Films, Audio & Samples
Helen Bowater: Psalm 15 — V...External video
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Helen Bowater: Psalm 15 — A...Embedded audio
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Sample: pages 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 of choral scoreSee details ➔
Sample: pages 2, 5 and 7 of conductor's scoreSee details ➔
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Psalms were the hymn book of the Hebrew old testament. 'Psalm 15' is included in the first of five books of the Book of Psalms comprising 150 psalms. This psalm asks these questions of God: Who may stay in your tabernacle? Who may live on your holy mountain? then sets out ten conditions relating to human morality to achieve this – essentially moral instructions to be kind to each other. The ten conditions are underlined by a harmonic ascent which, to conclude, leads to a reiteration of the questions posed at the start.
I am drawn to the profound emotional expression and modal nature of synagogue chant, its ritual cantillation, melodic ornamentation and accompanying drones. Psalms sung or chanted in the synagogue were originally accompanied by ritual and drama, and communicate the rich, passionate, metaphorical language of Hebrew poetry. This appreciation invited a musical setting in Hebrew and a lyrical and dramatic response for this a cappella piece.
Commissioned by the New Zealand Festival of the Arts
text from the Bible (Psalm 15:1–5)