Choral level of difficulty: Level 4 (5 greatest)
A dramatic, challenging, and ultimately beautiful unaccompanied choral work aimed at top level choirs (it was commissioned by the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Winchester Cathedral). A refrain begins the work and returns at key moments, reminiscent of the outbursts which characterise the second movement of MacMillan’s extraordinary Seven Last Words from the Cross. For those who are familiar with MacMillan’s choral writing there will be no surprises here. Solo voices taking highly decorated phrases, big contrasts, beautifully lyrical passages, richly scored divisi writing, and phrases to be sung freely and independently of other singers within a certain time frame, all characterise this work. The ending brings into focus another MacMillan fingerprint which he seems to be developing more recently, the unexpectedly beautiful cadential resolution which is a curiously British trait. This is an exciting and enormously worthwhile work for the high achievers amongst choirs.
Repertoire note by Paul Spicer