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News - 99 Words: A Tribute to Sir John Tavener

Thursday, November 23, 2017
A collection of choral works by Sir John Tavener and Roxanna Panufnik entitled ’99 Words’ is released this week on Signum Records. Suzi Digby and the Voce Chamber Choir have recorded a tribute to the life and legacy of Sir John Tavener built around his '99 Words to my darling children', first uttered at the composer's memorial service. Of Tavener’s works, included on the CD are: Svyati, Look in thy glass, Threnos and Maha Maya.

Roxanna Panufnik's setting of Tavener’s words for choir and narrator receives its premiere recording on the disc. Writing about the new work, she says:

‘During a beautiful Service of Thanksgiving for his life and work at Westminster Abbey in June 2014, I was incredibly moved by his oldest daughter, Theodora, reading these ‘99 Words for my darling children, Theodora, Sofia and Orlando’. As well as being a deeply inspiring mantra for how he wanted his children to live their lives, there seemed to be so many parallels with my own personal history. Like Theodora, I had lost a composer father whose musical legacy is sometimes comforting but can also feel incredibly raw. Like Sir John and his wife Maryanna, I too have three children—two older girls and a younger boy. And these words sum up everything that I would wish upon my own children…

The music I’ve written for this rocks gently, like a lullaby. The words are so important that I’ve made sure you hear everyone one of them by having them first narrated and then sung. The cello represents John—supporting, encouraging and embellishing the words. Proceeds from this recording will go towards the Tavener Foundation, which promotes access to John’s and other classical music, as well as harmony through music, between faiths.’

Also included on the recording is Improvisation on Tavener Themes by cellist Matthew Barley.

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