Ecce-Homo-Concert2Ecce Homo marked Schola Cantorum Jubilate’s first concert of the year. This Lenten concert was intended to emphasise humanity particularly in present situations where it is threatened. This was especially brought forth with the repertoire sung, reflections read and the name itself… Ecce Homo meaning ‘Behold the Man’.

The concert started of with the male section of the choir reciting ‘Attende Domine’, a Gregorian chant with text written all the way back in the 10th century. The text depicts man invoking forgiveness for his sins. The piece was sung in the chapel of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu. Right after this piece, all choristers walked towards the main altar from where most of the pieces were interpreted. However, the choir made use of different spaces inside the sanctuary in order to provide a completely new depth to the music.

The programme included the following pieces, some of which can be considered as masterpieces for this liturgical period. ‘O Bone Jesu’ composed by the great Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, this relatively short piece is again a prayer for mercy as Jesus has ‘redeemed man with His most precious blood.’ ‘If ye love Me, keep my Commandments’ is a piece composed by Thomas Tallis which encapsulates the Roman Catholic religion in a few powerful verses. The piece sung in the concert is based on the traditional pitch sung by most choirs unlike the original which was somewhat lower in pitch. Giovani Pierluigi da Palestrina was back with ‘Super Flumina Babylonis’, a complex yet elegant polyphonic piece. Based on the Psalm 137 the piece blends together all the four voices marvellously. One shall note that in this piece no voice is superior over the other, but is a precise dynamic flow of text and dependent on proper interpretation by all the voices.

Accompanied by the organist Joseph Camilleri, ‘Pie Jesu’ was sung by one of our trebles Miriana Farrugia.  This piece is part of Karl Jenkins’ Requiem. The soloist sang from the church pulpit, creating another different acoustics for the audience.
It was followed by ‘Popule Meus’. The version sung is a combination of Palestrina’s and Victoria’s distinct works. The piece reached its climax at the end with typical renaissance ornaments from all the four voices addressing ‘Immortal God to have mercy upon man.’ ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ by William Byrd is a well-known piece which addresses the Virgin Mary. However, it also has a connection with the passion of Christ as is shown by ‘…on the cross for mankind, from whose pierced side, blood flowed.’

Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Qui Sedes Ad Dexteram’ is an abstract from his popular ‘Gloria’ specifically composed for alto. Althea Troisi de Menville interpreted this intricate yet expressive piece accompanied by the organist from the organ loft.

‘Wieqfa kienet imbikkija’ brought some Maltese text to this concert. This simple chant is a poem addressing Virgin Mary’s suffering, through a 20-stanza poem. It was interpreted by alternating stanzas between males and females positioned in the naves, in opposite sides of the church. The building quite literally became part of the sound.

‘Via Crucis’ by Marco Lo Muscio is a piece composed for organ which visits each stage of the Passion of Christ through the sheer power and variability of an organ’s sound. During this concert, Joseph Camilleri interpreted the 6th and 8th stations of the Via Crucis. The organ joined the choir in ‘O Ras Ta’ Kristu Mbierka’ a Maltese version of Johan Sebastian Bach’s work. This piece is present in various instances in Matthew’s Passion with incremental variations. ‘Crucem Tuam’ is a piece composed by Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci that portrays Christs final few breathes, hanging on the cross. Though being simple in nature, it is its interpretation that makes this piece truly immersive and reflective. ‘Crux Fidelis’ by Colin Mawby is one of the recent additions to the choir’s repertoire. ‘O Sacrum Convivium’, again composed by Bartolucci, portrays a subtle Soprano line backed by the other voices.

‘Ubi Caritas’ by Ola Gjielo is certainly a favourite amongst the audience and the choristers. Finally, ‘Hosanna Filio David’ concluded the event with a joyful feel. Originally composed by Tomas Luis da Victoria, the piece is intended for Palm Sunday.

This concert ventured into an array of religious works of different eras. The light settings and different singing spots helped the audience integrate with the choir creating a feeling of unity. Moreover, five reflections written by the choristers were read in between different pieces. The theme of these reflections was humanity and the topics included connectivity through technology, rights with particular emphasis for a clean and healthy environment, war with special reference to the situation in Syria, the cross and all the troubles immigrants face and finally Christ’s passion. At the end of the concert, attendees left donations for the conservation of the church. The amount reached the 241€.

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