Salmo 150 (2010)

for SSATBB chorus a cappella
commissioned by Hong Kong Young People’s Chorus

Premiere: August 14th, 2010 by Hong Kong Young People’s Chorus, conducted by Virginia Cheng; Hong Kong

Psalm 150 is to me one of the happiest and most festive text in the Bible. It brings about the image that mankind is celebrating both the higher power, as well as the existence of one another. It is pure joy enraptured in excitement, delivered through the music making of a community. The mentioning of many instruments provides a wonderful subject for musical setting. Out of many languages and editions, I have chosen the Reina-Valera Antigua edition of the Spanish translation from the late 16th century, whose lines have a fantastic lilt and retain a small piece of cultural artifact–the “Adufe,” a religious drum used in Christian churches mainly in Portugal in the 14th century. My setting looks to master composers of that time as well–the crafty counterpoint of Tomás Luis de Victoria and the dancing rhythm of Francisco Guerrero continued to sing in my head as I wrote. They, like many composers before and after them, realized the infinite ability of human voice in imitating anything they can hear. My Salmo 150, likewise, spotlights the choir in a series of phantasmagoric transformation. They are at times instruments, and at times the instrumentalists, and other times singers radiant with joy.

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