2(I=picc.II=picc+afl).2(II=ca).2(II=bcl).2(II=cbsn) - 4221 - timp - perc(2): 2 SD/4 tom-t/2 BD/cyms/tam-t/3 susp.cym/bongos/car suspension spring/finger.cym/glsp/t.bells/wdbl - organ - harp - strings
I wanted this work to revel in the power of human community. There should be no soloists, and the text should relate to our basic need for religion without being overtly religious. To focus on this 'inner' humanity, I selected four hymns from religions long-dead, in languages that have not been spoken for thousands of years. Although there are only a handful of scholars in the world who could plumb the depth of both these languages, the sequence of phonemes, the rhythm and intent of the sounds, still resonate with our primal need to create order form chaos.
Enuma Elish is a creation myth describing the creation of the world from primeval chaos. Although generally described as 'Sumerian' or 'Babylonian' and possibly originating before 2000 BC, this version of the myth is taken from a cuneiform tablet in Semitic Akkadian of Northern Babylonia, 1300-1250 BC. The remaining three texts are Eis Gên, Eis Selênên, and Eis Hêlion - hymns to the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. These are taken from the Homeric Hymns (circa 400 BC), written in the centuries following Homer's death as introductions to public readings of his great epics. They were written in Greek 'Epic Dialect' and have been interpreted according to Revised Classical pronunciation. These four tracts combine to form a simple pantheon of the human condition: an account of creation followed by our relationship to the prime deities of the cosmos. Each hymn is preceded by an orchestral prelude.
Choral Symphony was commissioned by Guildford Grammar School (Perth, Western Australia) in celebration of their first centenary, with financial assistance from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council. It was first performed by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the WASO Collegium Choir, conducted by the composer on March 8th, 1996, Perth Concert Hall, Western Australia. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Trevor Evans (Sydney University, Classics Department) and Professor Noel Weeks (Sydney University, Department of Ancient History) for their patient help in explaining Ancient Greek and Semitic Akkadian, respectively.
The Text: I - Enuma Elish Enuma Elish la nabu shamamu Shaplish ammatum shuma la zakrat Apsu rishtu zarushun muumu Tiamat mualidat gimrishun mushunu ishtenish ichiquuma gipara la kitsura tsutsa la she'u enuma ilani la shupu manama shuma la zukkuru shimatu la shimu ibanuma ilanu qiribshun ... Enuma Elish When in the height heaven was not named And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name And the primeval Apsu, who begat them, and Muumu, Tiamat, the mother of all. Their waters mingled as one And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen. When of the Gods none had appeared, And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained; The Gods were created in their midst ...
II - Eis Gên mêtera pantôn Gaian pammêteiran a'eisomai, ê'üthemethlon, presbistên, hê ferbei epi chthoni panth hopos estin; êmen hosa chthona dian eperchetai, êd hosa ponton, êd hosa pôtôntai, tade ferbetai ek sethen olbu. ek se'o deupaideste kai eukarpoi telethusi, potnia, seu dechetai dunai bion êdafelesthai thnêtois anthrôpoisin; ho dolbios, honke sü thümô profrôn timêsês; tô tafthona panta paresti. Brithei men sfin arura feresbios êde katagrus ktênesin euthênei, oikos dempiplatai esthlôn; Autoi deunomi'êsi polin kata kalligünaika koirane'us, olbos de polüs kai plutos opêdei; paides deufrosünê ne'othêle'i küdio'ôsi, parthenikaite chorois feresanthesin eufroni thümô paizdusai skairusi katanthea malthaka poi'ês, huske sü timêsês semnê thea afthone daimon. ... to the Earth, Mother of all I will sing of well-founded Earth, mother of all, oldest of all beings. She feeds all creatures in the world, all that go upon the good land, all that move in the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed by her store. Through you, O queen, men are blessed in their children and in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give life to mortal men and to take it away. Happy is the man whom you delight to honour! He has all things abundantly: his fruitful land is laden with corn, his pastures are full of cattle, and his house is rich. Such men rule orderly in cities of fair women: great riches and wealth follow them: their sons exult with youthful delight and their daughters in flower-laden bands play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field. Thus is it with those whom you honour, O holy Goddess, bountiful spirit. ...
