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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Eternity's Sunrise (1997)
commissioned by The Academy of Ancient Music
Text Writer
William Blake
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
10 Minutes

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Programme Note
John Tavener Eternity's Sunrise (1997)
'I shared in the image of God, but did not keep it safe; the Lord shares in my flesh, so as to save the image, and to make the flesh immortal' - St Gregory of Nazianzus.

My first ideas for Eternity's Sunrise came to me in January 1997, soon after my father's death. These ideas were taken up again in September the same year, in response to a commission from the Academy of Ancient Music, which happened soon after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. There is no such thing as accident or coincidence, so I dedicated my piece to the memory of the Princess.

The concept of solo soprano (representing earth) at ground level, handbells (representing the angels) at an intermediate position, and the main baroque ensemble at a high level (representing heaven) fitted exactly with the Blake text which I had decided to set. When seen as things truly are, the earth is a mirror of the Eternal World, and when seen correctly, it is possible in this world to live in Eternity's sunrise. God does not exist in the world. And yet at the same time He is reflected in it, giving it form and structure. The music should be played with quiet joy, as a day of sunshine and calm, full of gentleness and radiance.


Preview the score

  • 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:
Eternity’s Sunrise was set to words by Blake for soprano (again a radiant Patricia Rozario) and baroque instruments, plus handbells; again soaring “Alleluias” punctuated long, melismatic vocal lines, seemingly to set to leave this world altogether. Perhaps the secret of appreciate Tavener’s music is to believe that there is another world to open doors into? Then all fans into place. After music like this, applause seems superfluous; but what else is there?
Laurence Hughes, The Independent,01/07/1998
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