus, as we hear in both Krzysztof Penderecki’s epic setting of the Credo and in Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Miserere, a slow-moving and deeply contemplative work from 1989.

Among the more unusual pieces this week is On Photography, a rich-hued work by English composer Gavin Bryars. Set to a Latin poem by Pope Leo XIII, the piece was composed for Robert Wilson's aborted operatic project, The CIVIL WarS (1983) and revived as a stand-alone work in 1994.

Finally, we travel to Southern California, home to two influential American choral composers. We hear excerpts from O nata lux, by Morten Lauridsen, the former composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. And we get a taste of one of today's hottest choral composers, Eric Whitacre, best known for his virtual choir projects.

Comments [2]

Richard Pace

I particularly liked the focus on the last 50 years. Given that we are 10 years into the new millennium, it is time to stop calling all of the 20th century "modern".

Jan. 05 2011 01:33 PM
Michael Meltzer

Every piece was a well-done, polished composition, but if this selection was representative, it sounds to me like modern choral music is settling into a sameness of close, pleasant harmonies and constant mild dissonance which neither rises nor falls.
Perhaps there is more variety and ingenuity in repertoire if you extend back 75 years instead of just 50, and you get the contrasts of Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, Irving Fine, Carlos Chavez and Benjamin Britten, to name a few.
Everyone now seems to be trying to see how "spiritual" they can get. The old-timers went out on some limbs and pushed some envelopes.

Jan. 02 2011 10:38 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.