Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The BBC Proms

Eric Whitacre
People are always very shocked to hear that in my whole life, I have only ever been to see one performance at the proms. (It was Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'). This year, when looking through the catalogue (which I have to say costs more to buy than the actual 'prom' tickets), I noticed that the general programme for the Proms is similar each year, especially with the obligatory ending consisting of the national anthem, and Pomp and Circumstance. This year, I will be going to my second performance at the Proms to see my favourite contemporary choral composer: Eric Whitacre.

The first time I went to see Eric Whitacre live, it was incredible. Not only because I love his music, but because the choir that he brought together called 'The Whitacre Singers' had the most amazing blend that created a seriously magical atmosphere. This was also the first time I had heard one of the works on his latest album 'Water Night' called 'Alleluia' written for a choir in Cambridge that Whitacre worked with personally. When talking about the piece, Whitacre said that despite the fact he isn't a particularly religious man, he found the word 'Alleluia' (praise God) to be a deeply spiritual word that would enhance the music written for it.

The Whitacre Singers
This piece is going to be performed at his performance at the Proms, and I am thoroughly looking forward to it. The suspense at the beginning of the piece is created by the suspended note sung by upper voices, accompanied by the mimicking of the lower voices, and the emphasis of the text from the solo soprano. The work then builds gradually, until the entire choir sings together. There is even a more haunting section sun by solo baritone. This work is typical of Whitacre in terms of the harmony, cadences and part settings - but I love it all the same, and creates a spiritual relaxation for even those without religious convictions. For anyone who hasn't already got a ticket, I urge you to queue up to prom, as it will be well worth it.

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