By the same authors

Six Mediaeval Lyrics [composition issued in print]: for women's choir

Research output: Non-textual formComposition



Publication details

DatePublished - 2012
Place of PublicationLebanon NH (USA)
PublisherFrog Peak Music
Original languageEnglish


This composition is in six movements occupying 25 minutes; the texts are anonymous and in Mediaeval Latin; the world premiere was given by The Crossing, Philadelphia (USA), 2 January 2011. The Crossing subsequently issued the work on CD, included here for reference. The programme note reads:

Peter Dronke's landmark study of Medieval Latin and the Rise of the European Love-Lyric (Oxford University Press, 1966) contains an extraordinary range of texts, from entirely personal, direct testaments to intricate displays of artifice and erudition. A remarkable number were written by women; others, though by men, are essentially gender-neutral.

The texts chosen for Six Mediaeval Lyrics span the full range of poetic styles. "Mens mea" is an elaborate game of wordplay the intricacies of which are untranslatable; "Langueo" is an instance of the compact snarls of syntax that Latin grammar makes possible. At the other extreme are "Anima mea" and "Vale, dulcis amice", both more epistles than poems and both speaking directly from the heart. In between are more conventional but very affecting poems: "Tu vite subsidium" and the remarkable "Aprili tempore".

The musical styles likewise range rather widely, although all are gounded in a synthetic system of quasi-medieval modes. Techniques range from the purely intuitive (in "Anima mea") through somewhat systematic homophony ("Vale, dulcis amice") to tightly regulated rhythmic counterpoint ("Langueo"). The challenge, and the research objective, was to create a musical language that would clearly invoke mediaeval techniques, yet be appropriate to the present moment and also allow the wide variety of expression that characterizes the texts.

Bibliographical note

First performance: The Crossing (Donald Nally, director), The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA, 2 January 2011.

Recorded for CD release by The Crossing (Donald Nally, director) in Philadelphia, 30 June to 2 July 2011. CD publication scheduled for 2012.

    Research areas

  • composition, womens choir, Latin

Research outputs


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