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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Petra (1996)
Text Writer
Seferis
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
1996
Duration
15 Minutes
Language
Greek
Soloist
baritone
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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
    Soloist(s)
    Patricia Rozario, soprano Julia Gooding, soprano Andrew Manze, violin George Mosley, baritone
    Conductor
    Paul Goodwin
    Harmonia Mundi:
Performances
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