III - Eis Selênên [Selênê, Selênê] ... hês apo aiglê gaian helissetai uranodeiktos kratos apathanatoi'o, polüs düpo kosmos orôren aiglês lampusês; ... ... tekmôr de brotois kai sêma tetüktai. ... Chaire, anassa, the'a leukôlene dia Selênê ... To the Moon [Selene, Selene] ... From her immortal head a radiance shines from heaven embracing the earth, and great is the beauty of her shining light; ... ... so she is a sure token and a sign to mortal men. ... Hail, white-armed goddess, bright Selene ...
IV - Eis Hêlion Hêlion hümnein ... archeo ... fa'ethonta, ton Eurüfa'essa bo'ôpis geinato Gai'ês paidi kai Uranu astero'entos; gême gar Eurüfa'essan agakleitên Hüperi'ôn autokasignêtên, hê hoi teke kallima tekna, ê'ôte hrodopêchün, e'üplokamonte Selênên, ê'elion takamant, epi'eikelon athanatoisin, hos fainei thnêtoisi kai athanatoisi the'oisin hippois embeba'ôs; smerdnon doge derketai ossois chrüsês ek korüthos, lamprai daktines apautu aiglê'en stilbusi, para krotafônte parei'ai lamprai apo kratos chari'en katechusi prosôpon têlauges; kalon de peri chro'i lampetai esthos lepturges pnoi'ê anemôn, hüpo darsenes (h)ippoi ... enth ar hoge stêsas chrüsozdügon (h)arma kai hippus thespesios pempêsi di uranu ôkeanon de. Chaire anaks, profrôn de bion thümêre opazde; ... To the Sun First, ... sing a hymn of the radiant Sun, whom mild-eyed Euryphaëssa bore to the son of the Earth and starry Heaven; For Hyperion married glorious Euryphaëssa, his own sister, who bore him lovely children : rosy-armed Aurora, rich-tressed Selene and tireless Helion who is like the immortal gods. As he rides his chariot he shines down on men and immortal Gods, his gaze piercing from under his gold helmet. Bright rays beam from him, dazzling, and his bright locks stream from his temples gracefully framing his far-seen face. A rich, fine-spun garment glows upon his body and flutters in the wind: his stallions carry him... then, when he has stopped his golden-yoked chariot and horses, he rests on high before diving through Heaven down to the Ocean. Hail! Lord. Give me, in your kindness, a life to please my heart. ...
‘It’s elegant. It’s succinct. It works… Vine’s music is so articulate, so well conceived that, for new music, it makes for unmodishly easy listening. His Choral Symphony (No 6) is a fine example of effective and affecting music. It is full of the past – Verdi, Holst and Orff come through loud and clear – but woven among the comforting resonances are startlingly original orchestration and melodic material which takes the ear by surprise. The second movement, in particular, is a classic feelgood piece where simple harmonies and complex rhythms combine to make a grand song of praise. The third movement, a hymn to the moon, uses disorienting pitch bends and glissandi to great effect, and the last movement is an explosion of orchestral colour.’
Sydney Morning Herald (Harriet Cunningham), 19 March 2003
'…it has a refreshing directness and immediacy … Arresting brass fanfares abound in the work, with organ, deep-toned strings and woodwind trills generating an atmospehre of solemn grandeur …'
The West Australian (Neville Cohn), March 1996
‘It was the music of Vine that proved the true discovery of the night… inspired and finely crafted… Vine has chosen four texts from dead languages… arresting, strangely beautiful sonorities… obscure, long-lost sounds… [Here is] a composer who truly understands voices and knows how to write music for large chorus. Vine writes in a tonal, melodic style yet wields a rich and subtle palette, ranging from the hushed stealing in of voices at the start of the first section to the resplendent final hymn to the sun. Most striking was the second section where the music for women’s voices alone was rapt and gorgeous.’
Chicago Classical Review (Lawrence A. Johnson), 15 June 2019
‘A contemplation of humanity’s timeless quest for peace and understanding, the work draws upon texts from ancient languages in its search for universal truths. The resplendent choral writing of the opening, the staccato utterances of “Eis Gen Metera Panton” (“To the Earth, Mother of All”), the other worldly yearnings of “Eis Selenen” (“To the Moon”) and the orchestral/choral exultations of “Eis Helion” (“To the Sun”) made for an epic statement on the meanings of life.’
Chicago Tribune (Howard Reich), 16 June 2019