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MacMillan's Heyoka Te Deum

(June 2001)

MacMillan's Heyoka Te Deum

For Youth Chorus: Chants of Praise From the Old World and the New



When it comes to addressing timeless spiritual concerns in fresh and imaginative ways, Scottish composer James MacMillan has few peers. His new Heyoka Te Deum draws parallels between Old and New World religious traditions; in the process, it provides a richly satisfying singing experience for young voices. Scored for chorus, piano, flute, and tubular bells, Heyoka Te Deum made its debut on May 3 at the Great Hall of the Cooper Union in New York, performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC) under its music director Dianne Berkun.

For the unusual concept behind Heyoka Te Deum, credit belongs to the renowned youth chorus conductor and clinician Doreen Rao. The text that Rao compiled for MacMillan to set combines the English translation of a Lakota praise chant, as taken from the book Black Elk Speaks, with lines from the Latin Te Deum. MacMillan has used this hybrid text to create a cross-cultural work with a surprising unity of spiritual outlook and mood, assigning the Lakota translations to the advanced singers and the Latin lines to the beginning ones. The resulting piece is as sophisticated and challenging as any work yet written for young voices.”


> Further information on series: Choral Music Experience
> Further information on Work: Heyoka Te Deum

Photo of James MacMillan by Barry Marsden

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