The title of today’s program, “While Endless Ages Run,” is inspired by a particularly poetic translation of the Latin “in saecula saeculorum,” often heard as part of the “Gloria patri” and translated: “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.” This alternate translation inspired our drawing together of works some 400 years apart to illuminate connections across time, as well as sacred and secular boundaries.
The 16th century was a particularly exciting time for choral music, with English luminaries like Tallis, Byrd, and Gibbons developing an expressive body of polyphonic choral works, some of which you will hear tonight. Much, though not all, of this music was written for the church and published through Tallis and Byrd’s joint monopoly on music publishing, granted by Queen Elizabeth in a time of great conflict between Catholic and Anglican ideologies.
Against this, we pose works by 20th century composers who draw on the rich heritage of choral music while reimagining it with exciting harmonic colors, such as the jazz-influenced palette of Messiaen’s “O Sacrum Convivium.”
We begin with an invitation--to live, to worship, and to love--and continue with two sets that consider the mysteries of life and love at the intersection of heart, soul, mind, and incarnation. In “Life’s Short Comedy,” we trace the metaphorical “dimming of the day” as we confront fear, loss, and death. Our program ends with the hope of dawn, new life, and new love.