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Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz | James MacMillan: Seven Last Words from the Cross

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Classical: Choral Music Classical: Twentieth Century Moods: Type: Vocal
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James MacMillan: Seven Last Words from the Cross

by Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz

Widely admired as one of James MacMillan’s finest achievements, his Seven Last Words is an absorbing and moving work for performers and audience alike. This cantata follows Christ's final utterances at the Crucifixion.
Genre: Classical: Choral Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Father, Forgive Them for They Know Not What They Do
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
6:11 $1.29
2. Woman, Behold Thy Son!... Behold, Thy Mother!
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
6:02 album only
3. Verily, I Say Unto Thee, Today Thou Shalt Be With Me in Paradise
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
8:48 $1.29
4. Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
7:18 album only
5. I Thirst
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
5:23 album only
6. It Is Finished
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
6:04 album only
7. Father, Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit
Spiritus Chamber Choir & Timothy Shantz
7:35 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The traditional text of the Seven Last Words from the Cross is based on a compilation from all four gospels to form a sequential presentation of the last seven sentences uttered by Christ (in English and Latin). The work was commissioned by BBC Television and broadcast in seven nightly episodes during Holy Week of 1994

This is rightly regarded as MacMillan’s masterpiece. It is not easy – none of MacMillan’s music really is - but what riches there are for those who scale these heights. MacMillan’s conviction in this music, stemming from his deep faith, is passionately obvious and could not leave anyone unmoved by this experience. One of the great features of this work is the way MacMillan uses silence – and the effect it creates is as powerful as symphony orchestras of sound. How few composers know about silence, and how afraid of it we are in contemporary society. The string writing is wonderful and draws resonances from the whole distinguished line of 20th century composers who have written so brilliantly for the medium, here in particular bringing to mind Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra.

There are so many extraordinary and powerful effects in this work that it is invidious to single any out, but the final sighs from the violins at the end of the orchestral postlude with which the work ends actually bring to life the last breaths of the dying Christ. It is mesmerizing and deeply, deeply moving. The plain-speaking (but increasingly dissonant) chordal outbursts at the start of the second movement are juxtaposed with huge balancing passages of silence. The mantra-like utterances of the beautiful but pathetic cadential figure (taken from MacMillan’s Clarinet Quintet Tuireadh – Lament) treads its way through the whole of the first movement.

Spiritus Chamber Choir is a Calgary-based award-winning choir founded in 1995. Under the direction of Timothy Shantz since 2008, Spiritus has been recognized nationally and internationally for its high quality performances and musicianship. Comprised of 39 volunteer members, they are committed to providing excellence in concerts to choral music lovers in Calgary and surroundings.

Spiritus was awarded the prestigious and highly coveted Healey Willan Prize, as well as first place in the mixed-voice adult choir category, and contemporary music performance category at the 2013 National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs. In May 2011, at the prestigious Florilège Vocal de Tours international choral competition (Tours, France), Spiritus won the Ministry of Culture prize (awarded by the Government of France) for the best performance of a work by a French composer.



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