“HOPE – A new Ceremony of Carols” was composed during the corona pandemic in 2020-21.
Certain movements are set to texts from the same collection that Benjamin Britten used for his “Ceremony of Carols”: “The English galaxy of shorter poems”.
The movements can be performed as a whole or individually. The movement “Hope is the thing with feathers” is not directly related to Christmas, but it is nonetheless linked to the general theme of hope.
The work can be performed by any ensemble of upper voices (ladies, girls, or boys) and harp.
The first movement, a procession, uses the ancient melody “Resonet in Laudibus”. The harp part contains a brief reference to the Gregorian antiphon “Hodie Christus natus est” as used by Britten in the corresponding movements in his work. In the first movement of HOPE, the choir may enter in procession. The harp part is so devised that relatively little synchronization is required when the choir is at a distance, with more coordination becoming necessary as the choir approaches. For the closing recession the reverse is the case, with a decreasing amount of synchronization needed as the choir moves further away from the harp.
The texts are sometimes quite dramatic, especially in the poems by Robert Southwell. This should ideally be reflected in the interpretation and expressivity of the relevant movements.
The solo movement “There is no rose” is scored for solo mezzo-soprano and harp and may be sung by a member of the choir, or by an external soloist.
“HOPE – A new Ceremony of Carols” was premiered on 7 December 2021 at Vålerenga church, Oslo, by Vokal Vivo conducted by Marianne Husby Berg, Uno Alexander Vesje (harp), and Ingrid Stige (mezzo-soprano solo). It is dedicated to the participating musicians.
Excerpts, images and info about the work’s journey through the world will be posted on the website www.hopeceremony.com. Choirs and performers are warmly invited to send in documentation of their performances. Contact information can be found on the website.
The work was composed during the corona pandemic when Norway was in lockdown for extended periods. When I decided to compose a Christmas work, I realized just how much the Christmas message is one of hope. Hope of things to come.
Only a few months later and Europe is deeply affected by war and uncertainty. I have no illusions about being able to create world peace with this music, but perhaps it might bring a glimmer of light into the world.