Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (ensemble version)


by Jonathan Harvey

double chorus and ensemble
Chorus with Orchestra/Large Ensemble
Liturgical Latin
2(II=picc).2.2.1.cbsn - 2221 - 3 vln.2 vla.2 vlc.db
Commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain
First Performance
21.5.02, Cité de la Musique, Paris, France: Jeune Choeur de Paris/ Ensemble Intercontemporain/Pierre-André Valade

Vocal score 0-571-50551-1 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
This work was written for Winchester Cathedral, for the choir with men and young boys, in 1978. There it was performed in the liturgy in English, as is the custom. That version was with organ. The version for Ensemble InterContemporain is for full ensemble, except for percussion, harp and keyboards, though it is possible to add a large organ to amplify some loud climactic moments. The Magnificat is built around a long symmetrical cantus; it is a song of a cosmic Mary, with rays branching off in all directions - the Mary of iconography and mystical vision rather than the humble Jewish mother. The Nunc Dimittis is the song of the elderly Simeon, 'led by the Spirit' into the dark temple where he holds the infant Jesus. He sees a vision of redemption and light in the future. Simeon, by contrast to Mary, is individualized - he is a bass soloist; his 'vision' expands musically out of one line to great brilliance in a purely instrumental conclusion. The Gloria, as in tradition, is sung after each canticle.

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