Jonathan Dove

In addition to two works by Benjamin Britten, our collaborative concert with the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus will feature two works by British composer Jonathan Dove.

About Jonathan Dove

Not since Benjamin Britten has a British composer succeeded in writing operas which communicate with such clarity and coherence to their audience as those by Jonathan Dove.
— The Gramophone

Jonathan Dove’s music has filled opera houses with delighted audiences of all ages on five continents. In addition, his innate understanding of the individual voice is exemplified in his large and varied choral and song output.

Dove’s early musical experience came from playing the piano, organ and viola. Later he studied composition with Robin Holloway at Cambridge and, after graduation, worked as a freelance accompanist, repetiteur, animateur and arranger. His early professional experience gave him a deep understanding of singers and the complex mechanics of the opera house. Opera and the voice have been the central priorities in Dove’s output throughout his subsequent career. He was Artistic Director of the Spitalfields Festival from 2001 to 2006.

Luminous Voices is no stranger to the works of Jonathan Dove. Audiences to our New Year's Eve concerts may remember our performance of The Passing of the Year to ring in 2016. We also programmed Seek Him That Maketh the Seven Stars to ring in 2017, and we are excited to perform it again, this time joined by the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus. We will also sing Bless the Lord, O My Soul with the Chorus. Both works feature organ accompaniment by Neil Cockburn.

Composer notes:
Seek Him That Maketh the Seven Stars

The theme of light, and star-light in particular, is an endless source of inspiration for composers. I came across these words about light and stars while looking for a text to set as an anthem for the Royal Academy of Arts’ annual Service for Artists: I thought these images would have a special meaning for visual artists. The anthem begins with a musical image of the night sky, a repeated organ motif of twinkling stars that sets the choir wondering who made them. The refrain ‘Seek him’ starts in devotional longing but is eventually released into a joyful dance, finally coming to rest in serenity.

Composer notes:
Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Bless the Lord, O My Soul was commissioned by a group of people whose early lives were dedicated to choral singing. I wanted their Millennium Anthem to be a celebration of song, and Psalm 104 provided a wonderful sequence of expansive imagery. The organ part is quite virtuosic, beginning with a flourishing fanfare suggesting a heavenly vision, which provokes the choir into a wordless cry of wonder; in contrast, their first words are hushed, awe-struck. The organ creates a backdrop of twinkling stars for ‘who coverest thyself with light’ and a calm sea for ‘who layest the beams of his chambers in the waters’. The hushed ‘bless the lord’ returns, but now fast and loud, ushering in the most dramatic imagery: the chariot of clouds, the wings of the wind, and finally the depiction of God’s ministers as a ‘flaming fire’.