ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Burden of Truth comprises the world première recording of a brand-new 32-voice arrangement of Gavin Bryars’s iconic minimalist epic, Jesus’ blood never failed me yet, and Antony Pitts’s 25-voice reworking of the extraordinary and visionary 13-part canon in the Eton Choirbook, Jesus autem transiens. The Song Company has expanded the project to include 34 professional singers featuring all of our Principal, Associate, Ensemble, as well as Emeriti and Guest Artists, each taking part by recording individual parts remotely. The resulting album and tour are destined to be one of the most exciting projects ever undertaken by The Song Company. In May/June 2021 The Song Company collaborates with the Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne, The Oriana Chorale, and singers from the Conservatorium High School, Sydney Philharmonia VOX, and The SongCo Chorale to perform the live world premières of these two polychoral works.
Gavin Bryars (1943–): Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet
"In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song – sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads – and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet. This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song – 13 bars in length – formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.
I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the homeless man's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism." (G.B.)
Antony Pitts (1969–) after Robert Wylkynson (fl.1500): Transiens
Transiens is a polychoral triptych – in three Parts or sections – for 25 voice-parts (SSSSSSAAAAAATTTTTTBBBBBB plus cantus firmus) and a total duration of 25 minutes. The original early 16th-century canon – Jesus autem transiens / Credo in Deum – is a setting for 13 (i.e. 1 + 12) voices of the Apostles' Creed in which each of the 12 Apostles' names are assigned to each phrase. "Jesus autem transiens" means "Jesus passing through them" and so the plainchant motif with these words is repeated as each of the twelve Apostles takes up the story of the Creed. In Transiens the music of the original canon is expanded for another 12 voices, making 25 in total (i.e. 1 + 24), and taking inspiration from the scene in the Book of Revelation of 24 elders singing a "new song" around the throne of the Lamb. The central Part of Transiens is an ethereal arrangement of the original, while the outer two Parts focus on the 12 phrases from the Creed (some longer, some shorter) and treat each as a canon by itself, interspersed by echos of the complete original and new superimpositions of the underlying 9-note theme of Jesus autem transiens. There is a direct quotation of the hymn sung by the old man in Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, for which Transiens was written as a companion piece. (AP)
Recorded at home during the Covid-19 lockdown period April–June 2020
Edited & mixed by Antony Pitts
Assistant Producer: Janine Harris
The Making of the Burden of Truth album:
Sopranos Amy Moore | Anna Fraser | Anna Sandström | Bonnie de la Hunty | Carmel de Jager | Chloe Lankshear | Josie Ryan | Roberta Diamond | Susannah Lawergren
Altos Alexandria Siegers | Hannah Fraser | Janine Harris | Jessica O’Donoghue | Max Riebl | Oscar Smith | Pip Dracakis | Steph Dillon
Tenors Christopher Watson | Dan Walker | Elias Wilson | Ethan Taylor | Koen van Stade | Owen Elsley | Richard Butler | Robert Macfarlane
Basses Andrew O’Connor | David Hidden | Edward Elias | Hayden Barrington | Lincoln Law | Lucien Fischer | Mark Donnelly | Nathan Lay | Thomas Flint
with the University Of Western Australia Conservatorium Of Music, and The Oriana Chorale
Director Antony Pitts
Limited Edition Transparent Red Vinyl Gatefold Album
Now available here.
Melbourne | Sydney | Canberra
21 May - 10 June
Melbourne 21 May, 7:30pm (St Michael’s Uniting Church)
Melbourne 22 May, 3pm (Trinity College Chapel)
Sydney 28 May, 7pm (The Cellblock Theatre)
Sydney 29 May, 3pm (The Cellblock Theatre)
Canberra 10 June, 7pm (Albert Hall)
- The Choir of Melbourne Trinity College
- Singers from The Sydney Conservatorium High School
- Members of Sydney Philharmonia Choir VOX
- Members of The SongCo Chorale
- The Oriana Chorale