Professor Adjunct of Choral Conducting and Principal Conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum, David Hill, describes contemporary British composer Joby Talbot’s 2005 choral work “The Path of Miracles” as “dramatic, exciting, reflective and deeply moving.”
On Friday night in New Haven’s Christ Church, Hill will lead Yale’s Schola Cantorum, a choral group that features both undergraduates and graduate students, in the Institute for Sacred Music, in a performance of Talbot’s piece. “The Path of Miracles” is inspired by the medieval pilgrimage route from Roncesvalles, a small town in the Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
“I love ‘Path of Miracles’ because it beautifully describes a journey in this abstract, nonlinear way,” said Addy Sterrett MUS ’18, a soprano and graduate student in the ISM’s Early Music Voice program. “What makes it so effective is that we are aesthetically taken along the pilgrimage, each voice layering another, creating textures that don’t explicitly tell a story, but rather make you feel as though you are trudging along, experiencing the joys, trials and ecstasy of such a long journey.”
Bass William Doreza MUS ’18, a graduate student in the Early Music Voice program, said that the piece uses imagery to evoke Spanish Catholicism and the landscape of northern Spain.
Doreza added that the piece “portrays the diversity of the many pilgrims you would find today on the road to Santiago.” He said that “spiritual, mental and physical heterogeneity” are all represented in the “postminimalist contemporary masterpiece.”
According to Doreza, the piece requires 17 distinct vocal parts, and uses nine different languages, including English, Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, Basque, Medieval Galician, Occitan and Latin.
Hill emphasized the contemporary and theatrical nature of the piece.
“At its heart is a spirituality which connects humankind with a musical language all can engage with,” Hill said. “Chants [and] folk song-like melodies are the sounds throughout and which you might have heard pilgrims creating in their own way as they made their journey.”
The performance will be semi-staged: According to Doreza, singers will move through the space Christ Church provides to “emphasize the translation and transformation of pilgrimage.”
Haitham Haidar MUS ’19, a tenor and student in ISM’s Early Music Voice program, described the music as “otherwordly.”
“What I love about it is the beautiful combination of cerebral, physical and emotional involvement it requires,” Haidar said. “Everytime I sing it, I get emotional and surprisingly homesick. There’s this sense of home this music brings that feels so personal to each of the performers.”
Alongside its many graduate students, Schola features several undergraduate singers, including soprano Isobel Anthony ’20. She noted that Schola offers her a unique opportunity to learn from more experienced singers.
“There are only three undergrads in Schola currently, so I am surrounded by people who think about music in ways I have yet to begin to ponder, and that is the best education I can ask for,” Anthony said.
David Hill joined the Yale School of Music’s choral conducting faculty in 2013.
Julia Carabatsos | firstname.lastname@example.org