Easter Orisons


by Jonathan Harvey

chamber orchestra
Small Orchestra
2(II=picc).2(II=ca).2.2 - 2000 - perc(1or 2): (vib)/4 gong/3 susp.cym/ 3 tgl/2 c.bells/4 tpl.bl/crot - strings (min

Commissioned by the Northern Sinfonia

First Performance
15.1.84, Newcastle: Northern Sinfonia/Steuart Bedford

Score 0-571-50821-9 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Easter Orisons falls into two connected movements. In the first, eight melodic ideas appear many times each, always at a different tempo with different harmony and at different lengths; and often in counterpoint with each other. A string quartet plays the same slow passage over and over again, getting steadily quicker as a complement to the melodies. But the tendency of the movement is a static pattern rather than a progression to something: The word orison means a repeated prayer.

The second movement reworks material from the Easter sections of my Church Opera Passion and Resurrection and leads up to the dramatic moment in the Easter Garden when the grieving Mary Magdalene recognises the gardener as her risen Lord: ‘Mary’ ‘Rabboni.’ His cantilena ‘Touch not your master. I have not ascended to my father, your father, my God, your God’ is quoted in the horns as a conclusion to the work.

Commissioned by the Northern Sinfonia with fund provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain, Easter Orisons was given its first performance in Newcastle upon Tyne in January 1984.

Jonathan Harvey

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