Thursday, July 02, 2009

250 Sing Liszt's Ave Maris Stella

It was a great moment near the end of the colloquium when it became clear that the three-choir polyphonic complexity scheduled for the last motet was not really viable. All rehearsal time had been used for other Masses and events.

We needed a replacement but nothing really jumped out as obvious. I was standing with some others outside the cafeteria and talking about this when Wilko Brouwers snapped his fingers and said: "I've got it! Ave Maris Stella by Liszt!"

No one else present had heard this, though it later turned out that the conductor, Horst Buchholz, knew the piece well. He was even able to give a short description of its tricky modulations and the places to watch - which didn't surprise me since he seems to be some sort of walking encyclopedia of all music that has ever existed.

I had my computer with me and pulled up the file on CPDL, printed it inside, made 250 copies and a few hours later the entire colloquium was rehearsing it.

Talk about the glories of open source!

Anyway, the result was amazing. It is obviously a modern piece by a composer who worked mainly in the secular world, but this piece is a revelation. Might he have written this during his residence at the monastery Madonna del Rosario outside of Rome in the 1860s, during the period in which became a Franciscan and received the tonsure? It is hard to say, but there is no question of the influence of the chant here.

You will not believe what you hear right here. Singers were stretched from one end of the huge chapel to the other, and many were in tears by the end.


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