The first complete performance of Karl Jenkins’ acclaimed Miserere with choir Polyphone, countertenor Iestyn Davies under the baton of Stephen Layton. Soloists also include percussionist Zands Duggan, cellist Abel Selacoe and harpist Catrin Finch.
Miserere: Songs of Mercy and Redemption is scored for countertenor (or mezzo soprano), mixed chorus, solo cello, strings, harp and percussion, which includes instruments indigenous to the Middle East: riq, darbuca, zarband, bendir. The mey, an ancient double reed oboe-like instrument from the region, is also heard, as is the qanun, a kind of large zither from the Arab world. The text is, in the main, sung in Latin and English but the word ‘mercy’ (in the sense of compassion) is also heard in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek (the languages of the Holy Land of Biblical times), as well as present-day Arabic.
The composer writes that “Miserere: Songs of Mercy and Redemption is dedicated to all who have suffered or perished during the tragic conflicts of the Middle East over the last 70 years. As we are only too well aware, the violence, horror and destruction have not been limited to that geo-political area. Miserere is the Latin imperative for ‘have mercy’ and is often used as a title for Psalm 51, which forms the text that begins: Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy upon me, O God).”
This concert will be recorded for broadcast on Classic FM.
Britten Sinfonia featured on the premiere recording of Karl Jenkins’ Miserere – find out more here.