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Music Text

Graeme William Ellis (E)

Abbreviations (PDF)



This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
World Premiere
Chapel of Clare College, Cambridge
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge / Dan Ludford-Thomas
Composer's Notes

"Was it a voice?" was commissioned by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge for their Ascensiontide Service, 2014 and is my third work in an ongoing series of sacred settings for a-cappella mixed choir. It follows the Christmas Carol "Now comes the dawn" (for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge – 2007) and a grace setting, "Concedas Domine" (for the Choir of Repton School – 2010).

The text was especially written for the occasion by the Melbourne-based poet, Graeme William Ellis.

Though Ascension Day is one of the great feasts in the Christian liturgical calendar and traditionally celebrated with a sense of splendor, majesty and radiance, Graeme and I wished to express something of humility and restraint in this observation of the last day of Christ's physical presence on Earth.

My setting, with its layered, dual C-D pedal point of interweaved male voices posing the title’s opening question, strives, even as the female voices join and the work builds in density, to honour the sense of hushed mystery and reflective gratitude that Ellis’s text expresses, placed as it is against the tragic background of the Easter passion story.
© Brett Dean 2014

Recommended Recording

Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble
Swedish Society SCD1185

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