Our summer concert will take place in St. Fergal’s Church, Ballywaltrim (on the corner of Boghall Road and Killarney Road), Bray, at 8:00 pm on Sunday 18th May. We are proud to present the Irish premières of:
SUNRISE MASS by Ola Gjeilo, and
MIRROR OF PERFECTION by Richard Blackford
We will be joined by soloists
SARA DI BELLA, soprano
BEN RUSSELL, baritone
DEGANI ENSEMBLE, leader Alan Smale
conducted by FRANK KELLY, our musical director
This is a change from our regular venue and it is a few years since we last presented a concert at St. Fergals; but it is still a lovely place for a concert like this. We gratefully acknowledge the kindness of Fr Larry Behan in making available St Fergal’s Church for our concert.
Tickets €15, available at the door, from choir members, and from Photocraft (Quinsboro Road) and Dargle Pharmacy (Superquinn SC).
Rehearsal recording of “The Ground” from Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo: click here
Virginia Kerr, Chairperson of Opera Theatre Company had this to say about our preview performance of “The Ground”:
I had the great pleasure of working with the Bray Choral Society last December when the choir participated in the Opera Theatre Company Sing and Be Merry Christmas Tour. Amongst other items, the choir sang an excerpt from Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo. This Norwegian composer was completely unfamiliar to me and I was very impressed by his beautiful music and his wonderful ability to portray visual effects through sound. The Sunrise Mass is a piece which I am sure will be enjoyed by audiences worldwide and I commend the Bray Choral Society for their innovative and interesting programme planning. It is a great opportunity for Irish audiences to hear new works which might not be performed in Ireland very often. Having enjoyed hearing the choir sing a short excerpt from the Mass, I feel sure that it will be a wonderful evening and one which should attract a full attendance.
Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Opera Theatre Company
About the music
Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City.
Ola’s concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its 2012 sequel, Piano Improvisations. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale’s bestselling Northern Lights album, which is devoted entirely to his music for choir. All three albums are available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
Presently a full-time composer based in New York City, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music often draws inspiration from movies and cinematic music. He is currently composer-in-residence with Manhattan Chorale, a professional chamber choir led by Craig Arnold.
Sunrise is a symphonic mass for choir and string orchestra. It was commissioned in 2007 by the combined Majorstua and Nova Chamber Choirs and was first performed in Oslo on 2nd November 2008.
At first hearing, the music of Ola Gjeilo comes across as pleasant to the ear: simple, straightforward, easily evoking beautiful emotions. On further listening one hears the complexity and multiple dimensions of his writing. Philosophically, Gjeilo seems to desire to create an atmosphere in which the listener can experience music that is direct and pleasing.
Gjeilo considers himself a ‘symphonic’ composer in that he often aims for a lush orchestral sound, however small the performing ensembles are. In choral music, this also means that the music is ultimately more important to him than the text. However, he approaches his craft from a spiritual perspective and wants to share universal and humanistic experiences in the realm of his music. One needs to look no further than the names of each individual movement for an illustration of how spirituality plays a role in the work. The text comes from the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie – The Spheres, Gloria – Sunrise, Credo – The City, Sanctus & Agnus Dei – Identity & The Ground. While Gjeilo set the meaning of the Latin text respectfully and observes the traditions that masses are expected to exhibit, his overall vision for the piece lies within the titles of the work, only loosely related to the meaning of the Latin. In so doing, he reveals a structure outside of the text; a metaphysical journey from the heavens to earth. The intent and the story in his Mass are expressed through the way in which the music comes across sonically.
After graduating from the Royal College of Music Richard Blackford was appointed Composer In Residence at Balliol College Oxford. His work is performed and broadcast all over the world and has been featured in the Adelaide, Cork, Montepulciano, Brighton, Cheltenham, Long Island and Berlin Festivals. Awards include First Prize at the Houston Film Festival, The Royal Television Society Award, the Mendelssohn Scholarship and the Tagore Gold Medal. In 2000 he wrote a four-hour choral and orchestral score for CNN/BBC Millennium, which won an Emmy Award for Best Title Sequence and for which Blackford was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Music. His collaborators include Ted Hughes, Maya Angelou, Tony Harrison and Alistair Beaton. In 2008 he became the first ever Composer in Association to the Brno Philharmonic.
Richard Blackford has devoted a large part of his career to dramatic music–opera, ballet, incidental music, and film scores–but he has also written a number of large scale choral works. Mirror of Perfection, for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra, uses texts by Saint Francis of Assisi. The composer has written that the simple lyricism of the music is intended to reflect the simplicity and directness of Francis’ life and faith. The seven movements are varied in their moods, with a delicate harmonic and melodic simplicity which echoes John Rutter. The fourth movement, which features the soprano soloist, is the most interesting, largely because it’s musically the most adventurous in its use of dissonance and an expanded harmonic and gestural vocabulary. The sixth movement, too, stands out because of its endearingly quirky rhythms. The movements are graceful and shapely, with some lovely sonorities, and the choral and orchestral writing is never less than elegant. The work is likely to be most attractive to fans of Rutter’s choral music.
The original live première recording of Sunrise Mass is available for purchase from iTunes store; please click here: Sunrise Mass at iTunes