Composition by Christopher Gibert (b. 1993), latin liturgical text
World premiered in 2023 in Sylvanès, France.
Performance time : circa 27 minutes.
Commissionned by festival de l’Abbaye de Sylvanès in 2023
Let's hear what the composer has to say about his work:
"If you want to see, listen first. Hearing is the step towards seeing".
This quotation attributed to Saint Bernard
resonates with our approach to composing this Magnificat
. Many composers and artists have based their works on this text, this major biblical episode. How can we renew the model after such incredible works by Bach, Vivaldi, Zelenka and so many others?
I decided then to "listen to the place", to resonate with the age-old imprints left by its builders, monks and cantors. Hence the idea of this cistercian Magnificat, which echoes the distinctive and powerful spirit of Notre Dame de Sylvanès Abbey: built in a massive, imposing Romanesque style, yet filled with light, reassuring simplicity and warmth, and surrounded by a dense forest which probably gave it its name (from the Latin silva: forest).
The text of the Virgin Mary's Magnificat takes the words of several Old Testament hymns, making it the Church's hymn of thanksgiving throughout the Christian generations. The Latin language was chosen for this work, as a reminder of the prayers that have been said for centuries under the abbey's Romanesque vaults.
The voice is central. A mixed choir (sopranos, altos, tenors and basses) is the main element. A few solos, mainly for soprano, punctuate the piece. Note that in my mind, this solo is drawn from the choir, in the manner of chanting monks or nuns who intone and speak, calling for a response from the group.
The monks often sing without instruments, in the bare essentials of the Cistercian rule. Nevertheless, this tradition has become more flexible over the centuries, and we wish to highlight the living, contemporary heritage of Sylvanès Abbey. That's why I've chosen to include the organ in this score, an instrument of accompaniment par excellence. However, I imagine the organ to be relatively humble and in an accompaniment role for a large part of the work, always with a view to placing the Voice, and therefore the text, in the foreground. In this way, this Cistercian Magnificat will, I hope, be inscribed in the stones of the abbey as a resonance, a clear imprint of what has made the treasure of this place: harmony and light. "
🎶 Lend an ear (score played by a machine) 🎧