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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Petra (1996)
Text Writer
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
15 Minutes

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Programme Note
John Tavener Petra (1996)
This work was commissioned by Lucy Bailey and The Gogmagogs. It was first performed by The Gogmagogs at the Aldeburgh Festival on 21st June 1997.

Having in our own minds desanctified ourselves, we have also desanctified the natural world in our minds....This self-image and world view have their origin in our loss of memory, in our forgetfulness of who we are, and in our fall to a level of ignorance and stupidity that threatens the survival of our race.

Πέιρα - the Greek word means stone or rock - is an act of recollection that came to me in a half-waking state. It is an attempt to see the human race as sacred beings, even as semi-divine beings, not in our own right, but because we are created in the divine image, in the image of God. We should look upon every part of the cosmos as sacred, but we have forgotten, hence the nostalgia and sense of loss held within the sacred in Seferis' poetry.

Gradually, the transcendent becomes inseparable. It builds throughout, in the transcendent figure of the violin harmonics, the repeated Πέιρα, Πέιροσ, I build' sections and in a rising figure which eventually becomes 'Ανέσιή' (Risen), sung by all the members of the group. 'Risen, Rise, Rise....Yes the whole of nature, but 'we who on our feet are dying' have forgotten.

John Tavener

  • Ensemble
    Choir & Orchestra of The Academy of Ancient Music
    Patricia Rozario, soprano Julia Gooding, soprano Andrew Manze, violin George Mosley, baritone
    Paul Goodwin
    Harmonia Mundi:
  • 04 FEB 2014
    St. Nicolaus Church Tallinn, Estonia
  • 12 FEB 2004
    Academy of Ancient Music's London Season
    St John's, Smith Square, London
    Choir of New College, Oxford
    Patricia Rozario; Paul Goodwin, conductor

    Other Dates:
    13 February - Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts, UK
  • 01 JUL 1997
    City of London Festival
    Bridewell Theatre London
    Lucy Bailey, conductor

    Other Dates:
    2-4 July - Bridewell Theatre London

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