Ave verum corpus is the second release by Daniel Shaw on Refinersfire. For chorus and organ, Shaw sets the Eucharist hymn in a way that is fresh to modern ears yet not forgetting the 700 years of tradition, reflection, and devotion associated with the ancient mystical text. Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine, vere passum, […]
Tag Archives | motet
Composer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University. He is one of the founding members of Refinersfire. Daniel Shaw is a conductor and composer and music teacher who specializes in small ensembles. He received degrees in music (B.A. Dartmouth College), choral conducting […]
The motet “Arbores serit”, as many of my recent works, grew out of extended conversations and correspondences with Cody Franchetti and very much bears his stamp. In talking about teaching, Franchetti reminded me of this passage from the first volume of Cicero’s Tusculanae Disputationes (“the Tusculan Disputations”). Arbores serit diligens agricola, quarum aspiciet baccam ipse nunquam (The diligent gardener plants trees, not one fruit of which he will ever see). Certainly, a better charge for a teacher, or an artist, cannot be imagined. The work must be done, even if the reward is both unimagined and impossible.
St. Luke Passion
Symphony No. 8
Composer Mike Linton lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and teaches freshman and sophomore level music theory at Middle Tennessee State University. He is one of the founding members of Refinersfire.
In addition to his post as Artistic Director of the New Haven Oratorio Choir, Shaw serves as Minister of Music at the St. Augustine Church in Seymour, CT. Previously held positions include Assistant Conductor of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Minister of Music at Middlefield Federated Church, Director of Choirs at the Zion Lutheran Church (Pittsburgh), and Director of Middle School Choirs at Trevor Day School (New York City). He has served on the faculties of Duquesne University and John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Long walks are not only good for the health they are useful — and economic — palliatives for loneliness. The summer of 1975 was my first summer in graduate school in Cincinnati and I found myself spending the long, late afternoons, after classes were done and before I had to return to the books, walking through the campus and its adjoining neighborhoods and business districts, a few leafy and lovely, but more seedy and tough.
On one such walk I found myself in the library of the art school. As I browsed the stacks I came across a particularly beautiful book on the medieval monasteries of France. I slowly turned its pages as I stood at the stack, not bothering to find a desk (I still today vividly remember the slant of the late afternoon sun coming through tall windows to the south), and eventually came across page devoted to the “Plan of St. Gall.” It was an entry on a 9th-century plan of a monastery accompanied with a modern model of what the plan would have looked like built as well as several details of the manuscript. One of those details was of the monastery graveyard, located in a wall enclosure at the manuscript’s top. At its center was a cross around which were drawn stylized trees and an inscription.
The reproduction was small and the Latin text faint, but I was struck by the plan and by the translation: “Among all the woods, the most sacred is the cross, fragrant with the perfume of eternal salvation.” The late afternoon, the beauty of the book, the depth of the sentiment, my own isolation, all combined to deeply move me. I quickly jotted down what I could make-out of the Latin text and the published translation and over the next several days composed the setting. I was much enamored with the music of Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti at the time and the motet’s slow, long dissonances showed their influence, although written for much smaller forces than was typical of their music at the time.
The motet was put away and lay forgotten for decades. By the time I found it again not only was my Latin much better (and my knowledge of medieval Latin abbreviations) but this most famous of medieval ground plans had a beautiful presence on the web where the manuscript could be studied closely and in detail (http://www.stgallplan.org/). There I discovered the full (and comprehensible) Latin original and while I considered re-writing the motet to accommodate the full Latin text I decided not to, letting the motet’s Latin text remain a ruin — mutilated but still a recognizable image of itself, just as the manuscript is a ruin as is too western Christianity. A ruin within a ruin, laying to rest quietly and gently what was once beautiful and new and gave certitude and peace and help from pain, buried in hope of the Resurrection. —- Mike Linton