Phænix alumna mortis
SATB divisi, solos | Duration c. 4'10"
Hewitt Hill Music
Phænix alumna mortis was commissioned by Paul Mealor and the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir for their 2014 tour to Belgium and Holland. I was fortunate to have been given access to All Saints Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral while in residence there with the Chapel Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen, and used the time in that ancient space to compose this work. The piece sets a seventeenth century text by the English poet Richard Crashaw, and uses aleatoric notation to emulate the flapping of the Phoenix’ fiery wings in the final section.
English translation of text:
Phoenix, child of death,
what a strange woman in labor you are!
You rise not from nests but fires;
as if prepared not to lay eggs but to die:
Death is the midwife and you yourself give yourself birth
You yourself are the mother to you,
and you, the daughter to you.
Thus you, the fragrant harvest
of your funeral rites arise
restored to yourself by your fall,
you take your own place. O death
which is fecund! O blessed profits of a costly death!
Live, sweet wonder, live
and be sufficient unto yourself.