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In 2018 the top choirs of Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys High Schools - Choralation and Voicemale - undertook a tour to Italy. In addition to a choral festival in Florence, and visits to several other Italian cities, the choir had the opportunity to sing an afternoon Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. For this service five pieces were requested, and I was asked to write new works for the choir. The texts had to encompass an introit, an offertory piece, two pieces for communion and a dismissal.
Text choice was subject to approval by the Vatican, but otherwise fairly open and could be in the vernacular of the choir. The final choice encompassed traditional Latin, Maori (translating well-known texts) and English. The introit is a Maori translation of the opening text of the Latin mass: the Kyrie. The second piece sets the opening verses from Psalm 95 in Latin: “Sing to the Lord a new song”.
The third and fourth texts are the communion texts, the first being the opening verses of Psalm 121: “I will lift mine eyes unto the hills” and the second the well-known “God be in my head”. This latter piece was written as a tribute to conductor Peter Godfrey (1922-2017) who had had such a significant role in the development of NZ choral music from his arrival in the country in the late 1950s.
The final text, the dismissal, is from Numbers chapter 6: “The Lord bless you and keep you” in a Maori translation.
The music was written to allow the varying voicings across the tour group an opportunity to sing. Two pieces are for the unusual combination of SATTBB reflecting the relative numbers of male and female voices in the touring party. One piece was written for just the sopranos and altos of Choralation, one specifically for Voicemale, and one specifically for Choralation.
Thanks to conductors Rowan Johnston and David Squire for the opportunity to write this set of music for a special occasion.
Written for Choralation and Voicemale (Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys High Schools) for their Italian tour in 2018
I. E te Ariki (Introit)
II. Cantate Domino (Offertory)
III. Levavi oculos meos (Communion anthem 1)
IV. God Be In My Head (Communion anthem No. 2)
V. Ma Ihowa Koe e Manaaki (Dismissal)