<< -- 2 -- Carson P Cooman 'YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!'
The high-point of the work came in the joyously bounding fifth movement, 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness'. A mixed meter dance builds gradually in intensity to a grand climax. The spontaneous applause at this moment in the work from the audience attested to its impact!
The last section of the work was also very compelling. A forceful and 'hissing' scherzando passage on the text 'Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' evaporates to give way to a dramatic narration about the ongoing struggle for justice in America. As the narration ends, the scherzo returns with driving vigor before giving way to the finale -- an ecstatic contemplation of 'You are the light of the world'. A blazing climax ends the work.
Some poor diction in the performance was mitigated by the fact that, as in Baroque choral music, Galbraith builds extended movements out of very short sections of text. In particular, the aphoristic verses of The Beatitudes were used in this way. The texts are repeated and re-imagined in a variety of ways which means that, by the end of the section, the meaning is quite clear.
Although Galbraith writes beautiful and effective slow music, few things can compare with her fast movements. The raw kinetic energy of the choral writing, driven by a percussion-heavy orchestra is nothing short of exhilarating. It is in this kind of writing that she makes her most distinctive and individual mark as a composer of contemporary choral music.
Copyright © 23 September 2004
Carson P Cooman, Rochester, NY, USA