Monday, April 12, 2010

Angel Voices

Pie Jesu is a motet based on the final verses of the Sequence Dies Irae. Many of the composers of Requiem Mass settings -- Duruflé, Fauré, Rutter, among others -- include a piece based upon this text in those settings.

Pie Jesu Domine,
    Sweet Jesus Lord,
dona eis requiem ... sempiternam.
    grant them rest ... everlasting.

Some of the early polyphonic settings of the Mass were actually developed for men's and boys voices. With the trend toward more worldly, more operatic settings by the Baroque era (the early- to mid-18th century), women's voices began to take the place of boys. The revival of interest in pre-Baroque "early music" settings by the 1980s, including original instrumentation and voicing, may have contributed to the renewal of interest in boys' choirs. In the above clip is a profile of Oliver Putland of the British boys' choral ensemble Libera.

It is something I wish had been more popular when I was a boy, as I continued to sing in a parish children's choir going into the eighth grade -- an avocation that came to an end, when it was learned that I could sing my part a full two octaves lower.

You can bet I never tried a stunt like that again.

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