We Beheld Once Again the Stars by Philippine Madrigal Singers

January 27, 2009 at 6:04 am | Posted in Reviews | 17 Comments
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It is one of the most beautiful songs that had sung by the prestigious Philippine Madrigal singers. The song is composed and arranged by Z. Randall Stroope.

This song is one of my personal favorites that is sung my MADZ. For me it’s powerful and it has the feeling of making me elevated in a way…and because of that song the choir (MADZ) has won the grand prize in the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing last 2007, making them the only choral group that won twice in the competition. (1997 and 2007)

About the music

Dante Alighieri (his full first name was Durante) was born in Florence, Italy, in 1265, into a low-aristocracy family. Besides his mastery of philosophy, theology and poetry, Dante also pursued a political career and held some important posts. His best known work as a writer is the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), a wonderful literal expression of medieval culture. Dante, himself, wrote that “commedia” (or “comedy”) is a work representing a story with a happy ending, as opposed to “tragedia.” Modern day usage of the word “comedy” infers humor, which would be incorrectly applied to Dante’s work. The Divine Comedy is a story about Dante, the Pilgrim, and his trials and tribulations as he journeyed from the Inferno (hell), on to Purgatory, and finally to Paradiso (heaven). His travel is full of danger and adventure, but he is absolutely dedicated to reaching “the supreme light” (Paradiso).

Dante’s journey began at night, and a full twenty-four hours have passed before he reaches the portal which opens to the light (and stars of heaven). He has seen and experienced everything in the realm of evil (Inferno), and he must quickly rise to the stars and safety, or remain forever in sin and death (“Vexilla regis prodeunt infemi!” -the banners [wings] of hell’s monarch [Lucifer] are closing in! Move quickly!) .Dante has successfully struggled to’ reach a portal or opening which will lead him to the “supreme light.” Realizing that he has found the Way, a calm comes over Dante, and he says:

     Ma la notte risurge
(But soon it will be night [and we must rise to the stars])
     Oramai e da partir
(Now is the time to depart this place)
     Che tutto veduto
(For we have seen and experienced it all)
("Keep moving" -return to paradise)
     Vexilla Regis prodeunt inferni!
(The wings of hell's monarch are heard nearby)
                                        (We must leave quickly)

     Ma la notte risurge
(But soon it will be night)
     Salimmo su, tanto ch'i' vidi
(I climbed toward paradise with no thought of looking back)
     De le cose belle che porta '1
(I passed through a small opening)
     Ciel, per un pertugio tondo.
(And finally saw heaven and the supreme light)
     Quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle
(And beheld once again the stars)

About the piece

The composer prefers that the two SATB choirs are not mixed together, but two separate units. Further, the two groups need to be relatively close together so that the interplay of musical ideas can pass easily from one group to the other.

The text is in Italian, except for the brief encounter with the monarch of the Inferno (“Vexilla regis prodeun tinferni!”), which is set in Latin. The “correct” syllabic accentuation of the Latin has, in some sections, been purposely aborted in favor of the “color” and effect of the language in a dramatic context. Lastly, the translation above is not word for word but paraphrased to provide the reader a more general sense of the drama at hand.

Source: http://www.alliancemusic.com/product.cfm?iProductID=652


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