The First of Many…

This week’s playlist starts out with a work that I think is one of the most beautiful and moving of recent a cappella choral works: Eriks Ešenvalds’ Only in Sleep – in a gorgeous performance; and the video itself is so creative…love this!

Cover for Shelter in Play(ce) List March 17, 2020
The First of Many

Then follows William Byrd’s stunning a cappella motet “Ne irascaris, domine” (Isaiah 64:9-10) – I think it’s my all-time favorite renaissance motet. The text is particularly poignant for what we’re facing right now – cloaked in Byrd’s glorious vocal writing; I ran across a post by someone who was going through some anxious and uncertain civic times and who shared their thoughts about this piece and, as they are exactly how I feel about the piece, I thought them worth sharing with you – as we are all going through anxious and uncertain civic times:
My ears leaned towards the speakers when “Ne irascaris” started.  It was different than the preceding track, and not just in tempo and melody and all the obvious things, but in tone.  It wasn’t exactly soothing but it wasn’t exactly sad, and it sounded a little resigned but simultaneously still kept some hope alive.  The music caused all the fear, anger, unease, and resentment – towards a whole lot of things – I had felt to build in me until, once the music got to 06:10, I completely broke down.

on deserta facta est,
Jerusalem desolata est.
“Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem has been made desolate.”

I had to look up the English translation the next morning and was startled yet completely unsurprised to discover what the words that brought me to tears actually meant.  It felt spooky that I had, through total chance, found a piece that so completely resonated with feelings I’d not yet fully dealt with that it sparked a wonderful catharsis.  It’s amazing what music can do.

Ne irascaris Domine satis,
et ne ultra memineris iniquitatis nostrae.
Ecce respice populus tuus omnes nos.  

Civitas sancti tui facta est deserta.

Sion deserta facta est,
Jerusalem desolata est.”Be not angry, O Lord,
and remember our iniquity no more.
Behold, we are all your people.
Your holy city has become a wilderness.

Zion has become a wilderness,

Jerusalem has been made desolate.”

I follow that with three movements from Michael Torke’s Book of Proverbs – First, the orchestral overture; which is, honestly, the happiest orchestral music I know – I can never hear this and not break into a smile! The soprano solo movement is just lovely and bright and the final movement for chorus and orchestra “Boast not of tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring”; Proverbs 27:1 – is joyous, happy and optimistic – words of wisdom which seem tailor-made for our lives right now.
Finally, I uploaded the entire Missa in angustiis “Mass for troubled times” – (sometimes called the ”Lord Nelson Mass”) by Joseph Haydn. We performed this a few seasons back, but I thought it might be cathartic to travel from the stormy ‘Kyrie’ (with that awesomely crazy-wild soprano solo – talk about letting out anxiety!) through to the optimistic and joyous ‘Dona nobis pacem”.

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