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Prayer for the Living pictures

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“Thoughts and prayers”, “our hearts go out”. Daily our representatives save us the trouble of expressing feeling for the victims of war, homelessness, oppression, domestic abuse or natural catastrophe. The numbing repetition evaporates meaning, leaving a gap easily filled by talk of “tough decisions” and “harsh realities”. More than any medium, music can restore that meaning.

Singers and audiences alike were profoundly affected by the combination of community choir, fine orchestral playing and contemporary imagery in 2020’s Mozart Requiem and 2021’s A Child of Our Time. In 2022 the ASO, conducted by Benjamin Northey and 100 professional and amateur voices from across Adelaide, will perform some of the most inspiring - and rarely heard - choral music of the past century.

Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks writes deep, transcendent but humble music that is able to be grasped on one hearing. His Lūgšana mātei (Prayer for a Mother) (1978) features luminous lines for soprano and ends with the spine tingling sound of scores of voices each quietly cooing to a newborn. Dona nobis pacem (1996) is a plea for peace that fashions a melody of childlike simplicity into an overwhelming cathedral of sound.

French prodigy Lili Boulanger was the first woman composer to win the prestigious Prix de Rome for composition, aged just 19, in 1913. During World War I, a few years before her life was tragically cut short at 24, she wrote four masterworks that are almost never performed, as they involve vast orchestral and choral forces. Three are Psalm settings addressing exile and oppression, but Old Buddhist Prayer extends its gently radiant heart to all living things.

Let everything that breathes, let all creatures everywhere, without enemies, without obstacles, overcoming their grief and attaining happiness, be able to move freely, each in the path destined for them.

Old Buddhist Prayer

Poulenc’s uplifting Gloria of 1960 is devoid of posturing religiosity. Featuring some of the most sublime writing for soprano ever, it’s a refreshingly human take on the Latin mass, mixing blazing optimism with playfulness and heartfelt supplication.

Join the ASO, Elder Conservatorium Chorale and Graduate Singers to share the end of the Festival with this spiritual tonic.


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