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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Tham

On Pärt, mountain-climbing and 20 shades of blue

Updated: Feb 8

What does a choir do best? We gather.

For SYC60, we gather—with alumni-composers Di and Americ to explore sounding bodies in the body electric, with a youth choir for a new work by Cristian Grases (post to come), and with the Wayfarer Sinfonietta to perform the #1 item on our bucket list: Arvo Pärt's Te Deum.

Historically, Te Deum tends to be majestic, a public offering of praise and joyful thanksgiving. The gaze of Pärt’s Te Deum is turned inward, a quest for something not yet found, encircled within the ringing of a tonic triad. The singing of this ringing—tintinnabuli—in endless arpeggios, creates a majestic mountain-slash-temple in seventeen shades of D-minor.

One of Pärt's muses for the Te Deum was Swiss painter Martin Ruf, who said that it is possible to distinguish over twenty shades of blue in the mountains. Indeed.

As we reflect on 60 years of gathering to sing, putting together Part's Te Deum—set for triple choir (SA, TB, SATB), prepared piano, string orchestra and wind harp—is both public rejoicing, and litmus test.

We give thanks for yet another mountain to climb :

SYC & Friends : 60 years young

1 June 2024, Victoria Concert Hall

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