COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 72

Magnificat (1979)

for SATB Chorus, Two Trumpets, and Two Trombones

Text from Luke 1:46-45 [Latin]

Cathedral Church of St. Paul, San Diego; Clarion Brass; David Amos, conductor

Duration: 15 min.

Dedication: to Stephen Sturk

Recording: Laurel LR-849

Premiere: 1981; Richmond (NY) Choral Society; J. Meyel

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In 1979 I wrote my setting of the standard Latin Magnificat, scoring it for mixed chorus, two trumpets and two trombones, with brief solos for an alto and a tenor voice. This layout may suggest the music of the early baroque, as exemplified by Schütz and Gabrieli, and accordingly, I have tried to cultivate some dramatic antiphonal effects. The vocal writing varies from fugal to declamatory, although all the while I have tried to convey something of the enraptured glory and tranquility that one assumes informed Mary as she awaited the Nativity.

I have broken from tradition in at least one way. Most Magnificat settings break down into 11 or 12 separated sections for each verse of the canticle. In some early cases alternate verses were polyphonically composed while every other verse is in plainsong, for example. My feeling was that a continuous setting, replete with contrast but without separated movements, would lend a greater sense of flow and continuity while keeping the whole work under a quarter-hour in length. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)