Essay on Contemporary Choral Music

2238 Words Nov 23rd, 2012 9 Pages
Contemporary Choral Compositions
Most people that live in the modern generation view choral music as old, boring harmonies whose composers died with kings. However, choral music is not just for the elderly singing hymns apathetically in the church pews on Sunday morning. Though the perception of it remains unenthusiastic among common listeners, the life of choral music is not as dead or boring as most would assume. Choral music is made modern, enjoyable, and vibrant through the works of contemporary composers. Although it is not as recognized in modern generations, brilliant vocal compositions and composers still exist today.
Two of the most recognized composers of contemporary choral music today are Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre.
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While reading love poems, Lauridsen became increasingly intrigued by the symbolic image of flames that recurred within the context. “I decided to compose an intensely dramatic cycle based on Renaissance love poems employing this fire motive while blending stylistic musical features of the period with contemporary compositional idiom,” says Lauridsen.
The musical textures of this composition are replete with Renaissance techniques, including word painting, modality, intricate counterpoint, and bold harmonies unified by what Lauridsen terms the “fire chord,” a minor triad with an added major seventh. The six movements of Madrigali, in order, include Ov’è, Lass’, Il Bel Viso?, Quando Son Più Lontan, Amor, Io Sento L’Alma, Io Piango, Luci Serene e Chiare, and Se per Havervi, Oimè. In the final movement, Se per Havervi, Oimè, the text translates to:
“If, alas, when I gave you my heart,
There was born in me that passion,
Cruel Lady, which burns me everywhere
So that I am all aflame,
And if, loving you, bitter torment
Makes me die of sorrow,
Wretched me! What shall I do
Without you who are my every joy?”

[Play Madrigali] Lauridsen explains, “I wanted this music to emanate (like ripples from a pebble thrown into a pond) from a single, primal sonority; one dramatic chord that would encapsulate the intensity of the entire cycle and which would provide a musical motivic unity to
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