Contemporary Choral Music Essay

Words: 2213
Pages: 9

Contemporary Choral Compositions
Most people that live in the modern generation view choral music as old, boring harmonies whose composers died with kings. However, choral music is not just for the elderly singing hymns apathetically in the church pews on Sunday morning. Though the perception of it remains unenthusiastic among common listeners, the life of choral music is not as dead or boring as most would assume. Choral music is made modern, enjoyable, and vibrant through the works of contemporary composers. Although it is not as recognized in modern generations, brilliant vocal compositions and composers still exist today.
Two of the most recognized composers of contemporary choral music today are Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre.
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In the final movement, he leaves the final cadence in the cycle unresolved, as if this love will forever remain unrequited.
Morten Lauridsen makes use of cluster chords, polytonality, and minimalistic characteristics. He uses chant-like rhythms that have large tempo shifts, giving his compositions a feeling of continual motion. Lauridsen makes use of subtle dynamic shifts and rarely cadences in root position until the important moment of a work. However, by keeping clear of root position chords and providing a fairly static harmonic motion, he creates a clear sound cycle without a clear feeling of resolution. The emphasis on text and the stimulation drawn from it is also important for Lauridsen. He chooses texts in language that will complement the musical style he is after in his compositions. A good example of Lauridsen’s emphasis on text for musical settings is his piece O Magnum Mysterium (1994), another popular work of his and an example of audible chant-like influences. This composition is a sacred motet and depicts the birth of the newborn king amongst the lowly animals and shepherds. It is composed with mellifluous, silky harmonies in AABA form, a form Lauridsen often favors. [Play O Magnum Mysterium] This piece exquisitely demonstrates Lauridsen’s sheer tonal beauty.
Eric Whitacre was born in Reno, Nevada in 1970 and studied at the University of