Discubuit Jesus for Vocal Ensemble, Renaissance Instruments and Baroque Orchestra
(8 minutes) 2016
Discubuit Jesus was commissioned by the IU Jacobs School of Music Historical Performance Institute. I was asked to compose a piece that would bring together all the instruments and performers and style periods of the HPI to celebrate the donation by IU Early Music Institute’s founder Thomas Binkley’s wife to the Lilly Library of a medieval manuscript of the 13th century chant responsory for the feast of Corpus Christi “Discubuit Jesu.” The work uses two complete a cappella singings of the chant as bookends to an early music fantasy presenting the melodic fragments of the chant set in ways that emulate 5 centuries of Western music, juxtaposing and superimposing singers, Baroque orchestra, shawms, recorders, Renaissance bagpipes, sacbuts, lute and theorbo, viols and portative organ. One interesting element: The Baroque orchestra tunes to A=415, while the more ancient instruments used are tuned to the modern A=440! The listener is invited to revel in the glorious sounds of these instruments which are rarely heard by most concert goers, and also to be drawn to the melodic expressiveness of the chant tune which gets presented in many different textures and colors throughout the piece. As I’ve tried to do in many of my works, I want to heighten the listeners’ appreciation of the marvelous variety of sounds and ideas we can hear in our world, and celebrate that diversity by juxtaposing them in ways that will sharpen the listeners’ awareness of their distinctive attributes in a mosaic formal structure designed to be invigorating and compelling.
Discubuit Jesus was premiered by the forces of the IU Jacobs School of Music Historical Performance Institute at the Indiana University Art Museum, February 7, 2016. My thanks to Wendy Gillespie, Stanley Ritchie, Dana Marsh, Nigel North and the students of the HPI for their inspiration and spectacular realization of this work.