Strathclyde University Chaplaincy Centre, Glasgow
Strathclyde University Chamber Choir / Alan Tavener
Choral level of difficulty: Level 1 (5 greatest)
In writing the Strathclyde Motets MacMillan set out to write a series of communion motets of only moderate difficulty, which would be of real and lasting use for average church or concert choirs. Aware that much of his choral music to date could be too challenging for average use, these new motets provide a very welcome opportunity for almost any choir of reasonable attainment and ambition to sing some contemporary music of real value.
MacMillan’s use of simple means in these Strathclyde Motets accentuates the atmospheres or moods he sets up. These in turn wonderfully highlight the words he is setting. In Sedebit Dominus Rex, a motet for a major Feast Day, the joy of the opening is achieved principally through the ‘decorated’ soprano line which, as so often in his music, harks back to the influence of ancient Celtic music. It is the marriage of ancient and modern in MacMillan’s music which is part of what makes it so irresistible. The quite end before the da capo is simply magical and a choir master’s energies are going to be focused much more on quality of sound than problems of note-learning.
Repertoire note by Paul Spicer