Tackling Tarik's Triptych

One of the works on our Sunday 15 October program is the third movement of Tarik O'Regan's Triptych, entitled "From Heaven Distilled a Clemency". The song, for string orchestra and chorus, represents the most contemporary of the four works on our program.

Tarik O'Regan

Tarik O'Regan

About Tarik O'Regan

Tarik O’Regan, born in London in 1978, has written music for a wide variety of ensembles and
organizations; these include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Sydney Dance Company, Chamber Choir Ireland, BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Royal Opera House, London.

Currently he is working on a commission by the Houston Grand Opera for release in 2019: a full-scale opera about the life of Lorenzo Da Ponte, the famed librettist of three of Mozart's most treasured operas (Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte). Highlights of the 2017/18 season include the Amsterdam revival of Mata Hari, an evening-length ballet commissioned by the Dutch National Ballet, and performances by the Orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and the Alexander String Quartet.

O’Regan’s work, recognized with two GRAMMY® nominations and two British Composer Awards, has been recorded on over 30 albums and is published exclusively by Novello & Co. Ltd, part of the Music Sales Group.

Tackling the Triptych

Composer Tarik O'Regan shares some insights and stories with Distinguished Concerts International of New York (DCINY) about his popular choral works Triptych and The Ecstasies Above. Courtesy of DCINY, November 2015.

O'Regan's Triptych -- from which "From Heaven Distilled a Clemency" comes -- is one of the composer's most popular works. Started in 2004 and completed in 2005, the three-movement work sets poetry from numerous sources: William Penn, William Blake, the Psalms of David and Muhammad Rajab Al-Bayoumi, an Egyptian poet of the early twentieth-century.

O'Regan composed Triptych upon moving to the United States from Oxford. In his programme note for the work, O'Regan writes, "Relatively new to living in New York, I am much more aware of the independent, vibrant cultural plurality that exists today; it’s probably the single most dazzling facet of the City and is largely responsible for the infamous ‘edginess’ that pervades daily life there. With this in mind, I set to work on Threnody (movement I of Triptych) in 2004; I wanted to write something that was relevant to the Israeli/Palestinian issue without losing that City ‘edge’."

The latter two movements were originally commissioned and written as one movement. When O'Regan completed it in 2005 for a Remembrance Sunday concert, he realized the link it would have with Threnody. "Musical works connected with commemoration or memorials are often suitably pensive and slow," he writes in the programme note for Triptych. "I wanted to start with that concept, but to bring in some of the relentless urban rhythms that had been such a large influence on my life in the preceding two years. The result is that that the second movement (As We Remember Them) is quiet and gentle (a moment of recollection), while the final movement (From Heaven Distilled a Clemency) is much faster and vibrant, returning to a more openly elated rendering of the start of Triptych." It is this faster, vibrant final movement that Luminous Voices will perform.

An echo back to the Great War

The title "From Heaven Distilled a Clemency" is a couplet from the final stanza of the Thomas Hardy poem And There Was a Great Calm. Hardy wrote the poem to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that ended World War One in November 1918.

"A lot of cultures don’t memorialize death in a slow manner," O'Regan said in 2011. "I’m thinking of music for an Irish wake or dances performed at funerals in many cultures. I tried to piece together the 'beyond' without coming from any particular religious or secular angle. How do people get on with their lives beyond the initial sadness, and what happens to the lost loved ones?"

Come hear Luminous Voices sing "From Heaven Distilled a Clemency" with the Luminous String Orchestra. Arrange your tickets now: http://berlinermesse.bpt.me.

Calm fell. From Heaven distilled a clemency;
There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;
Some could, some could not, shake off misery:
The Sinister Spirit sneered: ‘It had to be!’
And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, ‘Why?’
— Thomas Hardy, from "And There Was a Great Calm" (1918)