Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pater Noster, by Michael Lawrence

Our schola was overwhelmed and thrilled that Michael Lawrence of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote a piece for us to sing. He has also agreed to make it available for free download. It is here: Pater Noster.

The piece is written in 3/4 but the barlines mean little at all. It is sung as more of a recitation, very slowly. We've been liberally minded in adding pauses, phrases, and dynamics as needed, since Michael deliberately provided none to allow for interpretation to take its own course.

Settings of the Pater Noster are more rare than you might expect, because the text itself was reserved to the celebrant in the Ordo Antiquus.

The harmonies in this piece are "modern" in the sense that he uses long stretches of 7th chords but the sensibility borrows from the Golden Age of polyphony. Schola members first said it sounds Russian. Others were just amazed that we would sing anything not 500 years old. Finally, someone just said: "This is a love song." We all agreed.

Actually, the piece is so tender and loving that one almost senses that to sing audibly is to compromise its integrity. But sing it we will, this Sunday. Thank you so much our dear friend Michael Lawrence, especially for your generosity in making this freely available.

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