MacMillan St. Luke Passion (U.S. premiere at Duke)
Date: April 12, 2014
Location: North Carolina, USA
James MacMillan's brand-new St. Luke Passion will receive its U.S. premiere at Duke Chapel on Palm Sunday, April 13, at 4 pm, with Mr. MacMillan present. The Duke Chapel Choir performs with the Durham Children's Choir (Scott Hill, director), the Riverside HS Sirens (Jill Boliek, director), and the Orchestra Pro Cantores. the 70' work presents the words of Christ in English through the children's choir, often in 3-part harmony, while the rest of the story is told by the adult choir.
The composer has written this about the piece:
Luke's gospel is concerned with the idea of the Kingdom of God which points forward to the same author’s Acts of the Apostles. This started me thinking about a more spiritual, inward, and pared-back approach to create a focused work about an hour long. I decided to frame the Passion narrative with a Prelude exploring the Annunciation to set the scene, and a Postlude taking us beyond the Crucifixion to the Resurrection and Ascension. These incorporate Gospel texts where Luke explains the Kingdom of God. Any Passion that casts Christ as a soloist immediately makes him take human form as an adult male, whereas I wanted to examine his otherness, sanctity and mystery. Employing a children’s choir grants a measure of innocence to Christ as the sacrificial lamb, while the vocal line is either in unison or in three parts reflecting the oneness or Trinitarian implications of God. I tried to make the choral writing as varied as possible, sometimes homophonic, sometimes with upper or lower voices, at other times just a unison line. The crowd sections move into polyphony to show the chaotic, angry or fearful world of the street.
The concert is presented in conjunction with the Duke Divinity School and the Duke Initiatives for Theology and the Arts (DITA), who helped commission this work. Tickets are available at the Duke University Box Office: 919-684-4444, tickets.duke.edu.