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Heavenly Harmonies

  • Sacred Heart Church Cnr Pelham and Rathdowne Sts Carlton Australia (map)

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594) Missa Papae Marcelli
Sir William Harris (1883-1973) Bring us, O Lord God
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Three Shakespeare Songs
Sir James MacMillan (b.1959) The Gallant Weaver
Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016): Die erste Elegie
Arvo Pärt (b.1935): Da pacem Domine

In the late sixteenth century a legend grew up around Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. The Council of Trent had expressed concerns that polyphony obscured sacred texts, thus interfering with the listener’s devotion.

But the simple, declamatory style of much of the Missa Papae Marcelli convinced the church authorities that polyphony could be intelligible as well as beautiful. In fact, nineteenth-century musicologists dubbed Palestrina the ‘saviour of polyphony’. Hyperbole aside, there is no doubt that the Missa Papae Marcelli is one of Palestrina’s greatest achievements – a work marked by its lucidity, concision and sheer splendour of sound.

The mood of elevation in the Missa Papae Marcelli carries into the other works in this programme, which includes gems by Harris, Vaughan Williams and James MacMillan, and riveting soundscapes by Rautavaara and Pärt.

Earlier Event: 4 March
Brahms: German Requeim
Later Event: 23 September
Duruflé Requiem