Miami-based professional choral ensemble, Seraphic Fire, has commissioned three new works for their Grammy-nominated Christmas concerts this winter. They will be performing the works during eight concerts in the Miami area beginning December 9.

New Works:

Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep – text by Christina Rossetti
Fear Not, Dear Friend – text by Robert Louis Stevenson
Nada Te Turbe – text by Santa Teresa de Ávila
 
 
Click here for concert information.
 
 
About the works:

When discussing his vision for the commission, artistic director Patrick Quigley wanted three new works not based on existing carols. Seraphic Fire’s Christmas concerts are candlelit, introspective, and calming events allowing one to take a break from the hectic life surrounding the holiday season. Therefore, I wanted to choose three works that provide a sense of that calm as well as reassurance in times of trouble.

Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep is a setting of a poem (“Holy Innocents”) by Christina Rossetti. In the context of this concert, I found this poem to harken the Christmas story and imagined Mary singing this lullaby to the infant Jesus. I use a rocking 6/8 meter and mostly consonant harmonies to create a peaceful and comforting sound world while low tessituras provide a calming resonance when a child is held close to one’s chest.

Fear Not, Dear Friend is song of reassurance and hope for one who may be struggling in life. Robert Louis Stevenson’s powerful words evoke a sense of pity and selflessness from the choir in hopes of consoling a troubled soul. The music takes us on a journey through the highs and lows of the consoling process and ends with a meditation on the words “Fear not, dear friend.”

Teresa de Ávila, a Carmelite nun and Christian mystic, lived in 16th century Spain and is well known for her writings on mental prayer. This contemplative, spiritual experience occurs in four stages and thus my setting of Nada Te Turbe holds four as an important and influential number. I wondered what Teresa’s beautiful words would have sounded like set to music during her lifetime and in turn, what that music would sound like expressed in a contemporary musical language such as my own. As a response, I have used canonic and imitative counterpoint to harken the style of 16th century composers such as Tómas Luis de Victoria and reverberant textures to mimic the environment of a large, stone cathedral.

If you’re in the Miami area, I hope you will be able to attend one of Seraphic Fire’s wonderful concerts this year. They are one of the nation’s best choral ensembles and it is an honor to write this music for them.
 
 
Click here for concert information.