The premier of a substantial piece of new work – Hymn To Gaia – by Eric Sweeney was the highpoint and achievement of New Music Week. This significant body of work premiered at Christ Church Cathedral with musicians, soloists, a narrator and three choirs underlined the calibre and contribution of Eric Sweeney as a composer of first rank.
Structured like a Mass – a Mass to the world with Kyrie, Gloria, Interlude, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Requiem it uses a range of cultural symbols and religious to establish a new take on the fragile biosphere we call Earth.
Gaia is a Goddess of Earth but the name symbolises a hypothesis of ecological theory of harmony and integration.
Jim Nolan as Narrator delivered lines from First Nations and Native Americans as well as a Walt Whitman coda.
The Christian format shapes the piece with a Kyrie/Christi where Mezzo soprano Bridget Knowles amid resonant drum beats sings from The Koran about creation and the alternation of the night and the day.
Eoin Power (baritone) delivered a Gloria from Hopkins, pure beauty to beautiful organ, violin, cello and viola accompaniment.
A curious Interlude to a John Latham poem Songs We Did Not Sing used the two soloists as a warning to seize the day, take the chance, it will not come again seemed to go against the cyclic nature of the work but the choral work at the Sanctus was magnificent.
The choirs of Christ Church Cathedral, Tribal Chamber Choir (Galway) and Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso (Dublin) created a deep resonant tone that was memorable. The Agnus Dei took away the sins of the world as the soloists rejoiced in the nature of Bodhisattva and Buddha with a Puja as an act of respect and reverence before the work gathered into a Requiem Aeternum inspired by Walt Whitman – nothing is ever really lost.
Eric Sweeney conducted and I was lost in admiration.