Ave Verum

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The Story

The exaltation of composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart often places them in the realm of gods or saints, and at times we forget their humanness. When artistic director Scott Tucker and I discussed the theme for this commissioned work, his desire was to pair the work with Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. Attempting to create a work to be presented alongside one of Mozart's is an intimidating endeavor. However, I began to consider Mozart’s humanness and wonder what he might have been thinking and feeling as he wrote Ave Verum Corpus (as well as his Requiem) — how did his own experiences and complexities participate in his inner monologue for this iconic music? After considering various traditional Latin texts, I asked my good friend and frequent collaborator, Todd Boss, to create a text that explores this question.

Mozart’s serene music seems a disjunct pairing with the crucifixion image of the Ave Verum text, and Todd’s poem so beautifully captures a possible reason for Mozart’s intent. To deepen the connection to Mozart, my work is built on musical fragments from two works written in the final year of his life: Ave Verum Corpus and Requiem. I hope that this new work might contextualize Mozart’s humanness and illuminate the personal meaning behind one of his most beloved works.

SATB choir & string orchestra

8:00 (Paired with Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus)

Choral Arts Society of Washington D.C. and conductor Scott Tucker.

April 23, 2017 at the Kennedy Center.


Mozart Closes His Eyes and Begins Hearing Ave Verum Corpus
by Todd Boss

Fill a bath now,
lay the body in.
Gently now, softly now.
Mind him. Tend
him. Red
runs the water
around him, and yet
o warmth, o softness,
with my music let
me kiss him, bless
him, ease him away
at last, at last …
ave, ave …

Interview with composer Jake Runestad and conductor Scott Tucker on the creative process for "Ave Verum."
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