Breathe redefines many musical periods through its blending of ancient and modern texts, and through the performance of new music with historical instruments and techniques. Each part of the piece focuses on one of the four classical elements—air, fire, water, and earth—all of which are strongly present in the poems Rolfe has chosen for his text. Water runs through the lyrical, flowing opening (“Love overflows into all things. . .”); air follows, quick and restless (breathing, sighing, rising, falling); then come fire and earth, in warm, close intervals (“O most noble greenness, rooted in the sun, you shine bright and serene. . .”). These threads weave the piece together and serve as metaphors for human closeness, desire, love, and spirit—invisible threads that sustain us, that connect us to each other and to the divine.
Words by Hildegard von Bingen (Germany, 1098-1179), Anna Chatterton (Canada, b. 1975), Antonio Scandello (Italy-Germany, 1517-1580)
For 2 soprano, mezzo-soprano, mediaeval ensemble (recorder, violin, lute, organ, percussion)
This work was premiered on March 23, 2011 at the 'Trio Mediaeval & The Toronto Consort' concert on March 23, 2011 at St. Anne's Church in Toronto (Canada).
To learn more about James Rolfe and his work, please visit our SoundMakers website: http://www.SoundMakers.ca/composers/james-rolfe