Agnus Dei by Charlotte Bray for Unaccompanied SSATTB Choir.
This work was first performed on 9 February 2016 at The Tower of London, London, by Ora, conducted by Suzi Digby.
Commissioned by Suzi Digby.
The beauty and tranquility of the Agnus Dei in Byrd’s five part mass is most striking. The sensual language feels almost as if one is listening in on a private conversation. Its strength lies in its simplicity and in the incredible clarity it maintains through the gradual unfolding to the magnificent climax of the piece.
A fragment of Byrd’s theme was taken as the starting point for Bray’s Agnus Dei. Harmonically, the piece is built on tone clusters, which were constructed from a germ of the harmonic language of the Byrd. His structure also influenced Bray; he first uses three voices; then four; and finally all five. Bray opts for three clear sections- sopranos and altos, tenors and bass’ (with the addition of soprano 1), before the whole ensemble is finally heard together for the third climactic section.
Duration: 5 minutes