Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night of the Soul
Central Washington University Chamber Choir; Gary Weidenaar, Director; Ola Gjeilo, Piano, Kairos String Quartet

Note from the composer and text:

“Dark Night of the Soul was written in 2010, and premiered that year by the Phoenix Chorale. The text, three stanzas from St. John of the Cross’ (1542-1592) magical poem Dark Night of the Soul, was suggested to me by the Executive Director of the Phoenix Chorale at the time, and I fell in love with its passionate spirituality right away”

One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

One of the things I wanted to do in this piece was to make the choir and piano fairly equal, as if in a dialogue; often the piano is accompanying the choir, but sometimes the choir is accompanying the piano (or violin) as well, with the choir kind of taking the role of a soft, but rich “string orchestra” texture. I just love the sound of voices humming chords, it creates a sound that can be so evocative and warm, especially when doubled by a string quartet. To me, that sound combination has a similar effect to a beautiful synth pad, only it feels more organic and alive.

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